Friday, November 12, 2010

Pros and Cons of Smartboards

While doing research on smart boards, I found that there are many pros and cons about this technology.

Pros

•    With the SMART Board, you can control any application through the touch board. So instead of working from behind the computer keyboard, you (or your students) can be at the front of the classroom physically interacting with the display.
•    You can use any of the 4 colors of markers or the eraser to write in digital ink over applications, web pages, or moving video. The SMART board still works if you lose the pens. (There are 4 colored pen holders and one eraser. When you lift the pen out of the slot, it selects the color or the eraser. When you touch the screen, it uses the selected color or the eraser.)
•    Like other digital ink software applications, you can save your work into a notebook file, and you can convert handwriting into text.
•    Allows the teacher to touch and interact
•    You can upload these files to the internet or other databases used for student resources or professional development opportunities
•    The students are able to use the board as well. This gives them the opportunity to want to participate in classroom discussions and lessons.
•    Some boards are mobile allowing the teacher to put it away or off to the side when necessary and bring it out when ready to use.

Cons

•    Hard to write. The biggest disappointment with the digital ink comes from the fact that a SMART Board is a front-mounted projection screen. This means that your data projector is set up in front of the screen (like an overhead projector). Sure, it was cool to interact with programs by touching the screen, but it was hard to write notes because you were constantly blocking the image.
•    Hard to write neatly. To be perfectly honest, it was a little disappointing how our handwriting turned out on the SMART Board. Better than our experiences with the other digital pens, but the handwriting was still large, blocky, and messy. One of the things you have to train yourself to do is to not lean up against the SMART Board. When you write on a blackboard or white board, you typically rest the edge of your palm on the board. If you do that on a touch screen, the cursor jumps to your palm and it doesn't work out. You have to train yourself to just write using the tip of the pen. The marker worked fine if we wanted to underline or circle key ideas, but if you wanted to edit or revise a 12 point, double-spaced Word Document, you'd have a hard time getting the control required.
•    You still have to move back and forth from the keyboard to the screen. We could start up our web browser by touching the SMART board, but when it came time to enter in the website address, we had to go back to the desk to type in the URL.
•    Need to supply own data projector. A decent one can cost anywhere from 500- 1,000 dollars
•    • May want to upgrade wireless internet connection.
•    • Like any type of technology, there are "quirks" that can come up.
•    • Because it is hard to write neatly, the board can in turn cost more time for the teacher as he or she may have to re-write or re-type several times.
•    • Takes up extra time and money for staff at each school. Training sessions cost time and money for everyone involved.

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