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Chalkboards With Brains

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the i-hate-chalk dept.

Education 231

theodp writes "Third graders at Columbia University's elementary school may never know the sound of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. All across the country, dust-covered chalkboards are being ditched in favor of interactive whiteboards that allow students and teachers to share assignments, surf the web and edit video using their fingers as pens." From the article: "Bang uses the board to display a wide range of learning materials on her computer, from web pages to video clips. It is also used as a lunch-time reward for students: The children watched Black Beauty on the same screen that was used earlier for geography."

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Potential for abuse (2, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788331)

I wonder just what the modern equivalent of "Teacher sux!" would be?

Re:Potential for abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788341)

2nd post! :) I find this reaaaly nice.

Re:Potential for abuse (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788345)

how about a hack and some pr0n up on da screen... O_o

Re:Potential for abuse (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788470)

No Joke, My wife uses these at the local college. They are connected to the internet directly and guess what. They are constantly invaded by spyware and porn popups. I hope the kiddie versions of these are more robust.

Re:Potential for abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788623)

Well, maybe your school needs to switch to the version used in TFA, which are run on Macs!

Re:Potential for abuse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788441)

t34(uR 5u>0rZ!!!eleventyone

Or a striking rendition of the Goatse guy.

Re:Potential for abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788452)

i guess teh goatse will hit the classes soon...

first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788337)


Real value (4, Insightful)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788342)

These interactive whiteboards are not just "gee whiz" toys, but once you get used to them, are truly powerful.

For example, editing what you've written, brings a whole new aspect to writing on a board. Being able to "drag" a chunk of what you've written to make room for something you forgot or didn't have room for, is a life saver. Similarly, if you run low on room, you can scale everything you've written down a bit, and continue on without having to break up your work. Very powerful.

Similarly, being able to flip back and forth between "pages" of stuff that wouldn't fit on one board, or after you've moved on, and want to refer back, is very convenient.

Getting hard copies of everything on the board, another major value.

The previous generation with which I'm familiar, took a bit of practice to use, so some folks in our company didn't take to it; but I'm sure the technology (esp the software) has evolved, and kids pick things up more quickly than adults, anyway.

Re:Real value (4, Interesting)

ebuck (585470) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788443)

I've left my university years ago but have recently come in contact with a few people who are still in school.

One was very excited about all of the presentational gadgetry at her community college. Luckily she had some very good professors, but sometimes the gadgetry failed at inopportune times. Othertimes the gadegtry took over the presentation (think of slide shows / powerpoint presentations where you stop listening to the orator because the slides compete).

A month ago, she started taking classes at my alma mater. She was very happy to find that the professors didn't seem to be harder than those of her community college, but a bit worried that there was almost no special presentational hardware. For those who wonder, the material was primarialy displayed on an array of sliding chalkboards. Interestingly enough, her grasp of the material improved.

Now there's at least a million reasons why her understanding of the material may have nothing to do with the presentational medium; however, those who took (or were forced to take) a speech class can understand immediately why low tech often makes the best presentation: You don't compete against your material for the audience's attention.

With a chalkboard, there's not enough time to lay out every detail, so the presentation focuses on big ideas, drilling down into details where necessary, tied together with occasional diagrams. This puts the burdeon of explaining the material on the orator, who is likely well versed in the material. Basically you are getting the information from the expert.

With presentation mediums of higher fidelity, the medium presents so many details that the orator (if one is even present) a distraction. The downside is that you have to personally discover the pitfalls of what's not spelled out in the medium, and you fail to get feedback on ideas that you might believe plausible, but are poorly founded due to conditions outside of the scope of the studied material.

At one end of the spectrum you have professors, at the other you have books. I wouldn't want to read a text while someone was talking to me, nor would I want to listen to a professor while I am busy watching a movie / reading a book. High content presentational medium has its place, but without personal feedback, correction mental misperceptions cannot be made as they form which can be equally destructive to understanding. Oddly enough, the same high content presentation competes with the person most likely to be trying to teach us something.

Re:Real value (3, Interesting)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788529)

Requiring the speaker to push the material without leaning heavily on a Powerpoint presentation or similar also prevents one of the things I've been most frustrated with since starting at my current institution, the tendancy for a class traditionally presented in a large lecture to be broken into many small sections taught by professors not necessarily familiar with the material in order to 'reduce class size'. It's frustrating to have a professor who you know is really good at what they do trying to present someone else's Powerpoint slides on a completely different topic.

