SMART Boards, Vancouver Parents, and Keeping Up With The Changes

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Have you ever seen a “SMART Board”? I have, and they are impressive. Here’s a great video presentation of the way one teacher uses the SMART Board to teach physics – although really, the video isn’t specific to physics, and is fascinating for anyone who teaches in an instructor-led classroom environment.

And now coming out of Vancouver is the news that “[p]arents of children attending a small elementary school situated in the forest at the base of Grouse Mountain have raised tens of thousands of dollars to equip every classroom with an interactive whiteboard known as a Smart Board.”

(See Parents fundraise to buy Smart Boards for their neighbourhood school.)

But are these devices cost effective in the current technological and economic climate? That’s a good question. For some insight, check out the comments of the first video link I posted above. Here is a sampling:

smartboards are a huge waste of money right now. You can use all the same software on new projectors without the board at all. Smartboards are 10-15 years behind the curve. Why don’t you run out and buy newtons while your at it.

— orcdoubleax, 2 months ago

I do not think the technology will be obsolete, hardware is pretty simple, and besides the cost of the board once your school or company owns it you can get the Notebook software for free. It’s not the board itself that’s magic, it”s SMART Notebook that does wonders. I wonder if the OP still uses that? Looks like a SB585?

— ayran8 2 months ago

you can do the same thing with a writing tablet, laptop, and a projector for a lot less money and also, you won’t be standing in front of it the whole time.

— wsmith1213 5 months ago

you freakin sucker using mac, osx. You S.U.C.K

— johngol10 10 months ago

they’re actually awesome

— daem0nclaw 1 year ago

Ugh.

A ton of money for hardware that wil be obsolete in ten years anyway, and will constantly need more money to upgrade the OS and software.

Meanwhile, ordinary boards will stay just as useful as they always have been and won’t cost a dime more.

— tralfazz 1 year ago 2

What do you think? Are SMART Boards ‘old technology’? Or are they still relevant?

On the one hand, I say yes. They’re cool.

But … they’re not “tens of thousands of dollars” cool.

Now, I’m sure the parents in Vancouver know what they are doing, and understand how best to serve their students. I’m not suggesting that they’ve done something wrong or screwed up, I think they know best how to support their training requirements.

What I AM saying is that an iPad or comparable tablet is a much more cost effective investment in the training environments with which I’m familiar. They also cost a lot less money.

Note one of the comments featured above points out: you can do pretty much the same thing as a SMART Board with a single tablet computer – such as an iPad – and a simple overhead projector. There’s a lot of truth to that.

One of the biggest selling points that was given to me when I first experienced a SMART Board demonstration was the multi-touch capability. Well, that’s true, it does have it, and it’s incredible if you’ve never seen it. But now iPads and iPhones have it. So do Droids for that matter. It’s becoming more common.

So what else does the SMART Board offer? Well – for one – proprietary software with features such as that shown in the video link above, such as the ability to create a PDF. Well, guess what – there’s an app for that, I have that on my iPad now, and it only cost me an additional ten bucks to get it.

And the odds that the next greatest technology leap will occur before those iPads wear out is high. Technology changes quickly, and technology for training is no exception. Parents who work hard to raise funds to invest in technology are all taking a risk, no matter what they buy. Any intelligent decision today runs the risk of looking stupid a year from now. But kudos to the parents who are out there trying, over and above the Monday-morning armchair quarterbacks who criticize them later.

That being said, I find it difficult to see the advantage of a SMART Board in today’s world of tablets and mobile computing.

But that’s just me.

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