Innovative ‘Smart’ Boards To Provide Unique Classroom Oportunities

The Math and Science Departments will be piloting the use of two new “Smart” Boards this year. The Smart Board, designed by Smart Technologies, is a touch-controlled interactive whiteboard that captures things written upon it with digital ink. Things captured on the whiteboard are then saved to a computer. One of the Smart Boards was installed in the Gelb computer lab over winter break. All teachers are able to sign up to use the room and pilot the new technology over the next few weeks. The other Smart Board is slated to go in one of the classrooms in Morse and should be installed by the end of the month. Several students are anticipating its return after it was removed last year after a one-month trial. “I had a Smart Board in my math class last year and it was helpful,” said Alison Kent ’08. “Our teacher was able to email the notes from class to us and show us other helpful visual calculus functions with the computer. They took it away though because it was for a trial period, and now I am in the same classroom and they’re putting it back, so that’s exciting.” Fernando Alonso, Instructor in Mathematics, was the teacher of the Math 575 class that tested the Smart Board last year. However, it was not his first time using one. He has used Smart Boards at two previous schools for a total of about seven years. “I started talking to people a couple of years ago, and the Technology Office has been very supportive, working with us [faculty] to try things out, so last year they got a sample [Smart Board],” Alonso said. A science division meeting will be held in the next few weeks so all the teachers can learn how to use it. “I think it’ll be a very interesting addition to the excellent audio-visual system we already have,” said Patricia Russell, Instructor in Biology. Class notes, like math solutions, can be easily distributed to each student via email, without the waste of making copies. Students and teachers will be able to play around with the Smart Boards, and the piloting period is an opportunity for the teachers to see if it might work well in class. “The science teachers will be testing it out over the rest of this year to see if it is something that we will want in more classrooms in the future,” said Russell. In the Math department, Alonso is looking forward to teaching with a Smart Board available. Especially for classes like calculus and statistics, the Smart Board is very handy in that teachers can demonstrate calculator instructions and graphs to the class on a virtual TI-83 at the board, he said. Student and teacher responses over the next year or two will determine whether or not the school will end up purchasing more Smart Boards.