Re:Real value (2, Informative)

aslate (675607) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788467)

These interactive whiteboards are not just "gee whiz" toys, but once you get used to them, are truly powerful.

Our school got a grant of £30,000 to be spent on interactive whiteboards, at £3,000 each. Only 3 teachers ever use them, one uses it simply as a projector, one switches back to using it as a normal whiteboard frequently as it's easier and the other has lots of problems. He erases something, it pops back up when he starts writing again, undo then undoes the last minute of text and then he has to start again. He has used it for some useful purposes (Graphs from Autograph), but has a lot of problems.

Add to this the fact that it's one of the top schools it the country (About 5th in league tables), i can see a lot of wasted money on these things.

Detention (4, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788343)

It would make detention fun , you could write your 100 lines on the blackboard with a simple script then surf the net till the teacher returns

shudder (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788346)

... the sound of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.

Don't do that! You might as well have included hello.jpg in the story!

Now, think of your breathing.

Re:shudder (1)

kasmoie (788180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788530)

what is this hello.jpg that you speak of?

Re:shudder (0)

tomjen (839882) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788571)

this one []

Re:shudder (1)

tomjen (839882) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788580)


anti filter:
# Please try to keep posts on topic.
# Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
# Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
# Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
# Offtopi

This is pretty old (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788348)

When I was in eighth grade (I'm in 11th now0 we had two of these at the middle school. They were pretty much only used for the computer classes, and the teachers used them to show stuff to the entire class. Pretty neat stuff, really. Wish i had one. It's like a giant touch screen. Giant touch screen = shexy.

Re:This is pretty old (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788361)

I desperately want a touchscreen device, but I am torn.
I hate people touching my screen, and hate to do it myself.

I can try to enforce using a stylus at all times, but having the screen touchy would make their fingers gravitate to it.

Price? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788352)

Obviously if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

These things must cost $10k or so. Nice use of school funds. Meanwhile the students are using 10 year old computers and walking under leaky roofs.

Re:Price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788370)

These things must cost $10k or so. Nice use of school funds. Meanwhile the students are using 10 year old computers and walking under leaky roofs.

Because computers fast enough to let students have half a dozen windows of random shit unrelated to their work and the ability to walk between clases without getting a few drops of water on them far outweighs anything that might be used in an actual class with a teacher out the front where they might actually learn something.

Re:Price? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788475)


The four year old computers at my school BARELY have enough power for MS Publisher and one IE window for research... Specs are: Celery 1.1GHz Coppermine, 256MB PC133, 20GB DeskStar 60GXP (we've had two die already), WinXP Pro Corporate SP1 (illegal install, but a site license was then slapped on top of it), Office XP

The five year old computers can't really do that without thrashing swap (although, those are LOADED with spyware...) Specs: P3 866MHz, 128MB PC133, 20GB Seagate HDD, XP Pro, Office XP (software is same as the 4 year olds)

Then again, something's screwy, b/c I can run Publisher 2003 and Opera with a bunch of tabs open on my system, which is a 433MHz Celery, with 128MB of PC133 (running at 100, though, AFAICT), an 8.4GB Maxtor, and Win2K (I know, change the OS variable, everything changes...)

Re:Price? (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788565)

The 4 and 5 year old systems should be powerful enough to run Publisher + IE; one of the systems I used to admin was less powerful than that and was able to run Publisher, IE, Photoshop, and a bunch of other apps concurrently without any problems, though we were not using WinXP on that machine. That those systems are having trouble is probably more related to the software environment (the spyware, etc.) than the hardware one.

Re:Price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788586)

As someone who doesn't really know what he's talking about, I can say with some conviction that the first tool in a decent sysadmin's bag of tricks should be a disk image of the ideal installation for each hardware configuration under his juridiction and automated systems to reimage everything nightly. It solves the spyware problem beyond what foolish users can accumulate in a day.

Of course, 128 might still be too little to run bloated office suites in XP, the obvious solution to which is running something other than XP, probably 2K.

OTOH sometimes computers get old and unstable and probably should be replaced. Bit-rot or something they call it and it sounds fairly plausible to me.

Re:Price? (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788372)

These things must cost $10k or so. Nice use of school funds. Meanwhile the students are using 10 year old computers and walking under leaky roofs.

