IoT in Education: The Smartboard

The evolution from chalkboards to whiteboards to projectors has a new dot on the timeline. Connected smartboards are another great tool to bring classroom education into the 21st century.

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A classroom using a smartboard to learn music
Illustration: © IoT For All

Think of the benefits this provides to students. For one, how many times did you forget to write down notes, assignments or exam dates that were written up on the board in the front of the class? I know it happened to me at least once per week. Now, all notes will be recorded and accessible by all students in the classroom. This can also lead to higher levels of collaboration amongst students, who can discuss Smartboard notes through the class’s online management system.

Welcome back to another article in IoT For All’s IoT Applications in Education series. In this article, we are going to dive deeper into a specific technology that is already being heavily adopted in classrooms throughout the world, the smartboard.

We briefly touched on the smartboard in a previous article, but to provide a basic definition, let’s do what all great students do and pull one from Wikipedia:

“An interactive whiteboard is a large interactive display in the form factor of a whiteboard. It can either be a standalone touchscreen computer used independently to perform tasks and operations, or a connectable apparatus used as a touchpad to control computers from a projector.”

Smartboards are an extremely important part of the smart classroom for a variety of reasons. In fact, I believe that they are the integral piece as they can act as a “hub” for all connected devices within a classroom.

Let’s imagine for a moment that we are in a music class. The teacher is giving a lesson on classical music composition writing and is showing the students how to construct a score on staff paper.

A smartboard allows the teacher and students to collaborate on the same “document” and share it with the entire class in real time. Additionally, the same smartboard can store the combined notes that were previously shared with the class for later use and for reference by individual students from the class. Using the aforementioned example of a music classroom, the teacher can help guide the class through an interactive exercise of writing a basic score, note-by-note. Let’s say a student is struggling with a specific note transition. The smartboard can empower the teacher to guide the student through the problem, but also to use the exercise as a teaching moment for the other students in the classroom as it is being shared in real-time.

What’s Preventing Smartboard Ubiquity?

There are a variety of resources, articles, and publications that are pushing for the adoption of connected technologies in schools, like this one from Entrepreneur Magazine. The author of this article shares multiple statistics which prove that smart classroom products are extremely effective, such as:

  • an adoption rate of 70 percent of smartboards and interactive whiteboards in the education sector in the past five years
  • 55 percent increase in student engagement in schools with smart technologies

So what’s holding back teachers and school districts from using smart technologies like smartboards in the classroom? One of the largest gating factors is cost.

A Cost-Effective Alternative

A simple Google Shopping search reveals that many interactive whiteboards retail for well over $2000, with the top of the line boards topping the $8000 mark.

As our publication is IoT for All, I have taken it upon myself to find a way to share how to integrate smartboard technology in classrooms at a much more stomachable price point.

The GoTouch Pen is a great alternative to smartboards; the product utilizes infrared light to accurately “write” on a whiteboard. The pen connects to a smartphone or computer via Bluetooth and unlocks the ability to “write” notes over anything that shows up on a screen.

This technology helps make presentations interactive and allows students and teachers to collaborate with other members of the classroom. There are other competing products on Amazon which we encourage teachers to check out.

Have you used smartboards in the class before? Have you tried any cheaper, smartboard alternatives? Let us know! We’d love to hear what you think and hope we have been able to provide value for teachers and schools looking to integrate IoT in the classroom.