Technology is certainly all around us. And, that is definitely the case in the classroom as well.
Each year, we find new ways to incorporate technology into our lessons to benefit our students. Interactive whiteboards and SMARTboards are two tools you may be considering to help engage students in lessons, make learning more interactive, and help your students learn more in your classroom.
Often, the terms SMARTboard and interactive whiteboard are used interchangeably. But what is the difference between these two invaluable learning tools?
When I was first deciding whether to purchase a SMARTboard or an interactive whiteboard for my classroom, I know I was confused about how each tool was similar and different from one another.
I decided to put this article together to help you learn more about SMARTboards and interactive whiteboards. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a deeper understanding of:
- What SMARTboards are
- What interactive whiteboards are
- Interactive whiteboard vs SMARTboard similarities and differences
- Which technological tool is best for your students
What is a SMARTboard?
SMARTboards are a specific brand of interactive whiteboards. They were first invented in 1991 by David Martin and Nancy Knowlton’s SMART Technologies company. SMARTboards were designed to project an image from a computer screen while allowing individuals to interact with what was projected using the smart pen, their finger, or other solid objects.
The company’s goal in creating SMARTboards was to create an interactive tool to make learning more engaging for students. They are also designed to meet the needs of various learning styles that students may hold by enable teachers to utilize different strategies to reach their students.
Since SMARTboards made it possible for students to see large, full-color images, graphs, diagrams, and videos, their invention made it possible to truly bring learning to life for students and allowed students to collaborate with others to collaborate and address challenges.
Over the 30 years since SMARTboards were first introduced to classrooms, many enhancements and improvements have been made to the original design. The models currently available offer various features such as HyPr Touch with InGlass technology to allow up to 20 interactions with the board at the same time, the Tool Explore platform for the use of various stamps, pens, and other objects and the ability to annotate over applications, web browsers, or any other pages you’re sharing with your students.
You can even share lessons from the board to your student’s tablets, laptops, or other devices to enhance engagement and accessibility. Teachers can access their apps and documents stored on the cloud directly from the SMARTboard, making it easy to open everything you need for instruction.
SMARTboards also include a free content library, pre-made templates and organizer, special tools for different subjects (such as equation editors), and other features designed to simplify planning and delivery of lessons while also helping students learn more
SMARTboards come in a range of sizes to accommodate different classroom needs.
What is an Interactive Whiteboard?
As their name suggests, interactive whiteboards are designed to allow students and teachers interact with text, applications, annotation tools, and more on a whiteboard. Interactive whiteboard is more of a general term that may include SMARTboards, but also includes other brands and devices that allow this interactivity of students and teachers for instruction.
With an interactive whiteboard, you and your students can utilize the touchscreen functions to write text, model solving problems, highlight important information, and more. Interactive whiteboards also function as a large projector screen and make it possible to share large, full-color images and videos with students, which can help when illustrating a topic and allowing students to experience something up close.
Beyond the obvious interactivity benefit, interactive whiteboards have many advantages of traditional dry-erase boards. You can save each slide and the notes or annotations you record during instruction. This can make it easy to pick up instruction where you left off the following day or print out resources to help students.
Interactive whiteboards also don’t require the use of dry-erase markers. You can write using the special pen, which won’t dry up or need to be replaced frequently, as markers will.
Many models of interactive whiteboards are more reasonably-priced than SMARTboards.
Purchasing the IPEVO IW2 can enable you to turn any standard whiteboard or other flat surface into an interactive whiteboard. The IPEVO IW2 uses a special camera and wireless receive to communicate with the interactive pen.
Once everything is calibrated, using the interactive pen will allow you to make digital annotations over your projected documents and applications, just as you would be able to with an interactive whiteboard.
What are the Similarities of SMARTboards and Interactive Whiteboards?
As you’re comparing interactive whiteboard vs SMARTboard features to determine which option is best for your students, you’ll notice that both of these tools have some things in common.
Both SMARTboards and interactive whiteboards offer a break from the traditional chalkboards or dry-erase boards found in classrooms. While teachers can use them to display information or write notes for students to copy, one of the biggest advantages of both of these tools is that they are highly interactive.
