What’s the point of having an amazing interactive touchscreen with an incredible file access system if you don’t use it? Under the current climate of “bubbles” and social distancing, it’s more important than ever to be able to access shared files that colleagues from another bubble may need to send us.
With an IMPACT screen it is easy to prepare lesson content at home for retrieval directly at the board for any colleague in school that needs it. And there are several ways to do this. Armed with an “Example” file of each of the four Office apps, I set out to prove it...
1. Memory stick / USB stick / flash drive
The most basic way of sharing content is to use the trusted USB memory stick.
It has to be non-encrypted to work within the IMPACT's file system – but many schools allow teachers to have such sticks for lesson content only. Your GDPR protected sticks with sensitive information on them just won’t work – and that's probably a good thing.
Files from your memory stick can be transferred to the memory of the IMPACT screen. Within the Files option from the main menu, it was easy to copy and paste my Example files into the board’s storage. You can then open your Office files straight in the board, an app called WPS Office will allow you to do that. More on how well it works later…
This remote file sharing system allows your PC or laptop to detect your IMPACT screen as a network. Once connected via the screen’s IP address, you can send files between devices – including other IMPACT screens if they are linked up too.
Long time users of Clevertouch screens may need to sit down for my next discovery. Accessing the board’s files from your laptop now means that YOU CAN PRINT FROM THE STORAGE OF THE BOARD! Of course, you already could – by transferring files to a memory stick or saving them to your cloud and then accessing them on your PC – but this really feels like cutting out the middle man. Anyway, it was no hassle at all to copy my Example files and paste them into the storage of the board.
3. Cloud Drive
It’s amazing to me how many teachers I meet that are terrified of saving their files onto a cloud. Even the thought of setting one up is daunting, but once I explain that anyone with a Gmail account already has a Google Drive, the possibility becomes one important step closer.
Clevertouch’s IMPACT and IMPACT Plus can access both Google Drive and OneDrive from the integrated cloud app, but other clouds could be signed into via the inbuilt browser or Chrome app. Even the much-anticipated Lynx Cloud, that will accompany the imminent launch of Clevertouch’s new Lynx
Whiteboard, could be accessed directly from your board.
With my Example documents safely pasted into my cloud accounts, it was easy to sign into both OneDrive and Google Drive from the cloud app in the Apps section of the main menu. Now I had the option of either opening the documents using WPS Office or accessing the clouds from the Chrome browser and using the Office programs linked to each cloud drive. I could even download the free Microsoft Office apps from the Cleverstore free of charge.
If you’d like to know how I got on with Google Docs, please see my earlier blog.
4. OneDrive and Office 365
I logged in to my OneDrive using the inbuilt browser and could immediately access my files. I opened my PowerPoint first. After my explorations of Google Docs, I wasn’t expecting the level of touchscreen capability I received. I could do everything directly via the IMPACT screen.
The PowerPoint I had created had transitions, entrance animations and sounds. Not only did they all perform in Slide Show mode, but I could edit them as well. I could add new content and assign animations to them too. Text boxes and pictures were easy to edit, resize and move around the screen. The slideshow function worked perfectly with the screen. I could swipe back and forth to move between slides and transitions.
My Excel document included ready-made charts and data sheets. Again, everything was editable – right down to the titles and axis labels of my graphs. There was also a reader view that was perfect for displaying the data without fear of tampering. I could also create whole new spreadsheets if I so chose. All via the touchscreen – no PC involved at all!
What happened with my Word document really surprised me. Upon opening, editing the document did not appear to be an option (at first) – although I discovered a wonderful tool in the three-dot menu: Immersive Reader. My text came alive, read by a smooth realistic voice. The option to let the screen take over during storytime was suddenly a real possibility! You could even colour code different word classes (such as nouns and verbs) and translate your text into other languages. Hearing one of my short stories converted into French gave me the warm glow of instant international success!
The Word documents look great – but it’s a shame there isn’t the same editing capability offered by Excel and PowerPoint. Opening the document from within OneDrive on my laptop allows me to edit, but via the IMPACT's browser, the document is converted into a .pdf for viewing only. Most often, this will be fine as the document I had made included tables and images and all had converted perfectly. But hold on! Signing in to OneDrive via the board’s Chrome app instead of the browser, meant that the option to “Open in Desktop App” became active and utilised the WPS Office app to do so. Editing live on screen was now possible. Read on to discover how well WPS performs
As for Publisher, sadly there doesn’t appear to be a way to open such files online – unless you convert them into a .pdf first. Admittedly, you then lose the ability to edit. However, if you just want to access and display Publisher documents you’ve made on your PC, accessing them via OneDrive works perfectly.
And don’t forget, at any time you can access pen annotation and crop tools from the IMPACT's floating pencil tool - as you can no matter what is being displayed on screen.
To open files directly in the board, without the need for a browser, Clevertouch provides the WPS Office app. As with OneDrive, Publisher is not supported, but the Adobe Reader app (which is also included within the apps section) will open anything converted in .pdf and will let you add notes, signatures and annotations.
Ploughing onward, I decided to open the other three documents from a variety of locations. Directly from the WPS Office, I could browse the IMPACT's storage area (as well as noticing an intriguing invitation to sign in to a DropBox account), and so I opened the Word document that I had pasted there from my memory stick.
I was able to edit anything I liked with ease and then switch to reader view for effortless navigation and presentation. It also had its own annotation and highlighting tools – almost as good as the Impact’s own annotation tools.
I opened my Excel document from my Google Drive account accessed via the Cloud app. Editing was easy and I could insert images from elsewhere in the board’s storage. The annotation tools were present as well.
Finally, I opened my PowerPoint document from my OneDrive folder in the same way I had for Google Drive - in the Files area from the main menu. Once again, editing was possible (although not as smooth as from OneDrive in the browser) and I could make changes to transitions. When playing my presentation as a slideshow, the IMPACT touchscreen handled it so smoothly – with easy swipes to navigate between slides. Hyperlink buttons worked too – whether jumping out to a website or just switching between slides. With the floating pen tool ready and waiting to make annotations, I knew that I had achieved what I had set out to discover.
The IMPACT and IMPACT Plus screens do NOT need a laptop or PC attached in order to display Office documents. In addition, with so many ways to send your files to the boards and access them, the future of remote and socially distanced learning is looking brighter than ever.
To learn more get in touch with our EdTech expert, Gareth Middleton.
With an IMPACT screen it is easy to prepare lesson content at home for retrieval directly at the board for any colleague in school that needs it.“