Moving Between IWB Platforms

This post is in response to a question raised on the Whiteboard Blog Facebook Page. Stephen Taylor wanted to know what his options were when moving away from a SMART school to a school that uses other boards. There are a few options open to teachers in that position. And also for those teachers heading the other way, away from Promethean boards.

SmartPrometheanMoving away from SMART

1. Import into ActivInspire
If you are currently using SMARTboards in your current school, you’ll probably have a lot of SMART notebook files. If your new school is using Promethean ActivInspire then you should be able to import these notebook files straight into the new software. Activ Inspire will do a little converting, but you should be able to retain most of the formatting, with only a little touching up needed.

This may not always work, depending on file versions and versions of ActivInspire/Smart Notebook used to save/open the files.

Look under File -> Import -> Smart Notebook File

inspire import

2. Export as PowerPoint
In SMART Notebook, you can export your files as PowerPoint format. This will allow them to be used on any IWB or even just a projector. You can find this feature under File -> Export -> PowerPoint

Smart Export

3. Save into the Common .IWB format
SMART Notebook 10.7 and higher will let you export as a CFF – Common File Format – file. This has the extension .iwb and should in theory let you transfer your files to other IWB software such as Easiteach which also supports this format. At present ActivInspire does not use these files. Use the same menu as above, and select CFF instead.

4. Use Smart Notebook Express
Smart Notebook Express (http://express.smarttech.com/) lets you open Notebook files via your web browser. This won’t let you legally run Notebook content on another board, but it will give you access to your resources once you’ve moved schools.

 

Moving away from Promethean

Your options are a little more limited moving this way. ActivInspire no longer allows export in PowerPoint format like the very early versions (and ActivStudio) did. Which is a shame. Likewise it does not (yet) support the common .iwb file format. If your files are in their .flipchart format, you’re pretty much tied to Promethean software I’m afraid.

1. Import into Smart Notebook

Smart Notebook does allow you to import from Promethean, but only the older .flp file format and not the newer .flipchart that ActivInspire uses. It’s a little flakey even then, and may not always work. But it is worth a try.

Look under File then Import. Make sure to select the file format to “All Promethean Files”

smart import

2. Import from PowerPoint
The same feature will also allow you to import PowerPoint files into SMART Notebook. Change the file type to “PowerPoint” and open. Again this may be a little flakey and need some work once converted. Of course, you can’t get your ActivInspire files into PowerPoint format, so this option is limited. Also if you do have PowerPoint resources you’ve been using at your old school they will work in PowerPoint at your new school. Import them into SMART notebook if you want to jazz them up a little.

3. Use ActivInspire Personal version
You can get hold of ActivInspire on a personal licence which will at least allow you to access your files and explore them from your computer. You could also purchase a full licence which you can legally use on other brands of interactive whiteboard

Other workarounds might be possible. If you know of any please let me know via the comments, or via email and I’ll add them to the blog post.

 

Author: Danny Nicholson

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing / interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Please get in touch with your training requests.

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20 Comments

  1. The makers of these awful pieces of software are perhaps keen to lock you in. The manufactures and their resellers must be really worried about the prospect of good quality, cheap educational apps running on tablets and iPads.

    When I run SMART Notebook with its circa os x version 1 / windows 3.1 mashup interface, REALBasic feature set and crash-on-demand behaviour, I wonder if it is really 2011. Utterly shameful.

  2. Excellent post. Thanks for the clear, concise information on changing IWB’s. I will definitely share this with teachers.

  3. Thanks for this Danny – I think there is a Promethean board at the new school, so am downloading the software now to try out the conversion! Incidentally, I did end up re-making a presentation in pptx last week. It needed a big overhaul anyway: http://goo.gl/FcCk9

    Reading through some of the related posts, it looks like the .iwb file extension might be fun. As one commenter said though, it would be great to see a Google version!

    Thanks again,

    Stephen

  4. I can see why both companies want to lock users in – but it’s unfair on teachers who won’t have a choice about the platform used in a new school – and also for student teachers.

    I still think that Microsoft is missing a trick in not putting an “interactive” mode into PowerPoint that’s easy to use.

