Tag Archives: iwb

Smart Notebook app now available

I am looking at my Gmail inbox and I see that Smart is announcing the release of their Notebook app for iPad. Before I read it, let me state that I know it’s going to offer integration of the iPad with the SmartBoard.

I know I’ll be able to control my Smart Board from my iPad with this app and a wifi connection, right? I can draw or write on the iPad as I move around the room and the image will appear on the Smart Board in real time. Right?

Now I’ll open the email.

Ad copy:

Students can actively engage in personalized learning by creating basic multimedia files and completing SMART Notebook lesson activities using a choice of tools on their iPads. They can also learn collaboratively by saving files to work on at different times or by sharing the iPad screen to the SMART Board interactive whiteboard for whole-class discussion.

As personal devices become increasingly integrated into the classroom, SMART Notebook for iPad provides a versatile and highly anticipated option for your schools and districts.

That bolded text seems to hint at what I’m after. The following is from an online review:

A great app that lives up to its purpose. While on the outside it appears to be just a drawing app with no SMART Board connectivity (which is not the intent of the application,) the application lives up to SMART Product’s reputation. The application is perfect for small group instruction, to where the need of an actually SMART Board is unnecessary, or carrying a laptop across the room to pair it with an Interwrite pad can be tedious (in my position as a technology head and reading interventionist, painful…)

Hmmm…now I’m less hopeful.

Bob Jackman has done a really nice video overview of the app’s capabilities. But my feature doesn’t get addressed in it. (And by the way, the amount behind-the-scenes monkeying it must take to get these features up and running is astonishing.)

Seriously, “Can I control Notebook with my iPad?” is a question that has been asked many, many times in Smart Board sessions I have done. Teachers want these things to integrate with each other. I’m not convinced that they do yet.

The app is really intended for students to interact with a Notebook file on their own iPads. It costs $6.99.




It’s not just me (Smart Boards)

I’ve been catching up on some podcast listening. Here’s Audrey Watters talking to Steve Hargadon on their weekly podcast back on January 29:

…I think there are lots of systems in play that don’t actually want…I mean the folks who sell you interactive whiteboards don’t really want the content to be accessible elsewhere because then why the hell would you buy an interactive whiteboard?

And here was me recently on the relationship between software and interactive whiteboard hardware:

…here’s something strange about Smart Boards. [The ability to capture student work is] not a feature of the board; it’s a feature of the software. But Smart fancies itself a hardware producer, so it hasn’t designed the software to do much of anything without the board.

If we were designing the ideal piece of software to do what you’re suggesting, I’m not at all convinced that it would require a Smart Board to run on, and I doubt that it would look very much like Smart Notebook at all.

I taught myself to use a Smart Board. I have presented professional development sessions around Smart Boards. I have used Smart Boards in my classes-including College Algebra and math content courses for future elementary teachers.

I’ll say it directly. An interactive whiteboard is a crummy tool, massively overpriced. The software has been designed to sell the hardware, rather than as an excellent interface that stands on its own.

In short, Smart Boards suck.

There is a small amount of meaningful additional functionality that an interactive whiteboard brings to the domain of classroom presentation media. In math, this has mostly to do with manipulating visual images-moving this rectangle onto that one to compare their areas and the like.

Here’s a crummy video of the one lesson I really do want a Smart Board for. It’s from Connected Mathematics: Bits and Pieces II.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/22362944]

Smart Boards excepted, right?

From EdTechResearcher by way of Audrey Watters at Hack Education:

In general, our findings cohere with 30 years of educational technology research. There are a handful of teachers who make remarkable use of new technologies, but for the most part, when teachers adopt new technologies, they use them to extend existing practices rather than to develop innovative practices.

As a dear colleague of mine once noted in a Smart Board session, “It’s just like the chalkboard; it’s the teacher’s worksheet.”

If I see one more f’ing Smart board disabling a chalkboard…

…I’m gonna ‘splode. Ladies and gentlemen, an interactive whiteboard is a supplemental technology, not a replacement technology.

From today's New York Times

From a post a year ago


Math 2.0: What I’ve learned so far

If you are reading this, the odds are very good that you have seen the Dan Meyer escalator video. If not, watch it before reading further.

I met Meyer recently and was quickly impressed by his work. I have spent the last couple of weeks digging deeper and thinking about what I and others can learn from it. Rather than presume to offer such sweeping assessments, I will offer some more modest observations by picking apart a single example from his catalog over the next few posts.


If you have ever been introduced to a new band and fallen in love with their music, then discovered that this is their fourth or fifth album, you know the delight I felt in getting started with Meyer’s blog. His TED talk was compelling. But he has years worth of this stuff in his back catalog and he’s producing more on a regular basis.

I was blown away by the escalator video. The novel use of multimedia, Meyer’s engaging presence, the mathematics suggested by the video, the delightful context and the detailed curriculum design; each contributes to a novel and impressive whole.

I’ll begin with technology.


Many, many dollars are being poured into technology in American K-12 classrooms. I question a lot of this spending.

I am particularly worried that we tend to be uncritical of classroom media. The TIMSS videos from the mid-1990’s provide a useful example. In a recent professional development session in which we watched excerpts of the American and Japanese geometry videos, a participant suggested that the chalkboard was being used as the teacher’s worksheet in the American classroom.

In The Teaching Gap, Stigler and Hiebert observed that overhead projectors were commonplace in American classrooms in the TIMSS video study and entirely absent from Japanese classrooms. They offered the justification that American teachers use classroom media to control student attention, while Japanese teachers use classroom media to record the flow of ideas over the course of a lesson. Overhead projectors are good for controlling student attention-they create a bright image that draws the eye. And they are poor at recording ideas over time-they have a limited display space and resolution so the teacher needs to frequently change slides. Therefore, American teachers find them to be useful tools, while Japanese teachers would find them completely impractical.

And consider the more modern example of a SmartBoard. My experience in classrooms is that these tend to be installed in such a way that they cover and therefore replace the pre-existing chalkboards-an uncritical replacement of the old technology (chalkboard or whiteboard) with the new.

Example of a Smart Board installed over existing whiteboard

A typical Smart Board installation; the white board is rendered useless.

What is more, SmartBoards tend not to be used to add substantially to the mathematics or the meaningful engagement in classrooms. In a typical video demonstration of Smart Boards in action, students tap the board to roll virtual dice and to write and keep track of the resulting sums. While the TIMSS video demonstrated the chalkboard as an American teacher’s worksheet, this video demonstrates the Smart Board as the class’s worksheet.

But it’s still a worksheet.

Meyer’s work breaks the mold. The escalator video is not at all interactive in the sense of the Smart Board. No way is Meyer inviting students to come to the front of the room to run his computer during this lesson.

Instead, he is using technology to issue a much more meaningful invitation to his students. He is inviting them to interact with mathematical ideas.

Everything about this video is inviting. Meyer’s intimate look into the camera at the beginning, the familiar world in which it is situated, the beautiful symmetry of the composed shot.

The standard American rhetoric on uses of technology in education revolves around having students operate the technology-bringing them to the Smart Board, having them design and deliver PowerPoint presentations, getting them to use graphing calculators to make graphs, etc.

Meyer thinks differently about educational technology. He wants to use multimedia to break down barriers between students and word problems. He wants technology to bring students’ lived experiences to bear on their mathematical inquiry. And he’s damn good at it.