Desktop Annotation on a SMART Board & How It Compares (Part 3 of 3)
News on June 25 2018
We’ve reached the final post in our series on desktop annotation! In this segment we’ll look at a ClearTouch 5075 H+ and the Promethean ActivPanel. We’ve previously tested the desktop annotation feature on the SMART Board 6000 Series, the Newline TruTouch UB Series, and a Sharp Aquos Panel.
As a refresher, desktop annotation is the ability to easily write with digital ink over your desktop or into applications, and is a key feature of any interactive flat panel. It allows you to work collaboratively on documents or draw attention to a specific item being displayed to your class.
When evaluating this feature on different panels, here are a few things you should consider:
- Are you able to write over your application, and still use that application? For example, if I highlight text on a PowerPoint slide, will the highlight stay with the slide allowing you to advance through the presentation?
- Are you only writing on a layer over the application? If so, can I save my writing?
- In an application like Excel, can you write directly into a cell, or are you only able to write over the spreadsheet?
- Do I need to indicate by selecting a tool from the application’s navigation that I am a pen after I have picked up a pen?
- Does the display recognize the different between my pen and my finger?
- Can multiple users write in different colors at the same time?
- When I write in a web browser, does the ink stay with the individual tabs on the browser?
- Do I need to download special software to enable annotation features?
Use the bullet points above and watch each video to decide for yourself which one best suits your classroom needs.
Ready for the final videos in the series? Watch below!
Desktop Annotation on the ClearTouch 5075 H+ Panel
The mission continues as we look for a panel that allows us to write over any application with the freedom to navigate to other tools, write over web pages, and make real-time changes to existing documents. So far, the only one that has checked all the boxes is the SMART 6000 series. However, ClearTouch is another panel that utilizes an overlay as their desktop annotation feature. Watch the video below to see how it stacks up to the competition.
To begin, we had to open “EasiNote,” ClearTouch’s desktop annotation software. At first, the application opens to the EasiNote homepage. To view our presentation, we had to click the desktop computer icon and then use the toolbar to choose to become a pen.
We were able to write over the first slide, but we couldn’t access any other PowerPoint or desktop applications. We also could not change slides or add a new annotation page. To write over the next slide, we had to click the mouse option, and choose a different slide. Then we had to choose to become a pen again. The most inconvenient feature was that our original annotations were lost as soon as we changed tools. There was no option to save them.
Now, there is a screen capture option that allowed us to save our annotations as images. The screen capture is immediately pulled into the EasiNote software homepage, and we could save it as a JPEG.
Next, we looked at how ClearTouch’s EasiNote software worked within Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word. The desktop overlay lets us write over Excel sheets and Word documents, but again, we could not make any changes to the original document, and our notes are only saved as screen capture images.
Just like the rest of the videos, we concluded with testing EasiNote in a web browser. We were able to access the web browser directly from the EasiNote homepage and search for our webpage using the pop-up keyboard. Once we arrived, we could write over the webpage, however we couldn’t scroll or access other applications. And just like before, our annotations disappeared as soon as we switched our tool. There are other tools offered within EasiNote such as spotlight, magnifier, and the writing board, but they do not work within the browser.
Starting to become a little repetitive, right?
Desktop Annotation on the Promethean ActivPanel
Sometimes the best isn’t saved for last.
Let’s review what happened in the video: before we began, we had to open Promethean’s ClassFlow Desktop application. This opened a separate menu with the option to annotate over the desktop. From this menu, we clicked the icon that looks like a screen with a pen. This opened a separate window identical to the presentation – however, it was just a screenshot of what appeared on our desktop. So, the desktop annotation feature can only be opened once we had exactly what we wanted to annotate appearing on the desktop. Something important to note: this step alone took nearly six minutes because the software would not cooperate.
Once we (finally) got our overlay to open, we had to choose to become a pen from the toolbar. This is because the software cannot detect whether we are using our finger, a pen, or an eraser. We were able to annotate over the first slide, but like some other panels, we could not add an additional overlay slide or access other applications. To do so we had exit the overlay, choose whether we wanted to save our annotations, switch slides, and then re-open the overlay. Note that if we decided to save our presentation, it would be saved as a ClassFlow document, NOT to the original PowerPoint. This is because the desktop overlay feature created a clone of the presentation in a separate window. All of these features remained the same when in presentation mode.
When we switched to Microsoft Excel and Word, we could only write over our document and convert writing to text. It was clear that Promethean’s desktop annotation feature was only suitable for writing over these applications, not for making changes to it. Personally, we think teachers would have a better experience using Microsoft Inking tools.
Finally, we tested the desktop annotation feature within a web browser. We discovered that we couldn’t search for a term within the overlay, so we had to navigate to our page before enabling the desktop annotation feature. We could write over the webpage as a pen or highlighter and convert our writing to text, but we couldn’t scroll down without having to exit the overlay. Promethean does offer the ability to highlight a section of the page with their Spotlight tool, or add a “revealer” screen, so there’s that.
This video concludes our series investigating how desktop annotation works on the five most popular interactive displays. Check out any videos you missed, and be sure to look at our summary of findings in the table below!
Rewind to earlier videos in the series:
Here’s our findings: