Op/Ed 11/20/09

Are SMARTboards worth the trouble?

By Ashley Cabrera

SMARTBoards are the latest technological advancement on the LHS campus, but do they offer educational value or are they a distraction?
SMART Technologies is the innovative company behind the SMARTBoards. Founded by partners David Martin and Nancy Knowlton in 1987, the company strives to provide interactive tools for use in the classroom. The first SMARTBoard was introduced in 1991, but business started out slow due to the fact that the public had to be eased into using the product.
The slow adaption by the public to the SMARTBoards may be due to the rigorous training necessary for proper use. LHS staff held an all-day workshop over the past summer dedicated to learning how to maneuver through the program.
The SMARTBoard goal is to allow flexibility in the classroom. However, a few teachers have found that using the SMARTBoards has consumed a huge chunk of their time. In order for the SMARTBoard to become an interactive part of a teacher’s lesson, teachers must first prepare the material on the SMARTBoard which could take up to a couple hours.
Plus there are other drawbacks, including software problems and glitches for some teachers at LHS. These technical issues have occasionally postponed the use of some of the SMARTBoards.
Math and science teacher Caleb Dorsey said, “There are drawbacks such as software problems.”
“My biggest issue has been getting the sound to work,” added business teacher Cali Griffin.
Aside from any setback, the SMARTBoards do add a new level of interaction to the students. SMARTBoards allow visual stimulation to the classroom and may even help with focus. They are a huge step up from the old fashioned overhead projectors.
There is no doubt the students are more interested in the new technology. SMARTBoards open new doors to the possibilities of the way the classroom works. Teachers are able to not only give instruction to their students, but also offer a new hands-on method of learning. SMARTBoards have allowed more room for visual learners to strive in the classroom.
Art teacher Laura Calabrese said, “The SMARTBoards are fantastic. They offer opportunities that have never before been offered in class. The SMARTBoards are interactive potential,” she added, “especially in the art field.”
But how should the value of the SMARTBoards be evaluated? The classroom environment is a good window as to how the students progress through out the year, so will the progress of the students grades be the proof? Whichever way this new technology is evaluated, there is no question as to the growing importance of technology in school. With the use of iChat and the distance learning programs among the LHS teachers, it is obvious technology is here to stay.


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