Tidbits in Tech: Integration in Education/Are Smart Boards the Next Generation of Black Boards?

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With the increase in technology around the world, it is crucial to look at how we as educators can use technology-based equipment inside our classrooms. Now, more than ever, there is a surplus of gadgets that are easily and readily available. Technology makes our lives run smoothly and efficiently. Tasks that could take days or even weeks to accomplish are now feasible in a matter of minutes. Companies like DELL and Apple are no longer foreign to us. Each have made a household name of themselves and can be spotted virtually anywhere you go. Music can be enjoyed through MP3 players like the I-pod, Zune, Zen or Jukebox versions versus CD players or Casettes, which have become items of the past. The internet is another great resource tool, prevalent in today's society, that has made it increasingly easier for individuals to find out information and research fast. Computers, laptops and even phones have the capability to use the internet and sometimes surpass the amount of information found in books. As citizens living in the United States who are constantly busy we no longer find the motivation or need for going to a library to pursue finding resources and research for our papers. There is simply not enough time in our day and we continue to try to find the most sufficient means of getting this valuable information: through the internet. All we wish to know can be found within a webpage obtained from a few keystrokes and a couple clicks of the mouse. So why should this be any different from the way our education is being taught? Books and readings still provide ample information, but why not use the tools of technology to enhance the teaching of our education? We should be bringing all the available necessities education has to offer because then we know there is no cheating our students of their education. We, as future teachers, need to provide for our students' needs in any way possible and this includes giving them instruction provided by the technology they have grown up and come to know. It is time to welcome technology into our classrooms with open arms. We need to move forward in the way we present information and education because it's not going away anytime soon. One way we can introduce technology into the classroom without forfeiting learning in the process is through an Interactive Whiteboard. Specifically, the use of the SMART board inside the classroom increases students' knowledge and will ultimately prepare them for the future world we will be living in. This useful piece of technology is beneficial and amazing in more ways than one. Not only does it allow students to become engaged in the learning process in an entirely new way, it provides them with the opportunity to grow as individuals. Those who might initially be wary to contribute make significant gains in their participation when using the SMART Board. By exposing students to this piece of equipment, their knowledge and desire to learn about the ever-changing world of technology will flourish. All in all, the SMART board is an extremely worthwhile investment and piece of equipment to have inside every classroom nationwide.

Definitions[edit | edit source]

To understand what a SMART board is we have to take a few steps back to explain the actual definition of one. Even before the idea of a SMART board came around, there were chalkboards and blackboards. A chalkboard is a hard surface usually made out of slate, that you use chalk to write on. The next board that came was called a whiteboard. A whiteboard is a glossy surface that uses a special kind of erasable marker. Both of these boards are still used today. However, this is where SMART boards come in. An overall definition of a SMART board is an interactive whiteboard. This means that the SMART board is electronically hooked up to a computer and then the computer screen is projected onto the white board through a projector. Once projected onto the screen, there are many different programs and objects you can use on the screen. You can touch the screen with your finger or use the provided pen to write on the board. To use a SMART board you must download the program onto your computer. SMART board is the innovative way to teach and to learn. Teachers are able to bring up fun active lesson plans, applications, and much more for students to learn. The students are then able to touch the screen and write or move the objects. There is so much use for a SMART board and it is constantly being improved and to ensure and enhance the most effective learning environment for students.

History[edit | edit source]

Where did the SMART board come from? Who invented it? When was the board first introduced to the world? In this section, we will focus on the actual history and origin of the SMART board. This is crucial knowledge because it allows individuals to understand why the SMART board is a useful tool in the classroom and why it was even invented in the first place.

The SMART board was first introduced in 1991 by a company called SMART Technologies. This board was manufactured to serve as a large display screen in lecture halls, classrooms, and more. In short, it combined the benefits of a computer and a chalkboard/whiteboard in one. In 1992, a company by the name of Intel Corporation decided to explore this idea and went on to become an investor. At first, the idea of the SMART board did not receive positive reactions, but was able to slowly gain support and recognition as a useful technology. Today, more than 100,000 boards have been sold and distributed. Many educators find this interactive tool extremely beneficial because it allows students to become involved and engaged in the lesson. Due to the fact that the SMART Board is “touch-sensitive,” students can feel a sense of ownership and control when interacting with this piece of equipment.

Due to advances and demands in technology, there are several different variations of the SMART board. The earliest models are front projection boards, rear projection boards, in-wall rear projection boards, the SMART notebook, and other useful software. As technology progresses, even more new additions have been added to the board. These additions include the SMART Recorder, meeting productivity software, a wireless slate, the Senteo response system, SMART camera, and the 600i interactive system. On average, the SMART board is sold for $3000-$5000. It is evident that the board is constantly being revised in order to ensure maximum satisfaction and up-to-date technologies for all users.

