This weekend, I had my first chance to toy around with the SMART Notebook app for the iPad ($6.99). My colleagues and I have a a nice bank of Notebook files we use, particularly in geometry courses, and I am most interested in utilizing the portability of the iPad to allows students to interact with math lessons.
IMPORTING FILES: One of the issues I have with my iPad is how difficult it can be to work with files. But using DropBox along with the Notebook app worked quite well. I saved a few files I use from my desktop computer into DropBox. Choosing one of these files in DropBox on my iPad, they were recognized, and I was given the option of opening them in Notebook. Clean and seamless.
The instructions file included with the app also gives you guidance on how to save and open files directly from the SMART Exchange.
WHAT TOOLS DO WE HAVE? Once a file is opened, you have a “lite” version of the SMART Notebook software. Available tools are pen, eraser, text tool,and photo import. Some of the more popular and creativity-inducing features, like screen shade and the magic pen, are not available. No drawing tools either. Essentially, it seems easier to prepare a document on your desktop, then move them to the iPad.
Like any iPad app, Flash animations will not run, which is a bit of a downer here. If I am thinking about ways I would like students to interact using the iPad,the manipulatives like category sort, vortex, and pairs would be most useful. But we can still make good use of drags and movement.
WRITING NOTES: If you are like me, then writing on the iPad is a new experience. For small groups, my fat fingers may be fine to communicate ideas. But the idea of the infinite page we have come to know from Notebook does not seem to be a feature here.
In the end, this app is really SMART Notebook “lite”, with the ability to look at files you have already created, edit and share them. I see this as a nice formative assessment tool for classroom. Imagine a Notebook file with a number of practice problems or challenges, and passing the iPad around to have students contribute their ideas. Connecting to a projector, a class discussion of student work could then be held, as students appraise each other’s work. I’m excited to try this with a class and observe their response to this tool.
Here are some other reviews of the Notebook app: