I’m not a fan of Smartboards, I never was. Shocking I know. I have actually had people turn their nose up at me when I say that. They insist it’s because I didn’t know how to use it properly, which may or may not have been true. But if you know anything about me you know I’m a pretty big nerd, so I sure as heck tried.
About five years ago we had a Smartboard in a closet at school so I asked if I could have it. I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like that it was whole class oriented, it didn’t fit in my learning environment, and I hated that you always had to dodge your shadow. It didn’t help me accomplish my educational goals or my technology integration goals. It didn’t fit in with my current pedagogy and views on teaching practices.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think it’s useful for other people. In different settings, with different students, and a different class I see the potential for what a useful tool it could be. I’ve seen teachers do brilliant things with Smartboards. But it wasn’t the tool for me. When a collegue from another school said that parents had bought one for every classroom I said, “That’s great, what are you going to do with them?” She didn’t know because there wasn’t any training to go with them.
Months later when I returned the Smart Board to the technology coordinator I explained all of this and that what I really wanted was a rear projection screen with more functionality, or maybe desktops or laptops with touch screens instead, and wouldn’t it be great if they could be smaller so they were portable. That’s right I basically invented the iPad.
Ok, well that’s not entirely true. But when someone else did, it fit my specifications, and the more research and development I do, the more I know that this is a tool that will work for me. I fully appreciate that there are others who might disagree. That’s a good thing.
You see, if you try something and work at it and realize “hey this isn’t the right tech tool for me” that means you are evaluating those tools to ensure that they support and enrich your educational goals. Isn’t that what technology is for. It’s not like technology makes us better teachers. In fact, without knowledge of good teaching practices technology is pretty much a mute point.
I’m not super jazzed about having iPads next year because they are the new trend or I can plunk kids down with math Apps all day. I’m excited because in my mind’s eye this is the tool I’ve been waiting for. It’s like when I exchanged my overhead projector for a document camera. The possibilities and ease opened the world to me.
But that’s just me. To each his own.