Replacing Smartboards With Smarter Boards

Margo Williams I sat down with Mr. Simon, Latin’s head of IT, to discuss the new boards that have been popping up in seemingly random Upper School classrooms. Over spring break, Latin installed 20 new boards in the Upper School, and they’ll be replacing the rest over the summer. Almost all of the boards in the Lower School have already been replaced, and the ones in the middle school will be switched out as soon as the Upper School is completed. Knowing that Latin has big things in the works for next year – with the construction of the Learning Commons taking place over the summer – I asked where the funding for the new Smartboards is coming from. Mr. Simon first kindly clarified that Latin isn’t purchasing new Smartboards, but rather Epson boards. As such, the IT department is encouraging students and faculty to call the new boards interactive whiteboards instead. Mr. Simon then explained that each piece of technology the school buys has an anticipated lifespan. When the IT department bought the now “old” Smartboards, they expected to have replaced them by three years ago. This project is essentially a matter of cashing in on the budget that has been sitting idle for three years. Mr. Simon articulated that the project has taken so long because the IT department has been working to ensure that we buy the best technology to meet student and teacher needs. The IT department has tested out many different types of interactive whiteboards, bringing some into the school for testing and getting suggestions from schools like Parker (*eye roll*).   I asked Mr. Simon, and Mr. Demopoulos who joined us later, about whether or not they have a plan for teaching teachers about the functions of the board. If you have any classes in a room with a new Epson board, you’ve probably seen your teacher get frustrated with it at least once. Mr. Demopoulos made clear that the IT department has already begun to make some videos that will help guide teachers through the various functions of the boards, so that teachers will be able to isolate what functions they want or need to learn. Hopefully this strategy will prevent new teachers at Latin from feeling overwhelmed by the intimidating contraption which occupies so much space in their classroom. Since these videos aren’t completed yet, however, Mr. Demopoulos also mentioned that he’s been meeting with lots of teachers one on one to explain various functions. Sometimes teachers will stop by the IT department with questions, and other times they’ll inquire in passing in the hall. Latin is constantly evolving in more ways than one. In recent years, we’ve acquired newer technology, each device more innovative than the last. These wireless interactive whiteboards may be daunting at first, but will soon become the norm in the Upper School.]]>