Issues and Problems[edit | edit source]

As with any technology, problems can occur when utilizing the SMART board and as educators, we must be prepared if the SMART board were to break down. Havre Public Schools in Montana has come up with the most common problems that can be found when using a SMART board and the possible solutions. The most common problems: are

When writing with the stylus, it does not align to where you are writing on the board.

SMART board is not interactive, when writing on the board it does not work.

An image will not show on the actual board.

Care for the SMART board. How to properly care for it when there are fingerprints all over the board.

To help overcome these problems, there is a company available for assistance or several websites, such as the Havre Public Schools. It is necessary to ask for troubleshooting. Another issue with the SMART board is it's effectiveness. Does it really make a difference in the classroom? As of today, there has not been usable research that either proves the benefits of a SMART board or disapproves the use of a SMART board. However, each year more and more classrooms are investing in a SMART board throughout the school. One of the biggest ways to prove that SMART boards can be effective is by having the educators receive proper training in the use of the SMART board. If a SMART board is placed in a classroom where a teacher has not received training, this can lead to unnecessary problems and become ineffective for students. At http://www.education.smarttech.com/ste/en-US/, you are able to receive training tutorials on how to use the SMART board and different applications. Also, by contacting your school super-attendant, it is possible to receive an in-service on how to use this board. By better informing educators on how to use these boards and by how integrating them effectively into the classroom, we will begin to see the problems and issues of the SMART boards decline.

Advantages and Disadvantages
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The SMART board creates an interactive atmosphere in the classroom while also creating meaningful learning experiences. SMART boards can create a lot of hands-on activities for each and every student. These boards have the ability to create an alternate learning atmosphere instead of being the typical one-way lecture, where only teachers lecture students. With a SMART board, students can interact during the actual lecture and go up to the smartboard to make any changes. They can modify the notes and be part of the actual lecture. SMART boards create a new experience in the classroom where there as there can be a lot of learning games that students can be part of.

Another great advantage with a SMART board is the fact that you are the one that can control the applications through the use of the touch board; you do not have to sit behind a desk. With the Smartboard you can go up to the board and pull out the touch keyboard and work from there instead of sitting behind the computer. You are in front of the classroom and are able to interact with the students while simultaneously editing the information.

There are countless virtual tours that you can take your classroom on through the use of a SMART board. Several museums have virtual tours on the web. Instead of spending the money on a field trip you can take your students on a fieldtrip in your own classroom! If you are teaching the students about the planets, there are available websites that can take you on a virtual tour of the planets. It is a great way to get students engaged into the learning activities. SMART boards are very large in size and this helps to get the students attention and remain focused. The fact that they can go up to the board and are able to click on the buttons and interact really grabs the student's attention. If there is reading time, you can put the book on the SMART board and students can read along with.

Another great feature that the SMART board contains are the four colored markers. Every time you lift a pen out of the slots, it specifically selects the color that you have chosen. The fact that you can write on the board while you have a page up on the screen is extraordinary. If you are learning about planets and wish to write the name of one of their moons in the pictures you are showing, you can do that just by lifting the marker and writing on the board. Once you are done, you can save your work in a work file and convert the handwriting into text.

The eraser is another great feature the board has because with normal boards you have to erase everything by hand. With the SMART board, you can circle the area that you wish to erase and then just tap the middle of it and it’s gone! You can also highlight text on the SMART board, along with editing, sharing and emailing whatever you have written on your SMART board.


One of the biggest problems that can be experienced with the SMART board is that it can be very touchy. If someone walks by it and bumps into it, you would have to orient it once again. In an elementary classroom students are always moving around and bumping into the SMAT board can be a daily occurrence. Another disadvantage is that the lights create a shadow, making it difficult to read and view the board. It is also hard to see the images when you are in front of the board because of the shadows that it casts. This might create an uncomfortable experience for some students and might discourage them for participating in the future. Due to the fac that the SMART board is somewhat new to the classroom, there are not a lot of websites that you can really rely on. Also if a website is down, then it is necessary to find other sources.

You have to be somehow knowledgeable in technology because there are a wide variety of problems that can be encountered and if you do not know how to solve them or are not very technology savy, you can run into further problems. You would need to really prep for your lessons and try them out a couple of times before using them in the classroom just to ensure that you will not have future problems. If you are using a SMART board for the first time, writing on it can be very difficult. Due to the fact that the SMART board can be very touchy, it can be complicated to write large, lengthy paragraphs. It is very difficult to write neatly on a SMART board because you have to always write with the tip so that the writing is neat.

