Friday, February 18, 2011

Forget Smartboards

I came across a post by Jacob Gutnicki on Lisa Nielsen's The Innovative Educator, where she argues that interactive whiteboards, or Smartboards as they are more popularly known, are both a tool many educators love, and perhaps one of the most significant blocks to effective teaching in the modern classroom.

I couldn't agree more.

Technology is supposed to bring about the promise of the 1-to-1 classroom, where the focus is on the learning, and the teacher steps back from being the source and font of all knowledge to being but a lowly facilitator, a mere guide as students progress down the path of independent learning.

Currently, I work in a school equipped with Smartboards, and other than being a blank white screen for the projector, I find no use for them, whatsoever.

In my school, the students are all equipped with MacBook Pros, and a FAR better way to utilize technology in the classroom, I have found, is to prepare recordings of lessons before hand (allowing you to nicely edit and touch them up), then deliver those lessons, and the accompanying materials and follow-up tasks wirelessly when the class begins.*

In this way, the focus is never on the teacher at the front of the room, the students are engaged directly in the lesson, have immediate access to resources that assist them with questions and concerns (which facilitates independent learning), students of differing abilities can take the material at their own pace, the students get to literally, virtually "take" the teacher home with them for extra help and revision later on down the line, and the teacher is free to roam the room and facilitate learning.

It is the true student centered model of teaching.

*Mac is superb for this... I have not found a better way to transfer data in the classroom than through the Public Folder/Drop Box system on Macs.