Electronic Whiteboards - SMART Boards

Not even the traditional whiteboard has been untouched by the ever-changing face of technological advancement. There is now an innovation called the SMART Board which is “a large physical display panel that can function as an ordinary whiteboard, a projector screen, an electronic copy board or as a computer projector screen on which the computer image can be controlled by touching or writing on the surface of the panel instead of using a mouse or keyboard,” (Tech Learn, nd).

This video clip highlights the advantages of using a SMART Board in the classroom.


The SMART Board interactive whiteboard was designed by Smart Technologies. It consists of a large touch controlled screen that is linked to a projector and computer. The computer’s desktop image is projected onto the interactive whiteboard, which acts as both a monitor and input device. The interactive whiteboard accepts touch from a finger or pen tool, and the SMART Board driver converts this contact into mouse clicks or digital ink. SMART Board interactive whiteboards are available as front-projection, rear-projection and flat-panel display models.

Brief History

1991 saw the face of whiteboards as we know it, changed forever as Smart introduced the first interactive whiteboard that enabled “touch control of computer applications and annotation over standard Microsoft Windows applications,” (Wikipedia, 2008).

Initially, few people were aware of this innovation and they struggled to see why anyone would want or need such a thing, so sales didn’t really take off at first. SMART endeavoured to promote as much awareness of the electronic whiteboard as possible and how it could have the potential to revolutionise the classroom or boardroom. During the early nineties, the electronic whiteboards faced several problems associated with primitive technologies; low speed modems, poor software and slow processors with little visual capability.

However, now with the more advanced technologies of today, the SMART Board has really come into its own and has proved it is one of the most exciting innovations ever to infiltrate the classroom. It is now expected that one in every seven classrooms across the globe will have access to an interactive whiteboard by 2011. The electronic whiteboard is now a billion dollar industry as more and more educators are realising what a valuable asset this is to any classroom.

Key features

There are a number of interactive and engaging features that electronic white boards, in particular the SMART Board Notebook software has to offer.
The main features that the SMART Board include:

Key Feature
Screen Shade
By dragging the screen shade over the notebook page you can cover or reveal different sections of information.
Create a table from the toolbar. Select the number of cells and drag and drop the table on the notebook page. Images, text and objects can be inserted into the table cells.
Screen Capture
Capture screens on your computer.
1st camera: Selecting a capture.
2nd camera: Section of shaded screen.
3rd camera: Full screen.
4th camera: Freehand area.
Selection of a pen from the tray or toolbar allows you to write on the screen. Turning touch into ink. A variety of colours can be used. A number of actions can be completed by selecting the word.
Special Pens
A variety of fun and coloured pen inks can be selected from this tool. Making writing more engaging for young students.
The eraser can be used like any standard white board eraser or with the circle and tap method. Only freehand writing or drawing can be erased, everything else must be deleted.
Magic Pen
Draw a circle to spotlight, a square to magnify or write notes that will disappear in 10seconds.
Shape Recognition
Draw a freehand shape and it converts it to a neat version.
Page Recorder
Record your actions on the notebook page. In the replay students can watch and listen to your voice.
On-Screen Keyboard
Type text, numbers and symbols that appear in a text box on your notebook page.
Allows you to spotlight a section on a page outside the notebook software.
Allows you to magnify a section on a page outside the notebook software.
Images, animations and lesson ideas ready for teachers to use to help enhance their lesson. Simply drag the selected items onto your notebook page. The gallery can be found on the side toolbar.

For a full range of features plus demo videos visit - http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/SMART+Board+software/Features.htm

Educational Value

This innovation is specifically suited for use in the classroom and therefore is has invaluable educational worth. This resource can be used to enhance most learning experiences as it heightens the student’s senses on a variety of levels at the same time. The Interactive Whiteboard exhibits its educational value, through its ability to encompass several of Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences.

Multiple Intelligences

Verbal/ Linguistic
The interactive whiteboard benefits verbal/ linguistic learners as it has audio features which allow sound to be played in conjunction with whatever is displayed on the screen. Videos can be played, sound can be recorded, instructions can be given aurally etc.

Logical/ Mathematical
The Maths learning area is not directly addressed by the interactive whiteboard itself, however this innovation enables the maths learning area to be addressed more effectively to cater to the logical mathematical learners.

Bodily Kinaesthetic
One of the main features of the Interactive Whiteboard is that it is touch screen which means that the students are getting physically involved with the learning. In this sense it appeals to the kinaesthetic learner because they actually get to manipulate the learning experience, making it that much more engaging.

Visual/ Spatial
Arguably the most distinctive feature of the Interactive Whiteboard is that it is a highly visual learning tool for the students. It displays lessons and information in a large, colourful and easily interchangeable way. With its many applications including resource gallery, screen capture, movie playback as well as its compatibility with other digital technologies.

The interactive whiteboard, often becomes a central part of the classroom. A place where the students and teacher meet to partake in a learning experience together. It becomes a focus point for topics of discussion and times of questioning. Therefore, the SMART Board facilitates interpersonal interaction between peers and the teacher, as they work collaboratively on tasks.

