Module 11: ActivInspire Without a Promethean Board
In this module, learners will find tips and tricks for taking advantage of Promethean technologies in classrooms that do not have a Promethean Board installed. Completion of this module is expect to take about 20 minutes.
Technology Decision-Making: When school districts determine which teaching locations will be outfitted with technology resources many factors are considered, not the least of which is available funding. If your classroom is one that does not have a board, it could be due to any number of factors. Perhaps you are slated to get a board in the future, but your classroom is not in the "first wave." Perhaps you teach in a location in which equipment security and safety is an issue, so there will never be Promethean Board in that location. Never fear, there are a great many features of ActivInspire that can be used without a Promethean Board!
ActivInspire software may be downloaded from the Promethean Planet Web site:
The free version of the software comes with basic tools. Full features may be accessed if/when the software is registered.
Schools that purchase Promethean Boards and ActivInspire software are licensed to install the software on multiple computers. For those attending the on-site training, your building Technology Coach can provide you with a registration code that will unlock the full features of ActivInspire.
With ActivInspire installed on your classroom computer or a laptop, and a projector at your disposal, you're ready to go!
2. At the Computer
Authoring and modifying Flipcharts is typically done at the computer so those tasks are identical whether you have a board or not.
The Learning Response System is used exactly the same way with or without a board. Student responses go to a hub that is attached to the computer - the screen is for viewing only so a projected image on a "regular" screen works just as well as a board for this. Using the LRS is a powerful tool as ongoing formative evaluation allows instruction to be modified on the spot to meet the learning needs of students. If there are Promethean Boards in your building there are likely several sets of ActiVotes and ActivExpressions as well. Share :)
The screen recorder can be used equally well with or without a board. As long as there is some means of input - keyboard, mouse, ActivSlate - audio and visual content can be captured.
3. At the Screen Work-Arounds The author of this training site used the ActivInspire software in the classroom for six months prior to having a board installed and found several work-arounds. Here are some possibilities:
Use the Mouse: Using the mouse on the computer parallel's what the ActivPen would do on the board. Instead of standing at the board, you or your students could to be at the computer next to the board - still interactive and still viewable by the whole class.
Magic Mallet: Have students use a Magic Mallet, or other non-metalic pointing device, to 'move' things on the screen. Yes, they will quickly figure out that it is you using the mouse to follow the path that the Magic Mallet travels, but a bit of silliness helps make it fun. The students' actions with the Magic Mallet (pointer) won't actually control the software - wherever they made the Magic Mallet go, you will use the mouse to follow the same pathway. Even with a board installed, keeping the Magic Mallet handy will make reaching to the top of the board quite easy (a very inexpensive alternative to an ActivWand).
Drag and Drop: Using Drag and Drop instead of writing with the pen tool allows students to easily manipulate content from the screen, using a pointer or Magic Mallet. If you have a fill-in-the-blank activity, include a word bank so students can "drag" their choice onto the line.
Text Tool: Are you working with text? Instead of writing on a Promethean Board using the pen tool, add a text box and type in the content.
4. Challenges and Opportunities There are obvious limitations if you don't have a board to work with but you would be surprised at how much you can actually do. You will likely find that some learning activities will still work much better with a chalkboard or document camera. Being open to finding ways to include Promethean interactivity in your lessons will open up learning opportunities for your students. Interactivity and student engagement may not be as high as it would be with a Promethean Board, but it will likely be greater than if you didn't use the software at all. Should you have the opportunity to teach with a Promethean Board in the future you will have provided yourself with a great head start and it will certainly ease the way once the board is installed.
5. Practice and Discussion
Using the ActivInspire software, projector and a pointer, work with a partner to practice following a Magic Mallet (pointer). Take turns with one partner navigating a Flipchart while the other uses the mouse to complete the actions.
Locate some completed Flipcharts (see links in Module 7). With your partner, discuss how they could be modified for use in a board-less teaching space.
Discuss: What subject areas or topics do you think would lend themselves to using the ActivInspire software sans board?
Discuss: What subject areas or topics do you think would lend themselves to a more low-tech approach?