Most of my professors teach their classes one of two ways. The first is more traditional. They’ll drone on and on about the topic of that class and occasionally write important information on the board. The second way a professor lectures is through a prepared PowerPoint presentation. Make no mistake, in this second option, the professor still drones, but looking at pictures on a screen arguably keeps a student’s attention better than just plain talking. In my Oceanography class, my professor chooses the second option. She doesn’t project her PowerPoint’s onto a projection screen; she uses one of the three white boards available to her.
This white board isn’t just your average board either…it’s “SMART,” but you wouldn’t know it.
This isn’t because the SMART board is so old that it’s unusable. This isn’t because our university doesn’t provide the necessary resources to use the board, either. It’s because my professor chooses not to use it. Most classrooms have the SMART boards available to them, but in my almost two full years of being at this university, I have yet to see one used outside of being a projection screen. Even in high school, some of our classrooms had SMART boards. Still didn’t see them being used there. I don’t know what it is. Teachers and professors always complain about not being able to keep students interested.
Here’s a start:
Show how you can move the screen around with your fingers. Teenagers and young adults are fascinated by technology. You could own a phone for one or two years and eventually you may grow tired of it, but as soon as a new updated phone is released, you have to get it! If the rest of my class is like me, we would fall in love with the SMART board if teachers used it. The fact that my professor could switch slides just by touching the board would keep me enthralled throughout an entire class period.
This all goes back to my last blog post. It seems the only reason my professor isn’t using the SMART board in her room is because she doesn’t want to take the time to learn how to use it. “More than 1.6 million SMART Board interactive whiteboards are used by over 40 million people in classrooms and offices around the world.” It’s just another example of why our university needs to step up their game when it comes to technology. Just the other day, the very same professor asked if anybody wanted to come draw their diagrams up on the board. Nobody volunteered.
Had we drawn them on the SMART board, we could have interacted with them, we could have saved them and posted them on Blackboard for future reference, we could have done so many things. Because we didn’t use the board, I’ll probably forget the diagram that we drew in just about a week. I could flip through pages of notes, but it would be far easier to just go to Blackboard, click the diagram link, and all of our drawings would be there.
This isn’t even the biggest problem that I have with the lack of SMART board usage. The company has this great free website called SMART Exchange. “SMART Exchange is a one-stop destination designed to provide teachers with access to all of SMART’s learning resources and the opportunity to connect with colleagues in a professional community.” That’s right, this website allows professors and teachers to download pre-made interactive lessons. This is more focused on grades K-12, but still could potentially be used in introductory courses.
If my Professor would have used SMART Board!!!
In Oceanography, you can’t get very far into your studies without learning the basics. I did a quick search on this website and there were plenty of interactive presentations on things that we learned just two classes ago. She probably spent a massive amount of time making her slide shows and finding animations, when she could have just downloaded free presentations in 5 minutes that also included interactive activities and simulations that students could run through during class. The line of best fit “Smart Notebook Lesson” would have done the trick nicely as she ran through the introductory statistics we needed to understand this week’s lessons. I’ve embedded a preview from the SMART Exchange so you can get an idea of just how easy this could be and just how frustrating it is to plod along with the same tired lectures that could be so much more interesting with a few clicks of the mouse and a few touches of the finger.
I hope one day my professors will get SMART.