Are SMART Boards really that smart?
I would like to introduce you to the Juicero.
Wow, that seems awesome, I can’t wait to get this into my home so I can have juice anytime I want! It will be so simple and such a huge benefit!
We are always looking for new ways that tech can make our lives easier, and that search is also found in our education system. SMART Boards, the infamous interactive whiteboard setup that Alberta sought to put into every classroom, is what the majority of you reading this are familiar with. These boards allow teachers to incorporate multimedia and interactivity into their lesson plans. Many students and teachers feel that these boards allow for more vibrant and stimulating and interesting presentations and also appreciate the benefit of being able to see concepts in more dynamic ways (Slay et al., 2008). While there are many potential benefits to using interactive whiteboards (IWBs), there are numerous downsides too.
Now, we are going to take a look at how to use our Juicero.
Simple! Wait… Why do I have to connect my juicer to the internet? Why do I have to connect it to my phone? Why do I need to use a QR code? Why can’t I juice things other than these packets? I thought this was supposed to be simple? Why did I spend $700 on this?!
While there are many potential benefits to using interactive whiteboards (IWBs), there are also a few downsides. The incorporation of multimedia into lessons means more room for things to go wrong. Links might not load, programs might crash, the board might need to be reoriented (Remember pressing those 9 dots every 20 minutes?). And often teachers who don’t know how to use the technology then hinder teaching as they spend more time on dealing with the tech than dealing with the lesson. (Korkmaz and Cakil, 2013) Even worse is when something goes awry, if teachers don’t have the competence to fix an issue, then the lesson might be abandoned altogether.
The other issue is cost. Alberta spent 55.5 million dollars on putting a SMART board in every classroom (CBE, 2008). With 30,000 full-time teaching staff employed around the time the purchases were made that means that $1850 per teacher. But here’s the kicker, what are the most commonly cited benefits of IWBs? Multimedia, interactivity, attention. All of these are things we can get with a much cheaper projector and computer set up, without all the hassle and expense of purchasing tech that solves problems that aren’t present.
Wait, do I really need this machine to make juice?
This is the video that put Juicero out of business. Seems the company was missing the juice for the squeeze.
Our education system needs to stop being a naive consumer and start being a savvy investor. We should be smart with our money and invest it in the right areas. How about a field trip instead of a glorified projector screen? We should be focusing on enriching our students, not our lectures. We can’t keep spending our time and money on expensive solutions for fake problems. Stop focusing on enhancing the past, and start looking towards the future.
Calgary Board of Education, Innovative Classrooms Technology Funding http://projects.cbe.ab.ca/sss/skfehr/pdf/ab-ed-classroom-tech-info-package-may23-08.pdf
Korkmaz, O., & Cakil, I. (2013). Teachers’ Difficulties about Using Smart Boards. Procedia — Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83(Supplement C), 595–599. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.113
Slay, H., Siebörger, I., & Hodgkinson-Williams, C. (2008). Interactive whiteboards: Real beauty or just “lipstick”? Computers & Education, 51(3), 1321–1341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2007.12.006
Teacher Certification Statistics — Certification Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2017, from https://education.alberta.ca/teaching-in-alberta-what-you-need-to-know/teacher-certification-statistics/everyone/certification-statistics/