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.