What are Smart Boards

Smart Boards or interactive white boards were first developed in 1991 by Smart Technologies – a company founded in 1987 by David Martin and Nancy Knowlton. The technology was first designed to enable groups to interact and share information instantaneously within a room or around the world. The Smart board was the first to come with interactive touch control based on the Windows operating system. Despite being a technologically powerful tool the Smart boards were not readily accepted and it took a lot of effort to create awareness among the potential user group and to show the benefits that the Smart Boards would bring in their day to day work. Teachers were the first group of users of interactive white boards or Smart boards – as it is now commonly known. [1] Over the period of 20 years Smart technologies has continued to develop its interactive board technology Product Milestone

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David Martin and Nancy Knowlton




Technology

The Smart Board is actually a combination of multiple software like Notebook, white boarding software and Smart board tools. They work in a synchronization allowing the overlap of one technology into another. Since the whole technology is based on operating system it is available on Windows, Mac, Linux and other operating systems, furthermore it allows the access and interaction among other software that come along with regular computers like Microsoft word, media players, picture editors, and external softwares like Google earth. Overall Smart boards are much like computers – In computers the interaction happens with the use of keyboards and mouse while in Smart board the user input is detected through touch technology. The synchronization of software allows easy navigation for the user creating an interactive environment. Like a regular whiteboard, markers and eraser the Smart board uses tools like digital ink, digital eraser and a hand held pen or digital pen to allow the user to perform various writing and drawing tasks. Lastly, the Student Response System allows the students to respond at the same time and collaborate their work with fellow students.

Learning Theories

Smart Boards, because of its multiple application and interactive abilities follows several learning theories. The interactive nature of Smart Boards supports the learning type theory. Students learn differently, some are oral learners, some are visual learners and some are kinesthetic learners. The audio - visual display and interactive capabilities of Smart Board that allows the students to participate in classroom activities and learn through either audio, visual or kinesthetic learning process. Depending on how a teacher uses the smart board also relates to learning theory. For example a teacher may use the Smart Board to provide direct instruction to teach multiplication and/or division - the students will follow the steps to complete the task - however in order to do so the student will use specific tools for specific task as done so or displayed by teacher - thus following the behaviorist model of learning. The incorporation of various software like MS Office with in Smart board supports the constructive approach to learning. Furthermore the Smart Board allows a large group of students to learn at the same time, student can respond and interact with each other through their writing tools (Student Response System) - this gives them the opportunity to learn from Social point of view. For example if a teacher poses a task and ask the class to work on it, the students can work not only on their individual part but also help and collaborate with other students to complete the task. Lastly the Smart Board also supports the Cognitive learning theory - the interactive nature of Smart Board allows the student
to observe, write and follow cues to memorize the information and recall it at a later stage.
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A student using Student Response System to interact
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Students working in collaboration to complete the chart on Smartboard


Benefits of using Smart Boards

Smart Board is a new information and communication technology and offers several advantages at student, class and school level
  1. It is a user friendly technology making it easy to use for elementary, middle and high school age students and also for students with special needs and disabilities.
  2. The teacher can use smart board to teach students from a multiple ways thus addressing the diverse learning needs of students and having a highly engaged classroom
  3. The Smart Board technology supports several learning theories and learning styles - thus keeping students eager and motivated for learning.
  4. Helps the teacher streamline their preparation
  5. Smart Boards allow the teachers to save notes thus making the material accessible to students at a later stage.

Challenges of using Smart Boards

The benefits of using Smart Boards outweighs the challenges which to a large extent are technical and financial.
  1. Smart Boards is an expensive technology - a new interactive white board costs about 1500 dollars and there will be additional cost depending on the type of accessories that the user wants.
  2. The Smart Board technology is fairly new and a lot of teachers may face technological problems in accepting and adjusting to the new technology.
  3. Would require fairly regular maintenance and a technical staff to handle such issues creating extra financial burden on the school

Help and Resources

There is a lot of online help and training available for teachers who are interested in using Smart Boards in their classrooms. Smart technology the creators of Smart Boards have educator resource center where teachers can get hands on exposure to activities, training and lesson planning - Educator Resources

Getting a Smart Board

Although getting a smart board is not that easy here are some of the links and grants information that teachers can apply to for the purchase of various technologies including Smart Boards
Where do I buy my Smart Board
Grants

References:

1] Smart Technologies www.smarttech.com/smartboards
2] http://images.forbes.com/media/magazines/forbes/2009/1005/1005_p040-smart_398x280.jpg