for Mac or Windows
Slate is a commercial product intended
to help science teachers create software for use in the classroom. It
is especially designed for
- converting already-typed tests into on-screen tests with
one question per page.
- adding password-protected answer sections to on-screen tests.
- creating illustrated software for classroom activities.
The final lesson/test will have an on-screen
notebook and will run on typical school networks.
Small lessons/tests could be stored
on and used from floppy disks. The authoring
program works through menus
and is accompanied by science-oriented
The clip art is bitmapped and mainly black and white. Coloured
images from scanners, digital cameras and the internet can be
pasted in via the clipboard. Simple shapes can be added, and
text and shapes can be coloured within the program. There are
no clickable authoring palettes and the program is not
intended for printing.
The basic background on which you create
is blank, with only a page number and arrows to go from one screen
to the next. There is also a cover page which moves up when you
click on it or press return. The background is 640x480 pixels
and cannot be changed.
Macintosh system requirements: hard disk, 640x480 monitor, 4 Mb Ram, System
7 or later. Windows system requirements:
486/66 computer with at least 8Mb
RAM running Windows 3.1/95/NT/98,640x480 monitor.
The software is distributed on two high density floppy disks
with an accompanying manual. To give you an idea of how Slate
works here are extracts from the manual.
Designing a simple test
1. Begin with an already word-processed test
(say with 10 questions) and put extra lines containing a hash
character between the questions and at the end. Copy all the
text to the clipboard
2. Open Slate and make a new file (see above). Click the cover
page to see the menubar, then show the notebook . Paste the clipboard
text into the notebook . Save your work .
3. Add 10 pages . Go to page 1 by clicking the page number.
4. While on page 1 choose Text....Paste Text Special with the
Ctrl/command key held down and Slate will set up the questions.
Save your work .
5. Perhaps improve your layout. See below.
6. Show the notebook , drag it by using its top bar, and type
in answers to the questions. Select and copy to the clipboard
the answers you have typed.
7. Create an answer section by choosing File....Go to answers
and paste your answers onto the answer page . Choose Answers....Reveal
the password to find out the current password. Change it if you
wish. Go to the main section (click on the page number). Save
8. Decide on a name and choose File....Create the final lesson.
Improving your layout.
Do this by using the menus. You could change colours, paste shapes
and clip art, change the appearance, size and transparency of
the text items, change the page colour and the cover. You also
may wish to edit some of the text items .
Improving your efficiency
Save often as if the Slate application quits
it will not ask you if you wish to save. Learn the keyboard shortcuts
If you are using a lot of text it is quicker
to do all the text editing in your word processor or in the Slate
notebook, before doing any pasting or formatting.