Equipping classrooms with up-to-date interactive technology is a great idea, most educators would agree. And if that technology is free, even better. But it’s what happens after the installation that determines if the technology will actually improve teaching and learning - as it’s intended to do.
An interactive technology grant made it possible for the Red Hill Elementary School (Honolulu, HI) to install interactive SMART Boards in all of the school’s general education classrooms during the 2008-2009 school year. Following the installations, Jensen Ball, Red Hill’s Technology Specialist, realized that a number of the boards were not being used to their full potential. Why? Many teachers had little or no prior experience using the SMART technology in their classrooms.
To provide guidance for the school’s teachers, Ball attended SMART Training courses, and began organizing school-wide instruction. The instruction helped teachers become more comfortable with the technology - but only to a point. While the large-group sessions provided the basic information needed to use the boards, many educators still needed individual attention to gain proficiency. And arranging training sessions that accommodated the schedules of 40 educators was difficult.
Ball looked for a way to supplement the face-to-face instruction he was providing in a personalized manner. He found it in Blossom Learning’s Online Applied SMART Board Course.
“The Blossom Course allows the teachers to go through their training on their own schedule, whether they have time before the school day or during their prep-time,” Ball explains. “Teachers can take the course while sitting with their SMART Boards, practicing as Mrs. Blossom explains the tools and functions, something they cannot do while sitting in the auditorium as I explain the technology.”
Courses were purchased for all of the Red Hill teachers in general education classrooms with the installed SMART Boards. The teachers enjoy the self-paced study the course allows; they can rewind segments that need to be repeated and complete the course chapters on their own timetable without worrying about holding up the progress of others taking the course.
Ball is pleased with the results of the course’s implementation at Red Hills and believes it has improved the meaningful use of SMART Board technology in the classroom.