As my fun treat for finishing term, I got to go back into school the next day and begin the great SMARTboard revolution. This involved going round to every Mac in the school and unplugging the USB cable (and in some cases, the USB-serial cable…these are seriously old boards), taking away the pens and completely uninstalling any SMART software on the computer (drivers, extras, Notebook software etc.). It felt good!
Reflecting on my passionate dislike for ‘smart’ boards (what an ironically misnamed product: I wonder how they’d take my preferred moniker of STUPIDboard?), I think it comes down to the fact that they’ve never really worked that well and have never really gotten any better:
- endless aligning to try and make the pens write as they should
- really quite horrible software for the Mac (although it has improved in recent years)
- glare and shadow from the projectors
- projectors! Projectors are great in a darkened room (e.g. a cinema), but not in a bright classroom. Plus the image quality degrades steadily but inevitably over time until you can barely see anything.
- trying to make a mouse and keyboard user interface work with touch. Apple have explicitly sworn off this idea (hence the iPad), but SMART seem to blithely carry on regardless. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve tried to tap on some element of the user interface, but then for it to not quite be aligned correctly and so I give up and use the mouse instead.
- really fragile board surface that results in areas of the board that just don’t work properly
- have I ever mentioned the cost? £2000 for a glorified trackpad is expensive in anyone’s book.
But I cannot sit back and bask in my delight for too long, as the challenge of communicating/demonstrating/inspiring teachers about how an iPad can be the smart man’s smart board still stands.