This is one part of a 5 part assignment, highlighting contributions to an AQ course. The assignment asks the student to select 5 – 7 pieces of your work from this course that shows “You”.
The Question: Post your thoughts in a persuasive paragraph stating whether you feel that Smart Boards would be a useful teaching tool for your classroom.
The Answer: The SMARTboard is a dead technology. For years the myth that this teacher-centric tool will somehow convert our classrooms into 21st century learning spaces has been perpetuated on our schools, leading principals to mis-appropriate school funds to purchase the equivalent of a giant trackpad mounted on the wall. Seven years ago, before the advent of superior technology, I will acknowledge that the SMARTboard — populating a far less crowded edu-tech marketplace — found a willing buyer in schools looking to integrate technology into pedagogy. I don’t want you to take this diatribe as a judgement on the teachers who everyday find innovative uses of this technology; everyday teachers spin magic out of popsicle sticks and construction paper: we are an innovative breed, and consistently find ways to do more with less. I argue that the SMARTboard is that “less”.
The SMARTboard is a single touch device. It perpetuates a teacher-centric teaching practice. I will again acknowledge that teachers have found ways to make this a centre, to make it a space for students to collaborate, but in the present day, that collaboration can be had on far more dynamic devices, and in the past, 90% of that collaboration could still be achieved from a projector and laptop, or a bank of desktops. To continue to spend what amounts to about $3500 in each classroom for the requisite board, laptop, projector and installation is certainly not the way that I would want money spent within my classroom. A projector, and a device (laptop or tablet) that could be connected to that projector is worthwhile technology in the classroom, but I would spend the remaining $2500 on devices that could be more easily leveraged in the hands of students. If I was making the purchase today, this could be 7-8 iPad Minis that could put research resources from the internet, and an array of apps that would allow students to create multimedia artifacts to show their learning. I know that these devices are fairly new, but I believe they represent a quantum shift in ed-tech purchases, and in much the same way that we are watching Blackberry (who rested on their laurels far to long) attempt to re-invent themselves in a market that has moved on without them, SMART will need to create something far more innovative, at a price-point far more reasonable than a $5000 table (their latest product) in order for me to renew my faith in their inclusion in classrooms as we move forward.
The Motivation: I felt that the question in this section was rigged to promote a positive answer. The following question in the unit invited the students to explore different Smartboard activities that we might find useful in the classroom, presupposing that we had already decided that the Smartboard was a useful tool. I will certainly admit that there was an element of devil’s advocation in the writing of this post; but it does reflect my current thinking around Smartboards as a current technology. I am an advocate for the effective use of any tool provided in a classroom, and have certainly seen Smartboards used effectively in classrooms, but I think we need to question the continued purchase of these devices moving forward.