Technology Integration In K12 Education/SmartBoards vs White Boards in the Elementary Classroom

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As seen in many school systems, a lot of schools are starting to switch over to an interactive approach to teaching. One of the ways this has been done is through interactive electronic whiteboards, also known as SMART Boards. A SMART Board is a device that is used to replace the standard white board in your everyday classroom. The SMART Board is a device that interacts hand–in-hand with computer software. Students and teachers can draw on the board or use their hands as a mouse to move or draw objects on the board. At any point in time the teacher can save the work that was completed on the SMART Board, just like you would on a computer, and come back to it when needed. Dr. Mary Ann Bell from Gazette stated that SMART Boards offer a wide variety of color and tools to use. Studies have shown that students’ attention span is greater and they are more alert where color is presented and where writing on the board can be customized based on fun features that the software offers. We have seen the shift in classrooms from the traditional whiteboard to these new interactive SMART Boards. There are some advantages and disadvantages to switching over to these new SMART Boards in the classrooms. As we enter a new era in technology it is important as future teachers to consider investing in SMART Boards for your classroom because it really will benefit your students.

What is a SMART Board?[edit | edit source]

A SMART Board is an interactive white board that was created in 1991 by David Martin and Nancy Knowlton.  The name "smart board" refers to an interactive white board which requires software and tools in order to work properly. They are specifically called "SMART" because the company SMART technologies named their interactive whiteboards, SMART Board.  The SMART Board is the first interactive white board to provide touch control computer applications over the standard Microsoft applications.  A SMART Board enables the teacher and students in the classroom to save and store any information that they write on it.  This board also allows for students and teachers to search the web and download programs on the SMART Board itself.  Although SMART Boards act as a computer, this interactive whiteboard does not have the traditional keyboard or mouse.  The SMART Board has a tray at the bottom of the screen which holds SMART Board pens.  These trays have sensors in them so the board knows which tool is being used when the object is lifted from the tray.  The SMART Board also has a function where it allows the user to bring up a keyboard on the screen if you need to type. To operate the keyboard you just simply use it as a touch screen function (touching the key intended). Smart boards also provide us with many math tools (dice, graph paper, charts, protractors, rulers, shapes, and etc.) and supplies to use during math lessons.  When you purchase a SMART Board it comes with two 

software programs. These programs are notebook and SMART book tools. These are both valuable software programs, but can be difficult and frustrating to work with if you do not use them correctly. As a teacher using a smart board you are able to create lessons, projects, powerpoints and much more on a computer and transfer this to your smart board to enable student interaction during class. Smart boards are compatible with all Microsoft office software programs.
Today smart boards are not only being seen across the world in classrooms, but smart boards are also being used in college lecture halls, group meetings, and presentations. If you are a smart board user an important website to utilize is Smart Exchange. This is a website created by SMART Technologies where teachers post lessons they have created and used in their classrooms. The lessons posted on the website are available for teachers to download and use in their classroom without giving credit to whomever created it. As a teacher when you create something worth while you should contribute in posting your own lessons for others to utilize as well. If you download a lesson you are able to make changes, only use portions, expand the lesson, or do whatever you want to the lesson to make it most valuable for your own classroom. Click Smart Exchange to visit website.

How It All Got Started?[edit | edit source]

Smartboards began being seen in school classrooms in 1991 when schools decided it was time to begin integrating technology into their everyday curriculum. The first smart board was an LCD pannel and a computer running integrated programs. This "smart board" was designed to work as a large display screen. Intel Corporation took an interest in these piece of technology and became a minority investor in the company in the year of 1992. New versions of the smart board are released every year, as our knowledge in technology increases so does the development of smart boards. In the year 1999 the first plasma display smart board was introduced.

Use In A Classroom[edit | edit source]

  • Digital storytelling/reading books online
  • Brainstorming/teacher OR student "think out-louds"
  • Note taking on any specific page (allows teachers or students to add to work at any given time)
  • Ability to use interactive websites as a whole class
  • Teach many editing skills (can bring up any students typed work or photocopied work to edit)
  • Can teach many computer skills and give internet navigation directions
  • Use highlighting tool to help students study and highlight important information
  • Create whole class projects (gives you ability to save and change work and incorporates class participation)
  • Insert tables, graphs, charts, and keep records on the interactive board itself
  • Gives teachers and students ability to share their work/projects with parents/guardians or others interested
  • Incorporates graphics for special education students or ELL students
  • Electronic word wall (add to this daily)
  • Save lessons to reteach students who were absent or need extra help
  • Use built in maps to help teach and learn geography
  • Morning meeting messages (you can start your day by having a message on the smart board and having an interactive mailbox where students could go up to the board and write any questions or comments they have for the teacher or any other students for the day or about what they have done/learned in the past). By having a morning meeting message that allows you to save the work you can go back to this message at the end of the day to be sure you have answered all students questions.
  • Prepare students for test/exams by playing games on the board
  • When the smart board is not being used for anything you can display different types of clocks or timers to keep students on track, (timers for literacy circles) this gives students a visual of the time they have to work in groups with one another.
  • Use the smart board as a tool to introduce students, teachers, or other topics (first day of school introductions)
  • Smart boards allow students to teach the teachers
  • When teaching math lessons or using dice for games you can make the dice interactive, by clicking the die it will automatically roll (when using interactive materials like the dice this can intruige students' motivation to participate and learn)
  • The interactive board can be used to take morning attendance, lunch count, and milk count (this way once finished with attendance you can close out of the program and choose to not save changes which would put the page back to how you started, saving a lot of valuable classroom time) (This also involves the children and keeps them busy when they all come in at different times in the morning) (helps build hand eye coordination)
  • When doing vocabulary or any similar lessons in the classroom the smart board has a tool called a shade which allows you to cover some of the page only displaying what you want at a certain time (the shade can be moved from top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right, or right to left)
  • Smart boards contain a tool called "recognize" this allows the student or teacher to choose the recognize tool on a certain object or writing and the computer will change it to a computer font so it is clear for the entire class to read (this allows student to still do the work and also allows students to recognize their mistakes, if the board is unable to recognize the material they have made a mistake)
  • If a student is absent or you want to give students the material you have went over in class for the day the smart board allows you to print everything you have worked on including the notes you have taken your material

