Smartboard Trials and Tribulations

Last quarter I received a Smartboard to use for the quarter on a trial basis via the TELR Smart SEED program at Ohio State. I’ve been really impressed with how smoothly the Smartboard works as an interface.  Compared to the $50 Wii-based version, the Smartboard requires much less calibration and feels more natural without the LED pen.  In short, it’s a really slick product.  However, the sheer size of the portable version has been a big barrier to me.

Unfortunately, as you can see / hear in the above video, the model I was given was a bit awkward to move and we were not able to find a good place to store it aside from leaving it in the classroom, which was not secure.  I did manage to find a couple of rooms that had permanently mounted Smartboards, which were fantastic, but I wasn’t actually able to regularly use the one I was given.

It would be great to have a Smartboard in every room, but this is a huge initial investment.  Before making this committment, we need to decide that this is a worthwhile investment.  To make this decision, we should give teachers experience with them.  I think this catch-22 can be solved by distributing the $50 Wiimote-based version to decide if it’s worth making the larger committment.

There are lots of articles out there that talk about how interactive whiteboards are transformative, but when you read through the examples of how the technology is used, many of the examples do not fully exploit the technology (i.e. writing can be done on a traditional whiteboard, movies can be projected on a traditional screen).

So, I’m going back to encouraging teachers to build and use $50 interactive whiteboard, but I’m also going to encourage them to use Smartboards, if they are available.  (Another alternative would be to combine the Smartboard software with the Wii-mote-based hardware, but the Smarttech requires a separate license to do this.)

I’m compiling uses for interactive whiteboards by tagging them with me Delicious account (see them at http://delicious.com/eslchill/iwb).  If you have ideas for innovative uses, please share them.  The technology can be transformational, but I’m not sure we’ve found the “killer app” yet.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Smartboard Trials and Tribulations

  1. One app I love with the wii-mote, which I have been using for a while (I also use it to teach ESL) is Crayon Physics Deluxe… a visual background for language.

    look it up, the demo version ROCKS and is fantastic on an iwb…

    Matt

  2. Kristi Richburg

    Have you considered a mimio? Check out this website to find out more: http://www.mimio.com/
    It is completely portable and the software that runs it is very similar to Smart Notebook.

    • Looks like an interesting alternative, Kristi. I like Smart’s boards, and Mimio’s look good, too. For my $50 budget, though, the Wiimote version is still my favorite.

  3. Chas

    I have just received a portable smartboard. I have a very small room that I pull small groups of ESL students into (a large walk-in closet, basically). The portable SB was going to take up so much room that it didn’t even make sense for me to have it (and my district backed off of hanging the projector from the ceiling…which was going to complicate things immensely). I looked behind the board and saw that only 4 screws were holding the board on the stand. I took the board off the stand and hung it on the wall using some metal hooks that connected to my chalkboard. It was, strangely enough, one of the most liberating things I have done pedagogically in my career. I have mounted the projector on a book shelf across from the board and I am in the process of getting long cables to go up and over the drop-ceiling so that students will not trip on anything. I suggest that other teaches “unplug from the portable smartboard matrix” and take that lovely piece of technology right off the stand and mount it on a wall or board. Yours in technology, Neo.

    • What a fantastic idea! Way to take matters into your own hands! This sounds like the kind of solution where if you ask permission first, you will not get it, but once you reveal the results you will be asked to make the same adjustments in every room. What a great edupunk solution to what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest problems with this technology, outside of price. Kudos and thanks for sharing!

  4. Pingback: OutSMARTed « ESL Technology.com

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