Integrating Technology In K12/SmartBoards in a Classroom
Technology is an ever changing medium in the world we live in today. Schools across the world are increasingly integrating technology into the classroom each day. The use of technology is both beneficial for the students and the teacher. One source of technology that has proved to be beneficial in the classroom is a Smart Board. Some benefits of Smart Boards include the increase in interactive instructional tools, create more interest and motivation among students, display attractive graphics, improve lectures with audio-visual tools, provide better instructional materials, and can also cater to all learning styles. In such a setting, this new technology enables a quality learning environment. The goal of integrating a Smart Board into the classroom is to improve student achievement and increase their technology literacy. This can be done with both the teacher and the students' efforts.
Smart Board Defined 
A Smart Board is technology created by SMART Technologies. It is an interactive projection display that projects the computers video output. A Smart Board operates with the combination of the interactive whiteboard, a computer, a projector, and a Smart Board software. The projection screen is available as a white board or as a display frame that fits over a plasma screen. The board can either be mounted or portable. The device is touch screen that allows the operator to manipulate content with the touch of a finger. Functions on the Smart Board such as scrolling and mouse click works the same way as it would on a computer. The Smart Board typically comes with four digital markers: red, blue, black, and green, and one digital eraser. The markers and eraser are housed in the pen tray. The markers work digitally, and do not actually contain any ink. The technology is in the pen tray; when a pen or the eraser is removed the optic sensors detect its absence. A touch from the pen, a finger, or any other object will then appear in that color of pen removed from the tray. Below the pen tray are two buttons. One button is used like a right click on the computer for functions such as; copy, paste, select all, etc. The other button brings up a traditional key board, displayed on the screen that by touch can be used. Only one finger can be on the board at once though, so you cannot rest your hand on the board with your fingers on the home row as you would on a computer. The computer and board work hand-in-hand together. When something is done on the computer, it appears on the Smart Board and vice-versa. Smart Board Software is needed for your computer to use to actually connect your computer to the Smart Board. The software is called Smart Notebook and is suitable for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Smart Notebook is a content delivery platform and is similar to PowerPoint. It includes animations, templates, manipulatives, and other useful tools for creating lesson plans and presentations. SMART Technologies has several other software programs that work with a Smart Board for specific content areas.
Smart Boards have many advantages in the classroom. First of all, there are many benefits of Smart Boards for students in the classroom. This electronic whiteboard is interactive and great for demonstrations. Students would enjoy an interactive Smart Board lesson because the subject would come alive and bring reality into the classroom. Smart Boards provide a means of learning for all students, including students with different learning styles. Most students learn by actually doing and physically interacting with a medium, so Smart Boards would give students the opportunity to explore and manipulate concepts of a lesson. Also, students of every grade level show increased motivation and enjoy the interaction that the technology offers. The use of a Smart Board would capture the attention of students and also encourage participation.
There are many advantages for students with the use of Smart Boards, however teachers also benefit by using this technology. For instance a lesson incorporating the use of a Smart Board engages not only the students, but also the teacher. During the lesson the teacher would be modeling that he/she is also interested in the lesson; therefore reinforcing that they are lifelong learners. Another advantage for the teacher is that it gives them instant access to many electronic resources. For example, the Smart Board provides instant internet access during a lesson, so a student's unanswered question can be answered immediately instead of waiting a day or two. Another huge advantage of Smart Boards is that teacher can plan lessons with so much more imagination. With the use of the Smart Board teaching any concept is possible and easier. Pages can be automatically saved, printed, emailed, or even pasted into a website. Flip-charts, all sorts of document, and presentations all can be created. The possibilities are endless. Another positive aspect about Smart Boards is that the software comes with ready made layouts. Layouts can be found on the internet, some created by SMART and others created by other teachers across the world. The layouts can be modified to fit each teachers own lesson appropriately. This would come in handy for teacher who do not have a lot of time to create a lesson.