Advantages & Disadvantages[edit | edit source]

As with any new item that is being introduced, one must consider the advantages and disadvantages before jumping to any conclusions. Many would say that SMART Boards are an excellent resource to have in classrooms because there are so many pros to having them in the classroom. Dr. Mary Ann Bell from created a list of advantages of SMART Boards in the classroom that she has gathered based on communicating with other teachers. Here is a list of some of those advantages to having a SMART Board in the classroom, as opposed to having a traditional whiteboard in the classroom.

  1. The board is set up to meet the needs of various learning styles in the classroom. Those hands on learners can benefit from the SMART Board by physically going up to the board and marking or moving an object on the board with their hands. Students who are auditory learners can learn best through class discussions that center around the use of the SMART Board in the classroom. Those students who are visual learners are able to see and make sense of what is happening and being created on the board. If they have any questions they are able to verbalize those questions based on what is being displayed on the board.
  2. The SMART Boards do not require the teacher to use chalk, dry erase markers, erasers, etc. The only thing the teacher needs to use with the board is the computer markers or the teachers’ hands. No need to replace dry markers or broken chalk.
  3. The board works great for whole class discussions and lessons related to science and math. If the class is participating in a science activity and they are collecting data, all the student has to do is collect the data and record it on the SMART Board. Instead of the entire class writing down what everyone in the class collected, the teacher can save the document and print out enough copies for every student in the classroom.
  4. Students of all ages love the SMART Board because it is interactive and interlinked with computer software. Students love working on computers, so this is essentially a large interactive computer in the eyes of a student. They can browse websites on the SMART Board along with play online interactive games to get them using their fine and large motor skills.

Listed above were some advantages of having a SMART Board in the classroom, and how it benefits from replacing the traditional whiteboard to something more interactive in the classroom. To get both sides of the story you must look at the good qualities and the bad qualities to any big purchase you are going to be making. Some disadvantages to switching over to SMART Boards instead of the traditional whiteboards are:

  1. The cost of smart boards is very expensive, and the set up takes some time. According to from 2010, the typical cost of a SMART Board can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $6,000. With budget cuts hitting schools really hard lately, it would be hard to afford something that expensive in the classroom. Some schools simply can not afford it because it is so expensive.
  2. Whereas whiteboards are very self explanatory to know how to use; you just need a dry erase marker and an eraser, SMART Boards often take training classes in order to understand everything it is capable of doing. It takes time to understand how these boards work in the classroom and what they are capable of doing. Since it comes with its own software, you have to familiarize yourself with the software before you can even start using the board to its full potential.
  3. With whiteboards the teacher can have multiple students up at the board working on a problem or writing down important information. A SMART Board only allows for one person to write on the board at a time. Since it is essentially a big computer, it can only pick up one signal at a time. If you want multiple students to share their responses to something and write it on the board, you are better off using the traditional whiteboard.
  4. In order for the SMART Board to run properly, it needs to have installed the required software. The software is an added expense, so you have to add that on to the total cost of the board. Since it is a computer, at any point in time it could malfunction and stop working, than as the teacher, what do you do? Do you have a backup plan? Whiteboards do not require any software and you never have to worry about it breaking or the software not working.

Training and Professional Development[edit | edit source]

Visit SmartTech to find out where to go for training on SMART Boards and to also connect to other SMART Board users. SMART provides a variety of ways for educators to connect and collaborate to make the most of the SMART products.

