Since I've served as a tech coordinator in a larger (but not "large") Christian school, I understand at least some of the challenges they are facing, so I'm always willing to help out if I can. And...I have opinions...
I recently got this email from a principal friend:
Dave,Currently, we have SMART boards in about half of our classrooms. As we contemplate moving forward, I’m wondering if you can give some input to help us make a decision moving forward. We have 6 classrooms that do not have smart boards in them. I’m wondering about the future. Are SMART boards still the best tool to use in a classroom or is there something better out there? Are smart boards on their way out?Being a small school, I don’t have a technology director so am left to fend for myself when it comes to making decisions regarding the implementation of technology. Any input you can give would be much appreciated.
This was a great question, I thought. I am honestly sort of wondering the same thing. Here is what I wrote back to him:
This is a great question. My initial gut reaction is that SMARTBoards are not (quite) “on their way out” just yet, but I’m also not sure that they are worth the investment. Honestly, one of the things that haunts me from my time as Tech Coordinator is the huge chunk of money we plunked down to put a SMARTBoard in every single classroom in the school. The reason it haunts me is that most teachers really only used the things as very expensive overhead projectors. I mean, the technology is great, and interactive, and all that, but it really is a single-user device, and a pricey one at that. And most of the teachers at our school were using it to do things that they could literally do with a $300 overhead projector, instead of the $3000ish we spent per SMARTBoard.
In retrospect, I think I should have pushed for getting each classroom 5-6 iPads (or some other device) where the technology is closer to the students. It’s not that kids can’t (or don’t) use the SMARTBoards; they can, and they do. But more often than not in my experience, it’s the teachers using the boards rather than the students. Again, in and of itself, that isn’t a bad thing…but I wonder if it’s truly going to be transformative for students’ learning? I guess I’m suspicious. I’m generalizing, of course, but it seems that the teachers I’ve seen use the SMARTBoards the best with the kids are primary teachers, grades K-2. In the 3-8 classrooms, it tended to be just the teachers using the tech. I will say that I think having a video projector is a fantastic tool in the classroom with lots of possibilities. But does it need to be attached to an interactive whiteboard?
I had some board members and the administrator from another Christian school get in touch with me a year or so ago to ask tech questions too, and as a result of our conversation, I wound up writing a blog post giving my advice for schools developing a technology plan. You can read it here, if you might find it beneficial: http://iteach-and-ilearn.blogspot.com/2013/10/nine-things-schools-should-consider.html
I’m not sure if that’s the kind of answer you were looking for, so please ask more questions if there are things I can clarify. I certainly won’t claim to have all the answers! :-) But I’m happy to play consultant if I can help.
Peace to you,
What do you think? Did I give him the right advice here? Or are interactive whiteboards still the way to go? Just how smart are SMARTBoards for schools in 2015?
|Image by Rebecca Morrison [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]|