Monday, July 27, 2015

Back to the Future Part III: SMARTBoards as a Past Catalyst for Future Technology Integration

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Continuing with the Back in Time and Back to the Future themed posts from last week about Instaframes/Overhead Projectors and two weeks ago about technology staff development 10 years ago, I figured a third part in the series is required, since, after all, there are three parts to the movie series, right? In Back to the Future Part III, Marty goes back in time to the late 1800's to try to alter some events in order to change the present time. Do you ever think about what you would change if you could go back in time?

Over the past twelve years that I've been working with the integration of technology in learning and teaching in Minnetonka, I'm sometimes asked, "What would you have done differently?" In my early career I would get asked about our choice of SMARTBoards. Today the question I get is about our choice of iPads. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but I wouldn't change either of these choices we made (even if Marty pulled up in the Delorean and gave me the chance).  

As I wrote a couple weeks ago, we started putting SMARTBoards in our classrooms in 2002 and during the following five years, we added an interactive whiteboard, projector, and sound field to all of our 600+ classrooms. This began the digitizing of our curriculum. Back in 2009, I wrote an article for ISTE describing SMARTBoards as a springboard for technology integration (pictured below). Our teachers wanted their content to be on their SMARTBoard, and wanted it to be more interactive. They worked hard making their lessons digital, moving from overheard transparencies at the time. So our teachers have been creating digital curriculum for a decade or more, and thinking about ways to make it interactive, not just present it on a screen. This has been a great foundation to build upon and really helped us get to where we are today. 

In the ISTE article I wrote that I noticed our teachers were integrating technology at higher levels than other educators whom I taught in grad programs employed in school districts without SMARTBoards. I noticed that having a SMARTBoard required teachers to digitize their content and lessons, and it was a great catalyst for further technology integration. The alternatives at the time- simply a projector or nothing at all- did not have the same effect.  

"In the long run, the up-front cost of an interactive whiteboard for each teacher is money well spent. It will accelerate the teacher's adoption of technology and result in higher, more innovative levels of technology use by teachers and their students.  Money spent on staff development often results in hit-or-miss implementation of technology that may be infrequently used. An interactive whiteboard used on a daily basis truly gives you a bigger bang for your buck."
SMARTBoards have proven to be a great decision which we made over a decade ago. I wouldn't change that choice, and don't feel the need to find Marty to go back in time to try to alter things. Last month I wrote about the iPad being a big bang for your buck. I believe that our decision to go with iPads vs. laptops will also be one that we are happy with a decade from now, too. It will be yet another technology integration springboard for our staff and students, with no regrets or desires to go back in time and change our past.

Learning & Leading with Technology, vol. 36, no. 6 © 2009, ISTE

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