Here is a list of what is offered:

  • SMART Exchange online community: It’s the place to be for teachers who use SMART products and want to share tips and success stories about using interactive technology in your classrooms. You can post your favorite lesson activities and download those created by others. The SMART Exchange has thousands of active members from around the world and is growing daily.
  • Content creation seminars: Provide instruction and best practices for creating content with SMART Notebook collaborative learning software. Available for teachers with intermediate skills in SMART Notebook software, these seminars teach you how to create interactive lesson activities based on curriculum standards. You’ll also collaborate with others teaching in your grade and subject area to design and build lessons. Lesson activities created at each seminar are then shared with other teachers through the SMART Exchange.
  • Consultation services: The team of consultants are made up of experienced educators who can help you plan a successful technology implementation. Available in a growing number of areas around the world, the consultants will work with you to evaluate and select classroom technology products and help design your implementation strategy. As you roll out your plan, the team ensures that you have the right training and professional development programs for your staff. This also gives teachers tools to effectively incorporate the products and resources in all subject areas and grade levels.

SMART Board Products and Accessories[edit | edit source]

  • SMART Board interactive whiteboards: Combine the simplicity of a whiteboard with the power of a computer to bring interactivity to virtually any learning environment.
  • SMART Board interactive displays: Discover the power of touch interactivity and high-resolution visuals - together. SMART Board interactive displays give you the functionality of SMART Board interactive whiteboards - finger and pen navigation, digital ink and the ability to save your work - combined with the brilliant visuals of flat-panel displays.
  • SMART Podium interactive pen displays: Bring any presentation to life with an interactive pen display that allows you to effortlessly interact with digital content and project it on a screen for your students to see.
  • SMART Table interactive learning center: Enable several students to gather, work and explore together on the world’s first multitouch, multiuser interactive learning center for early education.
  • SMART Response interactive response systems: Obtain quick insight into learning, track student performance and organize assessment results with our interactive response systems.
  • SMART Document Camera: Turn your classroom into a spontaneous and dynamic learning environment by displaying real-time images of any static or moving object. You can also capture images or video and transform them into digital content for later use.
  • SMART Slate wireless slate: Interact with your digital content from anywhere in the room. Wirelessly control applications, write on your SMART Board interactive whiteboard or interactive display using the slate, and see your work projected onto a screen at the front of the room.
  • SMART Audio classroom amplification system: Amplify learning by making sure students can hear every word, no matter where they are sitting. This classroom amplification system distributes sound evenly throughout the room using speakers and wireless microphones.
  • SMART Notebook collaborative learning software: Create, deliver and manage interactive lessons with SMART Notebook software, and add SMART Notebook Math Tools to get everything you need to make math lessons more engaging. We also offer SMART Notebook SE (Student Edition), which helps you personalize learning, and SMART Notebook Express, so educators everywhere can open, interact with and share SMART Notebook software files.
  • SMART Sync classroom management software[1]: Spend more time teaching and less time supervising in computer-enabled classrooms. Monitor your students’ online activity, broadcast to multiple screens, give students direct support and keep your classes focused on learning.
  • SMART Classroom Suite interactive learning software: Transform any computer-enabled classroom into a collaborative, interactive and highly efficient learning environment with these four integrated, easy-to-use SMART software applications.
  • SMART Ideas concept-mapping software: Help students visualize and analyze complex ideas by building multilevel interactive maps.
  • SMART product accessories: Get more from your SMART Board interactive whiteboards and interactive displays with accessories that will save you time and enhance the flexibility of your SMART products.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

SMART Boards are great interactive devices that will benefit any classroom. The SMART Board is used to replace the traditional white board. SMART Boards can be used in the classroom many different ways. For example, the teacher can do digital storytelling/reading of books online, brainstorming with students and teacher during “think out-loud,” note taking, and gives the ability to use interactive websites as a whole class. The SMART Board allows for more interaction from the students and is set up to meet the needs of various learning styles. The teachers do not have to worry about using chalk and getting the chalk dust everywhere and they no longer have to worry about buying dry erase markers when their other markers dry up. There are other products and accessories available to use with a SMART Board, which can tailor the SMART Board to fit all the needs of children in the classroom. There are many advantages to using the SMART Boards in the classrooms, but there are also some disadvantages to take into account. Technology is great, but with any device, you always should be prepared if problems occur. Teachers should have a backup plan for their lessons if the SMART Board were to stop working for whatever reason. The biggest disadvantage is SMART Boards are a lot more costly than a white board, which may be difficult for many schools to afford, especially with the economy the way it is right now. rResearch shows that there are so many benefits for the students if they are introduced to using a smart board. Not only do the teachers enjoy using them, the students enjoy it as well and it helps make learning fun for them.

References[edit | edit source]

Archer, B. (2003). In What is a Smartboard?. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from

How to Incorporate Technology Into The Classroom. (2010). In Teachers Network. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from

SMART. (2010). Featured Products. In SMART Boards: Serving The New York Tri-State Area. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from

Smart Technologies. (2010). All SMART Products. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from

Smart Technologies. (2010). Content and Community. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from

Springgay, J. (2010). What is the History of the Smart Board?. In eHOW. Retrieved December 1, 2010, from

Teacher Net. (2002, January). Teacher Future. In Teacher.Net. Retrieved November 23, 2010, from

  1. Watson, Judy. "Classroom Management Software".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)