Are Smart Boards SMART?

By Paul Silli

First, what in the world is a Smartboard? If you don’t know… according to Wikipedia, a Smartboard or interactive whiteboard is a large, touch-controlled screen that works with a projector and a computer (Wiki, ref-3). The projector throws the computer’s desktop image onto the interactive whiteboard (usually in the front of a room), which acts as both a monitor and an input device. Users can write on the interactive whiteboard in digital ink or use a finger to control computer applications by pointing, clicking and dragging, just as with a desktop mouse.

Now that you know a bit about this new technology, I refer back to my original question. Are Smart Boards smart? Maybe yes, or perhaps no!

There is no doubt that this colorful-board technology rocks for educational uses. You can have a student come up to a board in front of a class, and by using his or her fingers, can interact with it to perform many “hands-on” activities. But where this technology falls short — is in the depth of your pockets. You see, Smart Boards are very expensive to purchase for an average K12 School. They cost about $1,200 to $3,000 per unit, and that does not include the cost for a fast computer to run it, and you also will need a modern projector to show the image onto a screen — Visit this link for: Estimated Costs, (near $5,000).

Unfortunately, most schools, especially the one’s I have visited, do not have the essential budget to pay for such a techie-device. And for those schools that do have the budget, and decide to buy a Smart Board, often do not have the needed technical support to teach the teachers how to use the boards. Sadly, in many schools, Smart Boards just sit in a media center storage area collecting dust because staff members simply do not know how to use them.  

What is the value of educational technology if it is so overpriced that most of the public can not afford to use it? Technology needs to be cost efficient and user friendly if it is to be “innovative.” 

To see the many benefits of using a Smart Board visit LEARN: http://www.learnquebec.ca/en/content/pedagogy/cil/teach/smartboardworkshop/

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2 Responses to “Are Smart Boards SMART?”

  1. Brent Wilson Says:

    So let’s see…

    – SmartBoards are a cool presentation device

    But:

    – SmartBoards are too expensive for most schools
    – SmartBoards take considerable training to use effectively
    – SmartBoards reinforce the teacher-centric model of instruction

    Sounds to me that they will remain a luxury item. Certain subject areas – math for example – may make strides. But it’s going to have to go from teacher to teacher, by word of mouth.

  2. Paul Says:

    I agree. They are terrific tech for education, but are costly and need staff training to run them…


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