Are SMART Boards Smart Purchases?

by Hap Aziz

In my last blog entry, I wrote about the use of smart devices in the teaching and learning environment, wondering in my public forum whether or not there is true educational value to the high-tech tools. In my ongoing reading on the subject, I came across this article by Stephanie McCrummen published in The Washington Post online about two years ago. While the article speaks directly to the Smart Technologies device (essentially, a “computerized” white board), the observations here can easily be extended to a variety of educational technology products.

McCrummen raises some troubling points, especially given the level of monetary investment involved by school districts. The evidence in support of the use of these devices is very thin, and (in my mind at least) does not justify the level of enthusiasm for integrating them into the classroom. I think this is a key takeaway from the article:

Chris Dede, an education professor at Harvard University, said whiteboards are popular precisely because companies designed them to suit the old instructional style with which teachers are most comfortable.

Rather than inventing new ways of teaching and learning experiences for students, we are developing technologies that replicate the ages-old classroom experience. Educators are not, for the most part, pushing the industry to innovate to keep up with new education techniques. It’s like a bad holiday–you see the shiny new present, but when you tear off all the fancy wrapping paper, it’s still the same old stale fruit cake from the year before.



Filed under education, education technology, Hap Aziz, smart technologies

3 responses to “Are SMART Boards Smart Purchases?

  1. This is an interesting point. I just came from a demo on classroom ‘clickers’ (vendor-name excluded). While there were one or two innovative applications for the technology, this technology mostly accommodates, even accelerates, a very traditional learning experience.

  2. What struck me is that usually the world of education is very data driven. Before making changes to methodology, there must be a wealth of information to prove there is benefit to the change. Yet, technological advancements such as this seem to just be accepted. I’d like to see a case study proving the merit of the smart board as academically beneficial.

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