I think the more general problem is: 10 year old use computers, and everybody is really really desperate to get them to get them to use high-tech wizardry, when really what all that does is make kids multimediocre.

Primary school don't need computers to teach kid to read, write and do basic math. They need good well-paid students and good quality schoolbooks...

Re:Price? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788386)

They need good well-paid students and good quality schoolbooks...

well, paying the students WOULD be a great motivation to come to class everyday, but try getting that one through the schoolboard...

Re:Price? (2, Interesting)

pfafrich (647460) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788545)

well, paying the students WOULD be a great motivation to come to class everyday

Intrestingly in the UK they have started paying students. For 16-21 there is a thing called EMA which gives the students £30/week: provided they attend all their classes and behave themselves. It seems to be working as a motivational tool.

Re:Price? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788399)

They need good well-paid students

Oops I meant teachers of course :-)

Re:Price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788416)

What a truth that is! After all, with "good well-paid students", technology doesn't matter.

Just think what could be done with good, well paid INSTRUCTORS, and the whole system may surprise you!

Heck, if being a student paid well, we probably wouldn't be working in the jobs we currently have...of course, there's always the hassle when the school board outsources/offshores the student body in a cash saving effort...

Re:Price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788419)

I think they cost around $5K, all-inclusive. I'd wager that most schools that purchase these are not the same schools with ancient computers for the students. We had one at the high school where I taught, and although our school didn't have much money, the administration was (sometimes) relatively smart about technology spending. We had a pc lab in the library without 8 or 9 machines, each 1 Ghz or so. Meanwhile, 1st year teachers were getting paid only around $30K, which is a pittance in NYC.

Re:Price? -vs- value? (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788477)

I think they cost around $5K, all-inclusive. I'd wager that most schools that purchase these are not the same schools with ancient computers for the students. We had one at the high school where I taught, and although our school didn't have much money, the administration was (sometimes) relatively smart about technology spending.

Of course, the students who got to use the gee whiz high tech equipement were most likely the students who would learn using any method for learning from reading a text to listening to a lecture to self discovery. This isn't necessarly a bad thing, but I'm sure that the salesman who makes the presentation that will kill off the marching band makes sure he points out test scores and attentiveness of the students as justification for the capital costs associated with the displays.

I'd really like to see these priced at a level that would encorage installation in the bottom 1/3 of the classrooms as well as the top. Then, maybe they'll have something.

Re:Price? (2, Interesting)

SonicBurst (546373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788458)

Not only that, but whiteboards are worse on the eyes than chalkboards (As far as written text is concerned). I'm too lazy to google a support link, but I know the data for this is all over out there.

Re:Price? (1)

KE4SFQ (94275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788492)

We have about 10 of these in our district in Elementary and Secondary. The kids that are very intelligent are going to learn it whether on book, chalkboard, or interactive board. However, students with a learning disablity or just below level skills really have increased their scores and skills. They would tune out a teacher talking, but when she is splashing videos up, moving things around with just her hand, and having the students come up and work on it, they all are interested and learn.

Re:Price? (1)

Asprin (545477) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788518)

If I may interject a follow to your point; from the article:
"A student asked if a worm had a brain. So I was able to do a quick Google search that had a diagram of an earthworm," said Bang, who often uses the internet to teach her students.

But she said the real virtue of the interactive whiteboard is in showing students how to use the computer.
I think that about says it all. We now send out kids to school to "learn" how to use Google (as if they haven't already figgered that out on their own) with the implication being that search engines are the source of their education, so school isn't really necessary.

I'm still with Cliff Stoll on this. Tech in the classroom is, at best, a distraction. Learning is hard and often not much fun - it requires discipline and you just don't learn *that* when you are constantly distracted by flashy multimedia and powerpoint presentations.... and Google.

I have a secret hope that Google would realize this and start serving special pages that contain "Surgeon General warnings" about "the internet being harmful to your education" when requested from IP blocks allocated to schools.

Projector Bulb costs too. (1)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788595)

I should imagine the cost of the bulbs for the whiteboard projectors will run in to the hundreds of dollars too.

With bulb lives as low as 1400hrs, thats possibly not the greatest of economies.

Re:Price? (1)

KE4SFQ (94275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788482)

Much cheaper than that. We have serveral and they cost around $2k. You do of course need a projector and computer, both these most schools have.

