Next week I will be presenting at a conference in River Falls, WI about using Activboards and the accompanying software, ActivInspire. Most of the educators I will presenting to over two different sessions are either first time users or are trying to increase their knowledge, familiarity, and ability with the board and software. My aim over these two workshops is to appeal to and aid two very different groups using the same tool. Something not always easily achieved.
Personally, I love using the Activboard and ActivInspire, and I say that with a complete realization that it makes me sound like a fanboy. I’ve run in to many teachers (both in and outside of my district) who either can’t see the point in using an Activ (or Smart) board, or have actually tried it themselves and have found it limiting in some way. I’m not trying to convert all of teacherdom into using a tool they don’t want to use, but I do think that it’s worth giving it a chance (resources permitted of course).
To the naysayers who don’t believe it’s a worthwhile tool, I would say:
“Activboards aren’t engaging.” Well, then you’re probably not creating a lesson that’s utilizing a tool that’s designed to be engaging. I “played” the French horn and tuba when I was in band in high school. I never really sounded very good because I didn’t take the time to know what I was doing. If you dint take the time to push the boundaries of what the board and the software can do, then you’ll always be playing second chair French horn (or third or fourth as was my case.)
“I don’t like to be tied to the board or a wall, I like to move, man.” Ok, so, move. Using the board doesn’t anchor you to a wall. Yes you need to be there occasionally to tap the board, but no ones stopping you from designing a lesson plan where your time spent at the board is minimal. Some of the most profound lessons I’ve done with my students is when I have a simple set of pictures and/or questions and I cab stand back and let the students absorb what’s on the board.
“I can do everything you’re doing with that expensive board by just using my laptop and the Internet.” Mmmm, doubt it. Certainly, there Are so many good, useful, and free utilities on the web that are useful, but very few of them allow you to I interact, change, and manipulate what you see as an Activboard does. And – and this is the biggy for me – the software allows me to create what I want to teach my students in a seamless and efficient way. I may be able to do the same thing using web resources (which I do use and love, by the way, in conjunction with my board) but I would have to use 6 different websites and wIt for those websites to load and pray our Internet connection is good that day.
“The equipment is so expensive, I can’t justify buying this for my class/school/district.” Well, it is kind expensive, sure. I guess that’s a monetary decision every district has to make for themselves. I won’t pretend to know how to best allocate a districts money, but I will say that there are far less credible and useful tools in education than an Activboard.
So, in summary, everyone should run out and buy an Activboard. No, just kidding, do what you want. But don’t knock it until you try it, and don’t bash it until you’ve actually had some real-time and experience using it.
You know what they say, don’t judge a French horn player by the chromatic scale they’re playing. Or something like that.