  • Worthwhile investment.
  • Engages students and is motivating.
  • Makes lessons more interactive and hands on.
  • For teachers who are ‘technically illiterate’ easy to navigate.
  • Broadens the use of e-learning.
  • Fosters collaborative learning.
  • Allows resources to be shared.
  • Information is at your fingertips.
  • Makes designing lessons easy and fun for you.
  • You can buy lots of ready made resources such as maths packs etc.
  • Expensive.
  • Not all schools have access to this type of resource.
  • Front-projection boards can be shadowed by user.
  • Only one person can manipulate the board at a time.
  • Fixed boards are often mounted too high or too low for use by all students.
  • Teachers may fall into the trap of over-reliance on the electronic whiteboards for all lesson activities.
  • May be a lot of time where people are just watching and not actually being involved in the learning experience.

Links to research

The key aims of this report are to extract some of the key findings relating to the use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms.

This report aims to inform senior decision makers about the potential capability of a range of products called interactive whiteboards.

Future learning

As SMART Boards are so popular and widely used a vast variety of learning material are available to help guide you through using this technology. Many of these resources are available online.

The first place to go if you want to learn anything about SMART Technology would be the SMART website. Here you can read about the history of SMART, watch demonstration videos explaining all of the features of a SMART Interactive Whiteboard and watch product tours. You can also download a 30-day trial of the latest SMART Notebook software onto your computer.

By clicking on the training tab on the SMART website this will direct you towards the training centre. Here you can download free materials that will give you a better understanding of your SMART Board. These materials include quick reference guides and tutorials.
SMART website: http://smarttech.com/

Other software downloads that can be used with the interactive whiteboard include:
  • YouTube – This link provides instructions on how to save a video from You Tube and how to play it back in your SMART Notebook software.
  • MediaCoder – This link provides instructions on using MediaCoder to convert any video format to a .flv file so it can be used in the SMART Notebook.
  • SMART Recorder – This link provides instructions on how to record your voice and everything you do on the SMART Board.

Types of Electronic Whiteboards

Of the technologies there are four main types of interactive whiteboard technologies currently on the market. The four main types traditionally fall into the following categories ranging considerably in price:

(Thinking Digitally, 2008)

For full details on the different whiteboards that fall into these categories

Future Teaching

SMART Boards and any other electronic whiteboard can be used in any learning area and across all year levels. The SMART education website provides support to help others incorporate this innovation into their classroom. It offers information on:
Classroom solutions
  • The advantages of SMART,
  • How to get SMART into your classroom
  • Product news and resources
Educator resources
  • Lesson activities
  • SMART accredited titles
  • Online classroom resources
  • Lesson resources
  • Teacher’s Hub
  • Programs for educators
  • SMART in the community
News and research
  • SMART’s commitment to education
  • Case studies
  • Research
  • SMART exchange
  • Videos
SMART Education website: http://education.smarttech.com/ste/en-us/

Other useful sites that include interactive whiteboard lessons suitable for primary year levels include:

Students with Special Needs

The interactive whiteboard caters more effectively with students with special needs. For example, the visually impaired student can be exposed to larger print and graphics. The hearing impaired student can adjust the volume. The student with physical impairment can drag and drop graphics and text. Instructions and processes can be recorded allowing students to view and listen as many times as required for understanding. The interactive whiteboard provides a multimedia multi-sensory capacity engaging students with special needs.


Center of Instructional Technology, Duke University Libraries. (2007). SMART Boards. Retrieved September 24, 2008, from http://cit.duke.edu/tools/classroom/smart_boards.html

Edna. (2008). Interactive Whiteboards. Retrieved October 4, 2008, from http://www.edna.edu.au/edna/go/schooled/school_theme_pages/pid/544

Futurelab. (2007). Interactive whiteboards in the classroom. Retrieved September 28, 2008, from http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/other/whiteboards_report.pdf

Interactivewhiteboard. (2008). MediaCoder. Retrieved October 6, 2008, from http://interactivewhiteboard.net.au/story.aspx?sc=53&id=1201&ch=3

Interactivewhiteboard. (2008). Notebook Lessons - Primary. Retrieved October 6, 2008, from http://interactivewhiteboard.net.au/lessons/primary.aspx

Interactivewhiteboard. (2008). SMART Recorder. Retrieved October 6, 2008, from http://interactivewhiteboard.net.au/story.aspx?sc=53&id=1016&ch=3

Interactivewhiteboard. (2008). YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2008, from http://interactivewhiteboard.net.au/story.aspx?sc=53&id=1202&ch=3

SMART. (2008). SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Retrieved October 2, 2008, from http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/SMART+Boards/

SMART. (2008). SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Canterbury:Canterbury Christ Church University.

SMART. (2008). SMART Education. Retrieved October 4, 2008, from http://education.smarttech.com/ste/en-us/

SMART. (2008). SMART Notebook software. Retrieved October 4, 2008, from http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/SMART+Board+software/Features.htm

TeachLearn (n.d.). Interactive Whiteboards in Education. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/Interactivewhiteboards.pdf

Thinking Digitally. (2008). Operating ICT. Retrieved October 5, 2008, from http://www.learningplace.com.au/deliver/content.asp?pid=38787

You Tube. (2008). Video case study: Jennings School District. Retrieved October 18, 2008, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvmr7kB5iPA

Wikipedia Foundation Inc. (2008). SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Retrieved August 8, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_Boards