Re:Price? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788578)

. . .the students are using 10 year old computers and walking under leaky roofs.

Hey, all the comforts of home.


now they've blown it... (1, Insightful)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788357)

"Bang uses the board to display a wide range of learning materials on her computer, from web pages to video clips. It is also used as a lunch-time reward for students: The children watched Black Beauty on the same screen that was used earlier for geography."

nothing like an unauthorised public performance to get the MPAA on your ass... perhaps they should have checked the little license that is shown when playing the dvd... the one which defines what constitutes home use...

Re:now they've blown it... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788377)

Black Beauty? I'm not familiar with that film (IANAAmerican). Do the MPAA control nigger porn as well?

Re:now they've blown it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788541)

How is my question "flamebait"? Do the MPAA control nigger porn or don't they?

Re:now they've blown it... (1)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788473)

Don't know about the US, but in the Uk educational use fo copyright material is protected by law.

Grandparent post probably correct (1)

Ada_Rules (260218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788521)

If they were playing excerpts of the movie because they were studying horses I think they would be covered.

But if the teacher just put the movie in to give the kids a break on a hot summers day and allow him/her to grade some papers without being bothered...I am pretty sure that would fall outside of fair use in the USA. []

Heard of educational use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788487)

There are many exceptions in US copyright law to allow copying or performance, if you will, of a work in educational situations.

One could argue whether or not Black Beauty is educational but it is probably not a violation of copyright to play it to a school class.

Re:Heard of educational use? (1)

lameland (23851) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788550)

The Copyright exception is for excerpts -- for critique and review only. If you show an entire movie, you would still be in violation, IF you show a movie you brought from home. All of the movies in a school library (not in a public library though) have been purchased under a public performance license, so they can be shown to as many people as you want. That license comes at a VERY steep price though -- a DVD of a disney movie, for example, would be $75-100.

Abuse of school property... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788362)

I hope that the school paid the public showing fees and license fees to disney and the mpaa for that viewing of "black beauty"

These are the cases we WANT the assholes at disney and the mpaa to persue. they need to slit their throats in the eye of the public.

has anyone turned them in yet?

Re:Abuse of school property... (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788393)

I hope that the school paid the public showing fees and license fees to disney and the mpaa for that viewing of "black beauty"

I for one sure hope they're showing kids the right Black Beauty, and not other kinds [] .

Poo-shaw (1)

Kujila (826706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788366)

Pfft my high school [] uses mimio boards and Palm handhelds, and an elementary school gets to be on Slashdot? =) Anyhoo, the mimio boards are really nice, it's a LOT easier to type notes from a nice powerpoint than from a teachers nasty hand writing. I don't see what the big deal is with this little elementary kids though, because my school's been "High tech" since Fall 2003 when it was constructed =P

Re:Poo-shaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788466)

Yeah, and my school has been "high-tech" for the last 5 years or so out of its 438 year history. That's what? Twice as old as your _country_? :-P

Re:Poo-shaw (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788489)

I disagree ;-)

I'm not bad at reading bad handwriting - after all, I can read my own ;-)

If I'm typing notes off of a PowerPoint, and the instructor doesn't follow the ppt, it can be ugly trying to keep up (especially when caffeine-based OCing screws up your aim for keys - I can do about 70wpm not on caffeine, probably 80 uncorrected wpm with it, but 50 corrected...) Handwriting, on the other hand, maxes out at 10-20wpm. If the instructor is writing, I can buzz along at 70wpm, and end up waiting on him/her to write more.

Bang? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788367)

Oh come on!

Interesting (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788368)

This is a rather interesting concept. I'm at university now and the professors have a bunch of seperate equipment in the lecture halls. There's usually an overhead (with horrible refresh rates I might add) connected to the projector. You can also connect your laptop to the projector. Of course you need the screen to be down for this, which always covers the black or white boards. Some of the larger lecture halls have side black or white boards which makes it a bit easier to work out problems on the side while having notes and references on the screen. I'm sure these new interactive boards could make the classroom more efficient if it's used properly. Heck, if they start to put these in my university they can just upload the notes scribbled on the board to the class webpage. Even more incentive for me to stay home and drink =P.

Its a sad day (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788371)

No more getting caught putting pieces of chalk into the slits of the erasers. Bummer. The oldest trick in the book is now gone.

