The SMARTBoard was an integral part of our opening day afternoon faculty session. Produced by SmartTech, this is an interactive white board that can be controlled by Mac, Windows or Linux operating systems. When it first came out, and even now, some people consider it a bit of a gimmick. However, I have heard from many more teachers that use of this technology has revolutionized how they teach.
Each school needs to determine, within its own personality, how to implement and improve the process of teaching and learning. Education should not be about the technology, but if technology is used in a creative and pedagogical manner then it can enhance and enliven the education process. Spiffy technology can often be a catalyst to change, providing that the person using such technology is open to changing some aspect of their methodology, and understands how to use it as a supporting player rather than the main event.
About two-thirds of the classrooms at my school have SMARTBoards, of which eighteen were installed this summer. The presentation I created for the faculty meeting was my second notebook endeavor, having created the first one a year ago for a middle school meeting. In both instances I found four benefits from using a SMARTBoard.SMART Board presentations are organized via a notebook file that can contain text, images, links and multimedia. Each file consists of pages that can be navigated consecutively or non-sequentially. Hence, the first two benefits are an organizational framework and an ability to navigate based upon need, interest and flow.
There are any number of ways to build interaction into a notebook file, and they all share in common that a person has to come to the board and touch it in order for something to happen. Yes, all the control could happen via a computer’s keyboard, but that defeats the purpose of having a SMART Board in the first place! The interaction can range from tapping the board, to pressing and dragging something, to holding a SMART pen and writing. The ideal notebook file contains interaction that enhances the content. This is the third benefit, and perhaps the most major, because a well defined notebook file permits the audience to engage and interact with the content in a way that they could not if the information was presented in a “flat” format.
And the fourth benefit is the novelty of it all. Novelty, if not overdone, provides a pathway to learning that aids with future recall. I have written extensively about this in my early posts about the Cerebellum, Amygdala, and Neurons. Here is what Marilee Sprenger has to say about novelty.
Emotional stimulus and novelty are the two biggest attention-getters. Novelty is appealing to the brain. …the reticular activating system filters information. When anything is perceived as unusual, it releases norepinephrine to wake up the brain. Once something has been repeated, the brain habituates to it, and the novelty is gone.