Are Activboards a Waste of Time?

What’s this?  A poll?  Well yes, it is in fact a poll.  See, recently I have done a few workshops where I trained other teachers on how to start using their Activboards with ActivInspire.  It went over well and the participants gained practical and exciting things they can use in their classrooms once the school year starts up again.  Although these teachers were generally optimistic about the potential an Activboard can have in their classroom, I have spoken with or read the thoughts of many educators who are unimpressed with Activboards.

So…..where do you fall?  Do you think Activboards are a good tool that can be used in the classroom or are they a waste of money and a fad?

After voting, please leave your comments below and discuss!



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.

Have students interact with something "simple"

“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.

Get Inspired One Step at a Time

If you’ll be in the Twin Cities area on December 12th, and you’re an educator, and you’re an Activboard user, and you like to do super sweet things with really radical people, then I hereby personally invite you to the TIES conference in downtown Minneapolis.

I will be presenting an Activboard and ActivInspire focused workshop Get Inspired One Step at a Time.  Here is the workshop summary:

ActivInspire works in tandem with Promethean Activboards. This workshop is designed to explore the features of the software that will promote a better use of digital learning tools in the instructional process. We will review basic functionality of Inspire and introduce new tools while providing time for customizing flip chart pages from existing templates. This workshop is perfect for teachers new to the Activboard or those who have been using it for a year or so who still feel a little intimidated the complexity of the tools. Get ready to have fun, be challenged and get Inspired.

Migrating to Inspire from Studio can be a tricky and sometimes frustrating experience.  If you love using the Activboard but want to get more out of it, than this is the workshop for you!

Hope to see you there.

If you are planning on being at TIES, but can’t attend my workshop, make sure we connect.  I’d love to hear what you’re up to in your classrooms or school!

Apocalypse Now

The worst thing in the entire history of the world has happened. Last night after having a delicious meal at True Thai in Minneapolis, I left the restaurant to find one of my rear passenger windows smashed into a billion little pieces of glittering auto glass strewn across my back seat and the adjacent curb. After pausing to digest what had happened (and my meal), I realized that for the first time in my life, my car had been broken into.

That in and of itself was bad, but worse than that? My school laptop was inside and it was stolen. Worse than that? It had nearly everything I’ve produced electronically over the last three years. And, if I do say so myself, some of my best work.

ActivInspire Flip charts
Any hand out or set of directions I’ve produced.
Class syllabus and grading policies.
Any video, audio, or photo clips I’ve gathered.
And the list goes on and on.

It’s not backed up anywhere. That’s my fault. I know I should have done it long ago, so please, spare me a lecture.
I don’t really care about the window, I have insurance. I’m really aggravated about the computer, but the school has insurance. The thing that I’ll never get back, is all the man hours I’ve put into creating some really great lesson plans (and some ones I hope the criminal chokes on) that may never be as good as they once were. The crime was against me, but more people are going to suffer because of it.

The terrible irony I give you permission to laugh at, at my expense of course:
The city of Minneapolis made me fill out my own police report…

If by some virtuous luck, Apple declares tomorrow that it has exploding batteries on all Macbooks circa 2008, a small measure of justice may yet be exacted. Revenge, after all, is a dish best served cold.

Broken back window
Must've used a screwdriver
Rear Seat
I'm not collecting shards of glass, so why did a criminal leave it here for me?