Of course on the brighter side you do open up the opprortunity to hack the whiteboard and insert funny images onto the screen on the most opportune time. And then there's accidently surfing to by the teacher.

Re:Its a sad day (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788497)

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Millions in the Public Record database.
Find out anything about anyone.
The guy running it didn't want his kids to be made fun of, so he sold it off.

Re:Its a sad day (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788592)

Interesting, didn't know that site had changed hands. Thanks for the info.

Front projection? (1)

SpotBug (228742) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788374)

They look to be front projection screens. That seems like it would be really annoying to use, constantly avoiding your own shadow.

Re:Front projection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788400)

Not really a problem - it's really quite easy to avoid your shadow (and much better than the tought of carving out a massive hole in the wall to mount a rear projection screen - never mind the delicacy of such a screen)

Re:Front projection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788617)

The one in the picture is a front projection model from SmartTech. The High School that I work for has about a dozen of them, and I do find it annoying to have to avoid the shadow. It takes a bit of practice to get where you are not constantly in front of the projector casting a huge shadow. The larger teachers have more of a problem :)

No reward here (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788376)

"The children watched Black Beauty on the same screen that was used earlier for geography."

And that is supposed to be reward ? Poor Kids.

Now, I hate them (1)

PineGreen (446635) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788387)

I really, really like the old-school really black black-boards. When I was visiting princeton I really liked how the entire physics department is full of old blackboards in every office and on all corridors together with *do no clean* notes to inform cleaners not to clean a really cool equation you discussed with your colleague on the corridor.

I know is kind of wanky, but nothing can replace the coolness of real blackboards. I really hate that mu department has just these new white boards and that my office mate prevents me from buying one old-school blackboard for our office since he has allergy to the chalk dust...

Re:Now, I hate them (1)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788457)

This is essentially a large tablet PC. I wonder how much it costs. The manufacturers pages I checked did not include prize lists.

This might work for a small classroom. The pictures indicate however that these boards are too small to be useful in a larger class. I doubt one can read the small written text. The boards can not be made much larger because kids have write on them. This limits the distance to the screen.

I think there are cheaper alternatives: the projector attached to a computer can be used in conjecture with a the blackboard or an overhead projector. Watching movies is possible also of course with a usual projector. A student can use editing software also by working on the computer while the class watches.

Apropos blackboards: I still think they are still the best. There are just no reasonable alternatives. Having taught several semesters on white boards and also have a large one at home, they have many disadvantages over black boards:
  • pens run always out of color in the worst moment.
  • the dust from the dry erase marker is worse than the chalk dust
  • the white boards are usually too small, often much too small.
  • the average teacher handwriting is worse on white boards. Pens flow faster over the surface, people write faster and sloppier
  • People write too small.
  • if someone uses a permanent pen by mistake (this is relatively easy to mix up if an overhead projector is used in the same time), the board is damaged.

What can not be beaten is the "coolness factor". New technology can excite students for a while. But in general, this fades very fast. This technology certainly makes sense for expensive seminars, where customers want something for their buck. I doubt this will catch on for K-12 education, where money is tight.

Re:Now, I hate them (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788504)

I HATE them. Chalk on board is almost as bad as nails on board, to me, anyway.

Whiteboards are much better. And, chalk in the eraser is even worse - could really screw it up ;-)

Re:Now, I hate them (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788632)

. . . he has allergy to the chalk dust...

"Wet" liquid chalk markers.


What blackboards? (1)

SouperIan (831676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788397)

We never hear the sound of fingernails on a blackboard, anyway. Every school in the area has whiteboards (non-interactive ones, unfortunately) nowadays. The one interactive whiteboard I've seen in my school has never been used for anything.

Re:What blackboards? (1)

jimi the hippie (725322) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788418)

"non-interactive" whiteboards?

You mean you can't write on them

Chalkboards are about procedure,not content (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788410)

Chalkboards and whiteboards are just tools - this is sort of a computer touch screen which is big enough. The concept remains the same - write something down in big enough letters for everyone to read. Now the extra advantages of this is that you could just bring your chalkboard stuff saved and written from last year if you're a teacher. Which is a good thing if you're teaching Geography with lots of maps - but suppose you're learning algebra , this could be a bad thing . Procedure gets replaced with results when you use this thing.

Anyway, there was also discussions about electronic whiteboards in our office. But somebody said that writing it down on his notebook is all that keeps him awake. So when teaching a bunch of motivated, interested students , with a good teacher this might come in handy. But in general, this much technology is wasted on school children.