Like any other technology, Smart Boards also have disadvantages. First, Smart Boards are very expensive. The cost of the actual board, the software, projector, and installation fees are very high; approximately $1000, but can vary depending on model and year. For school districts, such a rural school and smaller schools that already have low funding, this can be a problem as they do not have as much access to such technology. Because of the high cost, if a school district is able to purchase this technology, the school may only be able to afford one or two. That means that not every teacher will have access to the Smart Board. Even if a portable Smart Board on wheels is purchased, teachers still would have to check out the Smart Board for use in their classroom. Not all students would have access to this technology. Also, teachers need to be trained to use this new technology. The software can be challenging to learn and practice is often needed to become an expert. A lot of time and money needs to be invested into the training process. Another downfall of Smart Board technology is that most Smart Board specialist come from outside the school district. Teachers do not have easy access to someone with the knowledge and questions cannot be answered right away. Also, some teachers may pick up the information quickly, whereas others may need additional training or support before they feel comfortable incorporating the Smart Board into their classroom. For these teachers, the new technology may be too overwhelming and cause disruptions and frustrations in the classroom due to lack of proper training. The technology would then be only a hindrance rather than a help in the classroom.
Another disadvantage of Smart Boards is that they require maintenance. Like other electronic equipment, Smart Boards also need to be kept working properly and installed with the proper updates. Most of the time teachers are the ones that need to find the time and download these updates, which may cause a problem. This may require additional technology assistants to be hired to help with problems that arise with the Smart Board and also keep the Smart Board updated.
Smart Boards can also be a problem if they are not working correctly on a given day. A teacher would always need to have a back-up lesson plan or activity in case the technology crashes. Additional time would need to be put into planning each day for the teacher.
One other issue dealing with smart boards is the cost. This new technology cost a significant amount of money.
Incorporation into the Classroom 
There are many ways that a Smart Board can be used in a classroom. First, there are many different tools that accompany the software on a Smart Board. Some of these include the camera tool, drawing tool, split tool, and many, many more. The camera tool would allow teacher to take a picture of the screen. This would be useful if class time was running, the teacher could take a picture of the screen and what place they are in the lesson and then start right back at that place the next day. The drawing tool could also be very useful. It allows teachers and students to draw shapes or objects which would become useful for a geometry lesson. Also the split tool allows teachers to split the screen into two screen. This would be useful in a math classroom so that the teacher could show a problem on one side and then also show the work on the other side of the screen without having to click back and forth between screens. These are just three examples of some of the tools that the Smart Board software offers. There are many, many more that teachers can explore and find ways to use them in their classrooms.
One classroom use idea for the Smart Board would be to introduce fractions to younger students in elementary grades. The teacher would prepare an interactive activity where the students would have to go up to the board to identify different fractions. For example, the teacher could have different objects, some the same and some different, and the students would have to come up with the fraction of like objects compared to those of different objects. Since only one person can be up at the Smart Board at a time, the other students would be trying to figure out the problem on their own personal whiteboards. Students could then take turns going up to the board and demonstrating their knowledge to the class. All students would then be eager to come to interact with the board and practice their skills.
Another classroom activity incorporating a Smart Board, that teacher could use in an intermediate classroom setting, would be the frog dissection application. This application shows a frog on the board along with all the tools and materials needed to complete the dissection. The teacher could set up the lesson by teaching the students the different terms and procedure of dissecting the frog. Then instead of having to buy the frogs for dissection, the students could actually do it virtually. The application allows for exploration and dissection of the frog, just like an actual frog would allow for. This is a good way to bring reality into the classroom with the use of Smart Boards. Students would still have the same opportunities to learn, just with the use of the new technology.
A useful classroom Smart Board activity to use for high school students in a history class would be to have them research a certain time period. Then they would be in charge of creating an interactive story about a character from that time period. They could focus on such things as what they would wear, where or how they would work, family life, and/or including other aspects as well. After creating their presentation they would present and teach it, getting the class involved with what they learned.
There are so many learning possibilities for classroom use of the Smart Board. These are just a few, but there are endless options of how to incorporate this new technology into the classroom.
Technology is found everywhere in this world so it only seems right to begin incorporating it into the classroom. One way to do this is by purchasing a Smart Board and incorporating it into daily lesson plans. Smart Boards are interactive and fun for both the students and teachers and have proved to be beneficial. In order to be beneficial for the students though, teachers need to make it interactive and get the students involved with each activity presented on the board. With increased involvement and engagement, the students will gain more knowledge and become excited about school and learning. The goal of technology incorporation is to increase students' learning, which is something the Smart Board can accomplish.