Smart? Boards May 4, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
Later in the day, during Elliot Soloway’s visit to Tucson, I was part of a small team that visited our new charter school site. The college is setting up a charter school for grades 6 to 12 beginning with grade 6 and 7 then adding a grade a year. We are using an abandoned Learning Center on the south side of Tucson.
The building is undergoing repairs but the good news, as far as technology goes, is that there is a small computer center with plenty of drops for multiple computers. At this point, there are 15 Ethernet outlets in the wall and, with special switches, we could easily accommodate more connections without degrading the bandwidth usage too greatly.
Eliot suggested that the first year or so we should rely on a wired solution and eventually move to wireless. It makes sense to use the extant technology architecture, especially if they ever consider moving to other facilities closer to the university.
The concept of a handheld-centric school still holds a great deal of potential for teachers and students. The key element would be intensive training for teachers and all users of the technology. The goal would be to have a parallel set up so we could train teachers on the technology in a corner of my facility. One surprise I did not anticipate before my meetings with Dr. Soloway was his lack of interest in SmartBoards. These boards are like interactive whiteboards where you can display your computer screen on a board for students to see. Students also have the capacity for interacting with the screen for all to see.
I am tending to agree with Elliot and the Dean that teachers primarily use SmartBoard technology as a demonstration tool. The technology that engages students the most with the content and with each other is the technology we should focus on.
By the way, Elliot's talk to our Erasmus Circle was captured and we have made it available as a podcast at www.ed.arizona.edu/podcasts.