The most important duty of a teacher is to make sure the children learn, not to teach. This looks like it might help the teachers concentrate more on the latter.

Not new :) (2, Insightful)

MattWhitworth (858990) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788415)

We've had interactive whiteboards for several years in our school (in England), and it's not desperately new technology, although a special pen/stylus has to be used where we come from. I think it's fully justifiable spending that kind of money on new whiteboards because there's a wealth of information out of the Internet, and you would spend an unimaginable amount of money buying textbooks containing just some of the information. Of course, whiteboards aren't a replacement for the teacher, but I'm betting some think it is.

Windows indoctrination (0, Troll)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788422)

Look at the photo [] and guess what OS that smart whiteboard runs? that's right, no better way of creating brand loyalty than getting kids to see and use your brand all day long. Just ask Ray Crock...

This is another sad example of the school system, which should remain the last bastion of intellectual neutrality, being invaded by the corporate world. In this case, I believe quite involuntarily, the system's designers probably didn't even think of that, but still...

It Runs MacOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788446)


Re:Windows indoctrination (1)

vaseyandco (645760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788451)

SmartBoards can also run on Linux and Apple, its not the fault of the board manufactuer' it is the fault of the alternative OS's not being prevailent in schools.

Re:Windows indoctrination (1)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788502)

And I suppose running OSX or Linux would make the school a "bastion of intellectual neutrality" again? Either way, the "brand loyalty" argument holds true. The only way I could see around this problem, in fact, would be to have a custom OS designed by a third party. But that would be both needlessly expensive and time-consuming.

I mean, I hate MS as much as the next guy, but do you really need to use every opportunity to bash them, even if it's in a completely illogical way?

Re:Windows indoctrination (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788581)

It doesn't matter what is used, just that there is no visible branding, etc.

Re:Windows indoctrination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788540)

Umm... I see OS X running on those whiteboards so I don't know why you titled your post Windows indoctrination. Honestly, you could probably use any OS you'd want provided it has the proper drivers.

While you have a somewhat valid point, the "problem" already exists. Most schools these days either have computer labs or provide laptops. In most cases, the school board decides on a platform, usually Windows or Mac, and then purchases the computers based on that decision. These computers are used by children almost every day, so the corporate invasion has already taken place. Personally, I don't see it as an issue.

Re:Windows indoctrination (1)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788546)

It's running OS X, furthermore, I think you mean Ray Kroc

Dark class rooms? (1)

Bobvanvliet (569014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788439)

From the pictures it seems that the class room needs to be quite dark for the board to be legible. I can't help but wonder how this will affect the poor kids' eyes...

Old, old, old! (1)

BluhDeBluh (805090) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788442)

These things are ancient. They are just normal projectors with a pressure-sensitive screen and a bit of software to get them working together with a PC. They come with pens without nibs and a piece of software so you can "draw" on them.

My UK-type school thing has had these for 6 years and they are good for teaching stuff like ICT, but they're never going to replace good ol' white boards since they're not as nice to write on. They are, however, great for putting obscene stuff on the screen while the teacher isn't looking.

We've known them as "Smartboards" in my school... They also keep getting stolen (3-4 in the last few yers), as a projector is quite an expensive item and kids are quite handy at robbing places.

Did anybody misread it too? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788447)

Did anyone misread "using their fingers as pens" as "using their fingers as penis"? Or it's just me horny freak :-\?

Interactive Whiteboards (1)

taskforce (866056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788454)

have been very popular in Britain recently... They really don't perform very well on their own, because all they are are projectors with touch sensitive screens. It doesn't change the way teaching is carried out because the teacher is still turned away from the class to work on the board. (In fact, he/she has her back to the class for more time because more time is spent using the whiteboard)

A system which does work and has *gasp* -- found a use for tablet PCs -- is where the teacher has the TabletPC and walks around the classroom with it. The TabletPC is wirelessly linked to the projector, so the teacher can work as if he/she was at the whiteboard but on the tablet PC. This is great for explaining to students and actually offers an advantage over traditional whiteboard setup, rather than just being a "wow look at the pretty transition effects" toy. HWLC [] have been using this for a while.

Etch a sketch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788468)

Completely offtopic, but since Debian Sarge just got released the next testing will be named Etch (after etch a sketch from the toy story movie). How very convenient! So can you run debian on this thing..?