    As big screens become bigger and thinner and we lose the need for a projector, the market will continue to change and systems using tablet pcs and large screens will gain a foothold. A non-brand specific fully-featured piece of “whiteboard” software would definitely prove popular.

  5. Thinking about the move between platforms and the headache it causes, as well as the feeling of being ‘locked in’ does lead me to question the value of having the actual board itself. One of the reasons I like the SMART software is that the students can have it on their laptops and use it as an interactive text – more interaction with the content and less with the board.

    As you have said, the upcoming hand-held screens of tablets and the like are going to be a real challenge for the IWB manufacturers, as they facilitate more effective and authentic collaboration: student-to-student rather than student-to-board.

    An ‘interactive’ mode for powerpoint would be great. A ‘convert to iPad’ software would be awesome.

  6. thanks DJ – yeah its great. 🙂

  7. Hi there,

    This sounds great as I am moving to a school that has Promethean after many years of working with Smartboard.

    Just wondering can I download the Promethean software for free at all so I can start converting the smartboards now.

    Thanks,

  8. You can download ActivInspire from here (you’ll need to sign up to Promethean Planet to get the download button) http://support.prometheanplanet.com/server.php?show=nav.19251

    Will work for 60 days, then revert to a Personal edition. If you can get your serial number from school then you can unlock it permanently.

  9. This is a GREAT post! Here’s a few notes from an avid Promethean user –
    Promethean does offer a product for PowerPoint it’s called Promethean ActivOffice, This product allows for an interactive interface on top of PowerPoint. It is only available on Windows machines. (http://www.prometheanworld.com/us/english/education/products/classroom-software/promethean-activoffice/)

    Its unfortunate that there isn’t one standard presentation software for IWB users like PowerPoint… but PowerPoint isn’t meant to be interactive… it’s for lecturing and presenting. Teachers should make their lessons interactive.

    I’ve also been under the impression that SMART notebook files can be imported into Inspire but not the other way around… their file extension is no longer .flp but it is .flipchart.
    Promethean’s Inspire files can be exported as a CFF (.iwb) and Powerpoint, SMART notebook items, and PDF’s can all be imported into Promethean’s ActivInspire Software.
    I don’t have a lot of experience with SMART Notebook, but I’ve always heard that Promethean’s software is 1000x better.

  10. Hi,

    Is there any tool for smart to flipchart conversion or vice versa?

  11. Yet Smart does not let you import ActivPrimary it only lets to import FLP files which is the earlier edition. That doesn’t help when my files are created with a newer software.

  12. Hi, Do you know anything about Mimio boards? Is there anyway to import SMARTboard or ActivBoard files to use with a Mimio board easily? Thanks so much

  13. Hi Janet – I think the Mimio software does let you import Smart Notebook files. I don’t have the software installed, but I’m sure there’s an import option on the Files menu.

  14. Danny you mention if you “purchase the full version of activinspire you can use it on other brands of interactive white boards”. Does this mean that once full version (of activinspire) is purchased it can somehow be recognized or imported into SMART board software (SMART notes?) I will do anything to be able to easily convert my flipcharts to SMART notes or even powerpoint if text/pics are editable. Thanks for any info you can provide.

  15. Hi Gina.

    No – it means that you can run the Activ inspire software on a computer that’s connected to a Smartboard. So you would use that in place of Smart Notebook. You’d still need Smart Notebook installed to get the drivers etc to make the board work.

    It’s not very easy to get ActivInspire files into Smart Notebook. Promethean removed the Export to Powerpoint feature that used to be in earlier versions of ActivInspire / ActivStudio, which is annoying.

  16. Is there any direct way to convert SmartNotebook files into Starboard software? Our building is under construction and we are rolling over to Hitachi wall mount projectors with Starboard software. Any assistance would be appreciated.

  17. Hi Audrey. Not totally sure, I’ve always refused to support Starboards since the software was awful. I’d suggest investigating alternative software such as ProWise Presenter which lets you import Smart Notebook files.

  18. For anyone wanting to move away from SMART Notebook or Promethean ActivInspire, there is a software package called IWBPro / DigiClass by a UK company called iBoardTouch which can open both SMART and Promethean files.

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