What is a smartboard?
A SMART Board is a an interactive device that connects with your computer and possibly a projector to display the content from your computer. If you use a projector, you can use a drawing device on the board that acts as a mouse.
They are extremely useful in a classroom because they can engage students, provide interactive opportunities that a traditional white board, black board or flip chart can’t, and can also develop students’ computer skills along with their English skills.
Smart boards also have touch screen technology so you do not actually need a computer to access the basic functionality.
What can you do with a smart board?
First, you can write on it.
You will need special pens, which are usually provided with the board.
Anything written on the board can then be saved for future reference, or printed out.
It is great, for example, if you are doing a brainstorming session or a mind map with your class and you want to keep a record of it.
If you don’t want to draw with the pens, you can use a keyboard and type onto a program such as Word, and have it appear on the screen for everyone to see.
You can also view saved documents of any kind.
This is great if you are doing an exercise with your class and you want everyone to be able to see the answers during the checking stage.
You can run PowerPoint presentations on an interactive white board.
These can sometimes be great for grammar or vocabulary presentations and the beauty of them is that once you’ve made the presentation you can save it and use it over again.
If you have internet access, you can access internet sites and put them onto a white board. This is great in an EFL classroom if you have online quizzes or games you want the students to use.
They can actually come up to the board and select their answers. This involves them directly in the board work, which they usually love. Teenagers, in particular, seem to love doing this.
With the right software, you can also create resources (or download them) such as gap fill exercises or multiple choice quizzes, where students can come to the board and drag and drop their chosen answers into the gaps.
Of course, with access to the internet, you can also run video clips or sound files from the internet, or some which are saved on your computer.
Finally, if your computer allows it, play DVDs onto a smart board.
How does a smart board help?
To start with, a smart board can make your lessons more varied, and can give students a more active role in the lesson.
They can also make some tasks easier for you, once you have created the resources.
They can, if used correctly, provide a greater range of resources to your students, and develop their computer and internet skills.
With the right additional equipment they also provide the opportunity to access the internet quickly. This is extremely useful for things such as online English dictionaries or image searches.