Interactive whiteboards (SMARTboards) are becoming a common sight in teaching rooms across campus. This post will outline some of the features and potential uses of the boards and offer some starting points if you want to begin using a SMARTboard in your teaching.
There are two main ways of using the interactive whiteboard. Without any preparation it can be used as a ‘digital flipchart’ that will let you save and share what you write on the board in a session. This can be very useful to students, especially those with specific learning needs or for whom English is not their first language as it removes the need to copy down what is written on the board during the session and offers an opportunity for revision of the material later. The ability to create extra pages and extend the length of them makes the board very flexible in use.
You can also create slides in advance using the very flexible SMART Notebook software (we are using version 10.0 at the moment). Content can be easily modified or moved and you can attach and insert many types of files such as audio, documents, spreadsheets, images, web links or Youtube videos.
In the classroom, the labelling of slides makes it easy to keep track of where you are and to switch between slides and annotate them. There are some images and interactive elements included in the software and although most of these are at school level, some are quite handy – colleagues particularly like the stop-watch which will count down time while students work on a task and sound an alert when time is up. You can add your own content (images or slides) to the gallery so you can tailor the resources to your module and can even import an existing PowerPoint presentation, so switching to the interactive whiteboard need not mean starting from scratch.
During a seminar or tutorial the interactive whiteboard lets you manipulate text and images, moving, re-sizing or rotating material to create dynamic presentations. It is possible to open web pages, annotate them and then include them in the SMARTboard file and you can also import images captured from the Ladibug visualiser or freeze a Youtube video and annotate the frame.
How you use any of these functions will depend on your teaching context but here are a few examples: colleagues teaching textual analysis could display a piece of text then use coloured pens to highlight and annotate particular sections; Art history tutors might like to display images from web art collections and then draw on them in a way that is not possible using slides; geographers can mark up key features on maps.
Ideally though, interaction with the board would not be the sole preserve of the tutor and students would be encouraged to interact with the material. For example, in an essay planning session a group of students might write a list of points on the board then move them around to create a structured argument. The board could be used for matching activities, perhaps pairing causes and effects, or terms and their definitions. It could be useful to use the board for brainstorming and then move the captured ideas around to form clusters and demonstrate themes.
Whatever you do with the board in the classroom, at the end of the session you can export the file as a .pdf or PowerPoint file which can then be uploaded to Study Direct (SyD) so that students can review it and/or use it to create or supplement their own notes.
If you are interested in using a SMARTboard you will want to practise and/or have some training before you get started. The Teaching and Learning Development Unit (TLDU) run dedicated interactive whiteboard sessions, but you can also see the board demonstrated and give it a try at the hands-on technology drop-in. If you cannot get to a session there are additional resources on the handouts and tutorials web page.