A SMART Notebook Troubleshooting Guide for Teachers
All is Not Lost...yet
Sometimes is just seems that SMART Notebook closes for no reason at all, but it can happen to anyone. For instance, when the SMART trainer came to our school to demonstrate our new boards, the software crashed on him at least five times! Right about now, you are probably thinking that if the SMART trainer cannot make it work, then what hope is there for me? Well, there are still a number of things you can do to ensure that SMART Notebook runs smoothly in your classroom, so consider the following.
To the average user, it may seem like there is no earthly reason as to why your SMART Notebook software does not work, but the truth is, there is often a multitude of reasons. Operating systems change, computer hardware advances, and video cards are always improving. At times, these changes, and many more, can cause the existing Notebook version to become unstable and close for no apparent reason. To counteract this problem, SMART is always working on ways to improve and stabilize their product. When it finds a way to do this, it releases an update to the current version.
If you find that your SMART Notebook crashes a lot, a good place to start is to check if you are running the latest version of the software. To do this, Windows users should click 'Help' and then 'Check for updates'. Mac users may need to go to their applications folder and find a folder called SMART Product Update. In that folder there is an icon that will run the SMART Product Update Wizard. Mac users should also note that if they are using Mac OS X 10.4, there is a special download for this on the SMART website. The same goes for any users of Mac OS X 10.3.9.
Add More RAM
For Windows users, the minimum amount of RAM required to run SMART Notebook is 512 mb, but a 1Gb specification is recommended. Mac users need a minimum of 1Gb. I use SMART Notebook on my PC at home, and on my Macbook at school, but I can tell you without hesitation that the difference between the 1Gb RAM on my Macbook, and the 4Gb RAM on my desktop PC, is like night and day. Notebook can be a resource heavy application, so the more help you can give it, the better it will run. Adding more RAM speeds up Notebook, helps eliminate lag, and can lead to fewer program crashes. So, all you need to do now is persuade your district administration to add more RAM to your school computers.
Limit Flash Elements
Many teachers download free SMART board resources from SMART Exchange, and that is great, but if they were originally designed to run on faster, well specified computers, you may find they lag or crash on your computer. If your computer is at, or near, the minimum RAM requirements for Notebook, you should try to limit the number of interactive flash elements you insert into a Notebook file because they require extra processing power to run. The flash elements in the gallery are often identified by an 'f' in the right hand corner of the element. No more than five in one file should help avoid a situation where your SMART Notebook software does not work anymore.
If you are running an older computer with only the minimum hardware requirements, then avoiding multi-tasking can often be a good way to keep Notebook running smoothly. As a teacher, I often have Microsoft Word, Entourage, Adobe Reader, Firefox, and PowerSchool open at the same time so that I can switch between them all when I need them. Adding SMART Notebook to this list can make it slow to respond and prone to crashes. Closing some of your open programs will release more of your computer's resources, and make the programs you have open run quicker and with less problems.
If all else fails and you still find that SMART Notebook closes for no reason, then you should try to uninstall the program from your computer for a fresh installation. You will have received a CDROM with your SMART hardware, but I would encourage you to put that to one side and download the latest version from the SMART website. The program versions on their website are the most up to date builds of this software. If you are also using SMART Response, make sure that you download the combined Notebook and SMART Response file. Once downloaded, uninstall your existing software, and reinstall the latest version. More often than not, this procedure will fix any bugs, or corrupt files, that may have been responsible for crashing your program.
Getting More Help
Schools that have had SMART Boards installed in their buildings will likely have access to a certified SMART trainer. If I can't find the answers that I am looking for, I usually just send an email to our representative to pick his brain. However, if you do not know who this is, or are just looking for someone to bounce some ideas off, then head over to the excellent SMART Board Revolution Ning. This friendly social networking site has thousands of registered members, and an active forum area for teachers to share resources, ask for help, or find some inspiration.
In Case of Emergency...
If you have a Notebook file that you really must use, and you still find that your Notebook is crashing on you, then it is possible to open Notebook files without using SMART Notebook. There are two programs that will do this for you - one is an online tool, and one you can download for your computer. Basically, they are Notebook viewers that will open and allow you to interact with your files. They have limited editing functions, but when you are in a pinch, they might just be your savior when SMART Notebook closes for no reason.
Technology is great when it works well, but inevitably there will often be some hiccups along the way. There may be times when your SMART Notebook software does not work at all, but if you follow the tips in this article you should find that it runs better, and for a longer period of time, without unexpected failures.