Not that long ago, teachers primarily used chalkboards to display important information. Even if you were a student in the recent years, you might remember your teacher writing an endless amount of notes for you to copy off of a dusty chalkboard, and then later be erasing it and be spreading the dust throughout the air. Chalkboards were fundamental to the classroom experience, but later classrooms transitioned to the less-sooty whiteboard. However, classrooms are continuing to advance in technology and are now finding new ways to integrate an even cleaner way of writing on a board. Many schools have adapted to using a SMART Board in their classroom — a new type of board that can be controlled remotely and is tech-savvy and interactive.
If you’ve never heard of a SMART Board, a SMART Board works similar to a chalkboard, but connects to a computer and can be used and controlled remotely among students and teachers. SMART Board utilizes a projector, typically attached to the ceiling, to project whatever the teacher wants his or her students to see. This might be a video, table, document, or any other computer file. This is similar to pull-down projector screens already existing in many classes for projecting videos or images. The SMART Board comes with built-in interactive software that allows the teacher to create interactive lessons. For example, a teacher could display a map on the SMART Board and then draw directly on the screen. Thus, the SMART Board integrates projector-like capabilities and whiteboard-like functionalities into one board that does it all.
The newest version of the SMART Board comes equipped with effective tools to help teachers with lessons. The tools include the SMART Notebook, SMART Lab, SMART Amp, and SMART Response. Tools such as the SMART lab allow teachers to create fun and engaging lessons focusing on particular subjects in less than five minutes. SMART Amp opens up the world of collaboration by allowing teachers to share ideas with other teachers who use SMART Boards. SMART Response provides teachers with hundreds of resources to use for formative assessments. These add-on softwares add more functionalities for using the SMART Board.
I’ve used a SMART Board in my classroom and it has proved to be a great experience! With the SMART Board, a group of second-grade students was able to deliver a presentation to a local zoo petitioning for a new animal. The presentation was not only adorable but also included effective visuals and sound effects. The students felt confident using the technology.
In addition, I’ve found that the SMART Board increases participation in the classroom. Using the SMART Board has allowed me to become more of a facilitator in the education of my students. My students are engaged in activities rather than watching me write or listening to me lecture. As an added benefit, the SMART Board is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. This means that if I have something awesome that I want to show on my Mac laptop, I don’t need to worry about transferring it to a Windows machine.
A similar product to the SMART Board is the Promethean board, which is another big name in the digital projector-whiteboard niche. The biggest difference between the two boards is that the SMART Board has more applications that are consolidated within the system. Here is an article comparing the two boards.
It’s expected that in the near future, over 85% of schools in the United States will have SMART Boards in all classrooms. Although a handful of schools have SMART Boards now, the technology is expensive and is generally not affordable for schools with lower budget and funding. It will be interesting to see future updates to the SMART Board and how the updates will affect the education system.