Cost (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788469)

From my own experience (student at secondary school in UK), the cost of these screens is not worth it (in my particular school),

They are underutilized; teachers don't know how to use them (one of my teachers spent half a lesson with an IT guy in the room trying to get it to work). These things have been placed in every classroom in my school, afaic they should be concentrating on paying teachers more and buying textbooks (some maths classes get photocopies every lesson - which ends up just as expensive in the end, just the money is coming from a different department!).

This "IT for schools" stuff is a load of **** imo, "going to the IT room" for many 12 year olds doesn't mean "yay, enhanced learning", it means "let's go on games sites whilst our teacher can't see what we are doing" (of course this is generally down to the teacher, but I am only speaking from my own experience). The real purpose seems to be keeping lazy IT support staff in the job (again I am only speaking for ONE SCHOOL)

The screens on a few occasions have been used by a few teachers to show websites etc, but I don't find it especially useful compared to them explaining properly how it works (perhaps this is just the way I learn).

There is no substitute for a proper teacher explaining something properly on a proper black board!

it's so dark... (1)

circusboy (580130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788478)

I thnk a real pity about this is that it seems to require the room to be so dark. can anyone think of a solution for this?

As someone who suffers fom poor eyesight, I hate to see people abuse their vision like this.

Re:it's so dark... (1)

Kent Recal (714863) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788543)

Great point!

I also wondered who the hell decided that the kids should be sitting in a dark room all day long. Money speaks I suppose. Who cares whether it hurts their eyesight and probably even their health (sunlight is good, remember?).

Re:it's so dark... (1)

circusboy (580130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788568)

Plus, gods know it depresses the hell out of me when I spend all day in a dark, windowless office, and walk out to go home and realize that I just missed a gorgeous day...

All the more incentive for me to join the idle rich!

Re:it's so dark... (1)

ex-geek (847495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788610)

Yeah and how are the kids supposed to take notes for themselves?

I hate it, when stupid PR pieces like these are forwarded with no critical comment whatsoever in the mainstream media.

old (2, Interesting)

zlyoga (834337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788480)

This is kinda old news. My school's been using these to teach geometry for a number of years. They're pretty neat. If you bump into them though it messes up the ability to write on it and it's a pain in the behind to recaliber.

Re:old (1)

KE4SFQ (94275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788501)

We have been using them too. And they are a pain having to recalibrate all of the time. We mounted ours to the wall and projectors to the ceiling and now no more calibration. Works much better!!

Purpose? (4, Insightful)

NilObject (522433) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788490)

So why should cash-strapped schools spend thousands (millions?) of dollars on yet another piece of only semi-useful technology instead of attracting more and better teachers, repairing or replacing crumbling buildings, or funding music and art education programs?

Mod me a troll or whatever - maybe I'm just bitter and cynical because schools flipped out over computers and the promise that because kids were now doing math facts on Asteroids they'd be doing university-level numerical analysis before they got their drivers license. For what? Nothing. Schools invested millions and now are trapped in contracts with Microsoft for millions so kids don't have to pick up a pen and pull out a sheet of paper.

Kids don't learn better when you put something on a screen that someone sold the school with inflated promises in order to make their monthly sales commission. They (we!) learn better when we have good teachers with adequate supplies of basic essentials like books and teaching materials and we have an open mind.

America (the rest of the world too?) has got to stop this culture of worshipping the kids and bending to their will because something is "hard" or "boring". Kids whine about something and the country spends millions to accommodate them. Math is hard? Good, tough up kid because the rest of the world is tough and isn't going to bend to your will. Stop buying thousand dollar machines to add flashy videos of cartoon characters doing the bumb and grind to the multiplication table.

I whined about math being hard and used the crutch of calculators until I did A.P. Calculus AB/BC without a calculator. The best thing that ever happened to me. Then I realized the importance of getting to the details and nitty little things of a subject like math. When you can push yourself through difficult things, you build your ability to do tough things in the future. It sounds strange, but because I labored through calculus without a calculator, I'm a better computer science major. See? Character building!

Recalling the best classes/teachers I've ever had in my 15 years of public school and college now, the one's I've walked away with the most from have been the ones where we stuck to the basics: calculus without calculators, marching band without PDAs strapped to our heads, literature without ebooks, science without lame and detached "learning" computer programs, etc etc etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology. I'm a computer science major and I still have lofty ambitions of improving the world through computer science. But a computer is a tool to learn information. It shouldn't be the information.

