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New Technology

June 24, 2012

SMART Classroom Suite logo with screen shots

I’ve been fortunate enough to gain valuable classroom experience as a substitute at Findlay, Fostoria, and Bowling Green City Schools. One piece of technology that has stood out to me in at all of these schools is the SMART interactive white board system. The first time I saw this technology was as a student at OSU Marion in 2009, however I never saw any of my professors use it. When I began substituting, everyone was using it.  Being fairly comfortable around technology, I was able to pick up the basics and make it through class. I knew, though, that the SMART board could do a lot more than I understood.

After researching its capabilities, I am blown away at the amount of things that you can do with this technology. It makes it possible for teachers to have a fully technological classroom. Probably the most basic, yet useful, thing that is does is to work as a projector for the teacher’s computer. It can be used to show videos, documents, presentations, or demonstrations. It gets much more advanced than that, though. The white board is controlled by touch. It includes four different colored pens and an eraser that are all touch and light sensitive. The board uses a light sensor to detect which of the tools is being used. For example, if you pick up the red pen and move it across the screen, a red line will appear. Replace the pen, pick up the eraser and trace the same line and it disappears. This was one feature that took some getting used to. You can only use one tool at a time, two in some of the more advanced models. If you pick up more than one, it will only sense the first that you picked up.

I included a picture of the logo for SMART Classroom Suite, and a link to the specs page, because this software is what makes this an even more amazing machine.  One of my favorite features is the ability to project from the teacher’s computer to the students. This, again, is a great way to do demonstrations. In computer lab classrooms, it eliminates student distractions created by the computer. Another feature that aids classroom management is the ability to lock the students’ screens completely. The suite includes teacher tools with lesson and assessment creators, as well as progress tracking. The lesson that are created are interactive and everything is controlled by the touch screen or the teacher’s computer. This makes the lessons much more interesting for the students. It’s something that they will want to use too, so it generates more participation. It makes it possible for teachers to store all of their resources and classroom data in one spot. Taking full advantage of all the benefits of this program would allow me to seamlessly move through lessons and assessments, saving valuable instruction time. I would also be able to evaluate student performance, and my own performance, all from my computer.

From my point of view as a substitute, this system made it easier for me to follow exactly what the teacher would have done in my place. Everything was in one place, and it was as easy as it could possibly be to move from one thing to the next. This is something that I would want in my classroom. In the event that I’m unable to be in class, my substitute can easily navigate through my lesson plans and procedures. Not only does it prevent students from missing the lesson, it reduces behavior problems. Students are used to the routine that is created by using the SMART board daily.

Although this is a technology that many teachers already seem comfortable with, it is one that is new to me. I’m excited to learn more about it and to find an opportunity to use it for my own purposes. This is a system that I can definitely see myself using everyday in my classroom. I think that it is the type of program that works best when you take full advantage of all the feature it has to offer, which I full intend to do.

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