Hello, future. The smart board is surely a glimpse at what is in store for us in the next thirty years of teaching. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t catch on, but the fact that some people got this piece of machinery together means that we are moving in this direction. The mouse will be nearly obsolete in 10 years, I predict, because we will all be swiping and dragging our hands, wrists and toes all over our computer screens (if they are even still called computers). Yes, it won’t be long before we have more sophisticated systems in place in our schools than even Jean-Luc Picard (of Star Trek) could have imagined.
Of course, all burgeoning technologies have their drawbacks, challenges, and mistakes. I think it is a mistake, for example, to have a pen tray. I hope that feature is entirely removed soon. There are proprietary pieces to be lost, without which the board loses some functionality (the ability to select pen color at will) and potential for damage (what if the wrong marker makes it into the tray?). Also the fact that the board we saw in class today is dependent on a video projector makes it difficult to use with extreme accuracy, whereas a board which could be backlit would be much more efficient, self-contained and accurate.
It does seem to have great potential for lesson planning, digital object manipulation, and interactive computing, especially the software portion of the package. I can also see the advantage of having a document reader when using a smart board. Being able to draw on real paper documents with the smart board pen would be a useful way to highlight information in a handout, and as long as the classroom was set up to support multiple projection sources, it shouldn’t be a huge problem to do so. Much less time is spent on making transparencies, etc. You can also zoom with a document reader.
I was interested to learn more about how Smart boards are used in classrooms, so here is a video I found on YouTube.