A big disadvantage is the cost of the SMART board. They can start at $3,079 and if your school does not have the proper funding, it can be difficult to acquire one. The bulbs for the projector can be expensive, costing around $300. You can buy a SMART board but you also need a projector to display the image and the cost of those run around $500 - $1000. That price includes software, connections cables, and a stand. Also if you do not have a good wireless connection that is something that you might need to add just to eliminate cables. As previously mentioned, the SMART board is very touchy and if you run into the projector it gets out of alignment. That is why you may want to have a wireless connection. Then, you would not need to worry about having too many cables running around in a classroom. Every time the smartboard is out of alignment, it is necessary to realign your hardware. ,,

Future Direction[edit | edit source]

As for the future direction of this amazing and innovative technology, we believe it has the ability to drastically enhance each and every classroom around the world. Not only can the SMART board serve as an essential tool for an educator, but for all the students involved also. Although these boards can cost a substantial amount of money, the rewards reaped by students and educators alike are invaluable.

First and foremost, the SMART board is excellent in the fact that it greatly increases student interaction. In the past, student interaction was often limited by the lack of technology and other resources. By allowing students to engage with this piece of technology now and in the future, they are likely to become more interested and engaged in the overall learning process. This in turn, increases the likelihood that the students will retain the information discussed. In general, when students enjoy the information being presented, they are able to create meaningful connections between the information and their own lives and previously learned knowledge. In return, they are able to retain the new information much more efficiently.

Next, the SMART board is important for the future in that it integrates technology in the classroom, which is essential in today’s world. Technology has the ability to change both the educator’s and the student’s views on education and transform the education system as a whole. By integrating this tool in the education system, an abundance of positive benefits are possible. Generally, students enjoy utilizing and learning about technology and the SMART board is no exception. By allowing them ample opportunities to interact with this piece of technology, they will start to become more well-rounded and knowledgeable individuals. The knowledge gained from the SMART board will carry into the student’s future lives and careers.

Third, the SMART board has invaluable advantages to future students with special needs. Often, students with special needs require additional assistance in the classroom and this board can be extremely rewarding for both the educators and the students involved. It provides great visual aids, auditory cues, and hands-on activities for these types of students. Due to the fact that every student has an individual learning style with personal needs, the SMART board can meet many of these needs efficiently and successfully. The benefits associated with this board and students with special needs range from improved social skills to enhanced physical skills. These aspects are extraordinarily advantageous because in the past, students will special needs were not always able to experience the same opportunities as other students. Now, they can be fully included in the regular education classroom and partake in similar, if not the same, activities. This is a huge step and bonus for the future of special education.

Last but not least, the SMART board will benefit the future of education in that it helps to provide more meaningful learning experiences. While in the past, educators could only use paper-based and other such basic materials, they are now able to utilize a computer to educate their students. The SMART board allows students to visually see what the educator is discussing, whether it be a chart, a picture, or a word document due to the fact that it is directly connected to a computer. A computer provides countless resources, such as the internet, power points, word documents, clip art, and more. It is more than beneficial for students to be able to directly view and access these materials because it enables them to learn on a much grander scale.

By integrating technology in the classroom, such as with a SMART board, the future of education has great possibilities. As previously stated, a SMART board increases student interaction, incorporates technology in the classroom setting, benefits students with special needs, and provides meaningful learning experiences for all students. These, among numerous others, are reasons why the incorporation of the SMART board is necessary for the future of our education system. Utilizing the SMART board will open the door to endless possibilities and hopefully lead to the incorporation of even more technology, which is beyond beneficial and worthwhile.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Overall, the SMART board is an excellent piece of technology for every classroom. The SMART website and software comes packed with course material. It is able to benefit all learning types; whether a student is more hands-on or visual, performs at a slower level or has special needs. There is no exclusion with the use of a SMART Board. Technology integrated into this interactive whiteboard helps students grasp the concept being taught because students are now, more than ever, visual learners. They require a certain amount of direct engagement during the lesson as well as watching the educator demonstrate a hands-on activity, rather than simply hearing that teacher lecture about the course material. With the SMART course material you can find a surplus of activities geared towards many subject areas including: Art, Language Arts, Reading, Geography, Science, Social Studies, Math, Healthy, Physical Education, History, Foreign Language, Music and more! Unique tools have made the SMART Board compatible when working with children whose first language is not English. In fact, specific software and downloadable templates have been posted to the SMART Tech website for ESL activities. In addition, students who require more teaching time and are special needs have a segment under Special Education. Creativity and critical thinking are also enhanced and continue to strengthen throughout each lesson utilizing the board. What makes working with the SMART Board exciting is the amount of interaction. Within this effective classroom tool are exciting colors and hands-on experiences for both the teacher and the students. Students feel like they have become part of the learning experience as well as the teaching experience when they are up at the SMART board. For students the SMART Board is an object perceived as fun!Though mastery of the SMART board may take practice and the cost may be pricey, it is an extraordinary investment that can help turn any classroom into a positive learning experience and environment. It is more than a piece of equipment; it is a serious educational enhancer and great investment for any classroom.

References[edit | edit source]