A $2,000 blender does not a better chef make. A $2,000 computer does not a better educated kid make.

(This was a rant that spiraled out of control quickly. I blame the caffeine...)

whiteboard (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788494)

So Blackboards are being replaced by smart whiteboards, where do the hispanicboards come in?

Australia beats you (1)

pr0jekt (870420) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788498)

Schools in the not so tech savvy public schools of South Australia have already had the experience of using a smart board for quite a while. :)

Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788500)

My school has had smartboards for a while. The problem is the teachers never really use them. If they are used they are used like a normal white board.

old news? (1)

Shinaku (757671) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788525)

Lots and lots of schools over here in Britain have them Interactive Whiteboards, almost every room in my highschool has one, of course they run windows and hardly ever do as they're suppost due to some virus or another.

I take issue with this. (1)

phuturephunk (617641) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788539)

I work for an educational institution and we just happen to have several of those SMART technologies boards. I've seen them in action and maintained them and it seems like it just degenerates into another tool that teachers can use to lecture, except now they can use Powerpoint in class.

The students, on the other hand, rarely seem to get any value out of it unless the teacher doing the teaching is really goood, which brings us back to the core principle: Good teachers can convey knowledge with very few whiz bang doohickies.

Black Beauty (1)

DavidBartlett (748559) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788544)

Black beauty is a reward???

Good for IT subject (1)

pfafrich (647460) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788576)

Ive seen and used these a fair bit. Often its best use is browsing website, theres some great material out there for education and the electronic whiteboard can really help. Great if you want to show a demo of some software, better than getting a class to huddle round a computer. Great for media related subjects, I've seen some very powerful videos on a whiteboard. For the most part a projector would do just fine. But on a couple of times I've made use of the interactive nature. The best fun has been a 3D program for displaying mathematical objects Singsurf [] . Here it really open up the idea of tactile computing. You can touch an object with you finger and drag it round, it almost feels like your holding the object. The students really responded well to this.

Whiteboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788585)

My old school would have projectors in every class projecting onto the whiteboard. Same thing just without the touch part and plus you can write on the whiteboard at the same time.

it' not the tool... (2, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788587)

...which makes a good teacher, it's the teacher's abilities. I've met very many bad teachers and lecturers in the past. The bad ones couldn't do good teaching no matter what technology you give them. The good ones would be good with or without those tools.

As others also said, kids [as we are talking about elementary schools here] can be very well taught without unnecesarry tech equipment. Why I say unnecessary ? Because if not used well [you know, tech for tech's sake] they can turn out to be more a distraction than a helping tool.

Also, making kids familiar with technology at an early age _can_ be good. But not when these are the _only_ tools they meet. I hope they can find the best balance somewhere in between.

Now - if schools could use these AND ... (0)

adzoox (615327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788596)

... a national ciriculum - things would be fair.

Schools having different grading systems, different books, different base ciriculum is unfair.

When I was in school - I live on the border of two districts - I could have gone to the school closest to the local University (wealthier, smarter kids) or the rural school (poorer, less intelligent kids)

The grading system at the rural school was 90-100 = A

The grading system at the wealthier/university town school was 94 -100

I ending with about a 92 average = I was a B+ student at the wealthier/university school - but I would have been an A student at the other school.

The wealthier/university school had all the technology - the poorer school had little if any computers (back in 79-92)

This technology if not granted or present to all schools only serves to further separate students by the example I have given here.

i have used this (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12788600)

The one i used required a projector. It would connect to the monitor port of the computer and the projector would conenct to it to.

When you write on the board it writes on the computer . IF you used the projector it would project the computer screen on the electronic white board and you could use the whiteboard as a giant touch screen.

It was pretty cool.

What OS is this thing running? (1)

ZakuSage (874456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788608)

From the looks of the images, there appears to be to panels: one at the top and one at the bottom. This makes me think it's either running Mac OS or Linux with GNOME. Anyone have the answer?

Too old to have seen such a thing (0, Flamebait)

thatgun (221980) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788609)

Do they run windows?

I wonder what a blue board of death looks like?

Hmm (0, Troll)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#12788611)

Thats really odd because when I was at school we used technology to watch pirate films, go to porn sites and play games. Ah good times.
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