Rather than simply looking at a screen, students and teachers can use the tools to make annotations, move objects around, play videos, and much more. This interactive component of both SMARTboards and interactive whiteboards allows them to bring learning to life for students and can help them make connections that will last a long time.
2. Internet Access
Since both SMARTboards and interactive whiteboards can connect with your classroom computer, you can access the internet through them. This means you and your students can view webpages together, watch online videos, engage in video chats and virtual interviews, and much more.
The large screen size allows you to share all these resources with students so everyone can see. This can be especially beneficial if you don’t have individual laptops or tablets for each student in your classroom.
What are the Differences of SMARTboards and Interactive Whiteboards?
While interactive whiteboards and SMARTboards share some similarities, there are also some key differences to keep in mind.
1. Resolution and Image Quality
The first difference is the image quality and resolution. This can vary from one product to the next, and even between different models from the same brand.
Before making a purchase, be sure to compare the resolution offered by each interactive whiteboard or SMARTboard you’re considering. This can help ensure that you’re happy with the product you select and that it will meet your needs and the viewing needs of your students.
2. Software Programs
Each interactive whiteboard or SMARTboard you look at may offer its own software program. There are pros and cons between different programs, such as SMARTboard software vs Promethean interactive software.
Learning more about each program, how user-friendly it is, and its capabilities may help you make the decision about whether a SMARTboard or interactive whiteboard is right for you.
3. Writing Tools
When you purchase a SMARTboard, you and your students can annotate on the board using the included pen, your finger, or even other objects in the classroom.
If you’re looking at purchasing an interactive whiteboard, you’ll want to look for information about how you and your students will be able to write on the board. Some interactive whiteboards will only respond when you use the special pen, while others may respond to finger or objects as well.
Next, consider whether you want multiple students to be able to write on the board at the same time. Some SMARTboard models are designed to allow up to 20 interactions at one time, meaning different students could be working side-by-side solving problems together on the board.
Many interactive whiteboards will only respond to one writing device at a time, which can limit collaboration and the ability to have multiple students working together at the board.
5. Available Training
Regardless of whether you purchase a SMARTboard or an interactive whiteboard, you’ll have a new program to learn. SMARTboards and some more popular interactive whiteboard software programs should have more available online training options than other less common programs.
If you think you’ll want the support of an experienced user, researching training options before making a final decision may be a good choice.
A final, yet important, difference between SMARTboards and interactive whiteboards is price. Since SMARTboards included additional features that aren’t offered by many other interactive whiteboards, they are often more expensive. Keeping your budget in mind and weighing it against the benefits of having each tool in your classroom can help you make the right choice.
What to Choose for Your Classroom and Why?
Just as the decision between tables vs laptops in the classroom and your school or classroom policy are based on the needs of your students, the decision between choosing a SMARTboard or interactive whiteboard will also vary according to the students in your classroom and how you plan to use the tool. You can learn more about tablets vs laptops for school here and school cell phone policies here.
As you’re deciding which tool is best for your classroom, think about how you see using it for instruction, the age of your students, your comfort level with new technology, and your budget. Reading through the two sections above outlining the similarities and differences between interactive whiteboards and SMARTboards can help you determine which of these tools will best meet your needs.
You may also want to consult with your administration or other teachers at your school. If multiple teachers at a school purchase the same interactive tool (or they are purchased by administration or the school district), it can aid in helping teachers understand the new technology.
Trainings can be set up to help teachers learn how to use the new SMARTboards or interactive whiteboards, and teachers can share tips with one another to make the use of technology in their classroom easier and more beneficial to students.
- 10 interactive whiteboard lessons for in the classroom using stickers
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- Ten must-know whiteboard games
- 5 smart ways to use SMART boards in the classroom
Both SMARTboards and interactive whiteboards enable teachers to use technology to help their students learn new things and engage with a lesson. These tools can make learning come to life for students and provide them with the ability to see and experience things that otherwise may not be possible in a classroom. Both SMARTboards and interactive whiteboards can be invaluable tools for learning. The decision between an interactive whiteboard vs SMARTboard for your classroom will depend on your budget, the subjects you teach, how you plan to use the technology, and, of course, the needs of your students.