While going through some of the articles in my Google Reader, I came across one by Michael Staton over at EdumorphologyWhy Smartboards are a Dumb Initiative. Now, if nothing else, the title caught my attention so, stealing a few moments away this afternoon, I read throught the article. And totally agree. The two main points of the article are:

1) Smartboards don’t change the model that’s broken. They just make that model way more expensive.
2) Smartboards are an administrative cop out. Administrators like Smartboards because when they spend money on technology they need to spend a lot of it and it needs to be on things they can point to and count

I agree on both accounts. 1st, we need to look at the whole schooling paradigm in a different way and no amount of “cool tools” is going to change this. Secondly, administrators need to have a better understanding of how the tools can enhance the learning and how, at times, they distract from the learning. If a Smartboard is being used by students for activities to help them deepen their understanding and explore, then we have it being used as a learning tool. If it’s being used to show notes or videos, for me, not so much.

As an administrator who continuously hears how we need to “demonstrate” how we’re using technology so “who’d like a Smartboard?”, it really frustrates me when I hear of workshops where teachers are shown how to “use the Smartboard” when, really, the teachers need to be putting the tools in the hands of the students and letting them do the learning and then demonstrating that learning. Teachers need to be making global connections, asking deep questions and having students seek out answers.

We don’t need more “tools” to deliver content to students in “cooler” ways. The students have the access and, given the right questions, will explore and dig and explore and dig. Watching a “cool video” might be okay the first few times but, really, after that, quit watching and let the students make the video, show it and explain it, put it out for feedback from others, seek insight from the feedback and discuss, with peers, the insights from the feedback. That’s using the tools!