Accelerate Learning

The easy-to-use SMART Table comes ready to plug in and start using. It is available for Mac and PC operating systems and can be connected to an existing network.

Students at Davie County Elementary School were excited about their experiences at the SMART Table. One said, “Everybody has to put enough fingers [on it], and then it adds up.” [Source: NEWS14.COM, North Carolina’s only statewide news channel, March 9, 2009]

Another liked the “Hot Spots” feature, where students identify part of a diagram by dragging labels to the right spot. She explained, “You get to learn where the spots on animals and people are, what the name of them [is].” [Source: NEWS14.COM, March 9, 2009]

Other tools for lesson integration include Multiple Choice, Addition, Paint, Media, and Puzzle.

Celia Kaplinsky, principal at Public School 216 in Brooklyn, is passionate about educating young children. Asked about the SMART Table, she says she’s amazed how it helps young students build self-confidence. The first graders “felt empowered,” she said, and their teacher values the opportunities for differentiated instruction that it offers.

Do more with less!

School districts are being squeezed on multiple fronts with soaring enrollments, shortages of qualified teachers, growing costs, and shrinking state education budgets. Yet they still must meet their students’ educational needs and teachers’ professional development requirements. SMART’s Bridgit distance learning software provides a quick, effective way for users to share real-time audio, video, and data over the internet.

Schools can leverage their existing investment in instructional technology and, with no software installation required to join a meeting, conference participants can easily collaborate without compromising educational outcomes. Students are highly engaged and motivated, because several can write on a shared screen simultaneously. Teachers can even deliver lessons to students in multiple locations while also teaching students live in a classroom.

Whether sharing within rural districts, among different cities, or in multiple countries around the world, teachers and students can “chat” individually or in groups, share desktop and webcam images, communicate via Voice over IP technology, and write notes in digital ink for everyone to see.

In rural Alberta, Canada, one school district is dealing with providing physics instruction to multiple schools with low student enrollment. A physics instructor teaches from one school and delivers the course to remote students using Bridgit software, in effect combining 30 classrooms into one virtual class.

Bruce Miller, technology integration coordinator for Wolf Creek Public Schools in Alberta says, “Bridgit software is a powerful, yet easy-to-use tool that improves the quality of synchronous instruction in our video conferencing course delivery.”

A geographically large district in northern Alberta uses Bridgit for meetings between administrators and technology directors, saving an estimated $240,000 a year by meeting and planning via distance learning. Additionally, this district reaps “substantial savings” by having its help-desk personnel use Bridgit to resolve technology issues. [Source: “Web-enabled distance learning: the solution to shrinking budgets and teacher shortages,” white paper by SMART Technologies, © 2008.]

Stepping up to the challenge

Educators are experiencing tremendous pressure to prepare students for the 21st century. Beyond the 3Rs, they are expected to integrate advanced skills such as problem solving, collaboration, and communication to prepare young people for global competition. Massive technology shifts throughout our culture have created digital natives who need a new way to learn. Teachers are both intrigued and challenged by incorporating technology into their classrooms.

SMART Technologies, the leader in interactive whiteboard technology, has stepped up to the challenge with its revolutionary SMART Classroom Suite. Students and teachers alike give praise to SMART for listening and then providing easy-to-use solutions to current pedagogical challenges.

Teachers give SMART high marks not only for the tools, but also for the support they provide. Admire credits SMART’s product managers with a “great job on tech support.” Using Bridgit conferencing, she is able to chat online to get answers to her questions, sometimes even during class.

But with all the solutions, there remains a problem—funding. Many teachers rave about technology in one breath but lament the lack of funds to buy it in the next. Creativity prevails as they share how they “make technology happen” in their schools and classrooms. Some work with the local community to raise funds—and the lucky ones find a philanthropist who supports their efforts. Some districts secure grant money or budget for the latest ed-tech tools for their teachers and students. Some teachers simply buy these tools themselves.

When the school day ends and the final bell rings, we know what must happen. Technology must make its way into the new educational paradigm if we are to experience success. To learn about all the resources SMART has to make that happen, go to

Sally Thiel is a freelance writer who writes about education and technology.

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