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I really do not believe that this was the best person they could find to sell such a brilliant product.

I finally got to use a Smart Board today.

For reasons that I truly do not understand, I have somehow made it through 4 years of full time teaching without ever getting my hands on a Smart Board.  I have made do with your usual Dumb Boards, both white and black, and with all of their flaws and issues, not even thinking that the technology could possibly live up to the hype.

But all it took was 15 minutes of goofing around with one of these things to realize that I have been missing out.  My teaching has been Palaeolithic up until this moment.  I might as well have been drawing diagrams with burnt sticks on rock walls.

Please see the following chart for further proof.

Do you remember that scene in The Matrix: Reloaded where the operators of Zion’s defence system were sitting in a white room, dragging images on invisible interfaces with the touch of a finger?  Of course you don’t, because that movie was ultimately very forgettable, and didn’t hold a candle to the first Matrix.

But if you were to go watch it again and look for that scene amidst the blundering dialogue and D-grade acting, you would see something like what I experienced today: a future of gigantic touch screens and intuitive programming and the ability to drag a picture of George W. Bush from the internet, drop it on the board in your classroom, and draw a moustache and glasses on him to make him look stupid.

Which I did.

And it was awesome.

Blackboard (Dumb) Whiteboard (Less Dumb) Smart Board (Smart)
· Writing utensils limited to white chalk and a series of pastel colours that are unreadable from further than 3 feet · Writing utensils limited to specially designed markers that are good for roughly 10 linear feet of writing, but only if they are capped properly before they are exposed to the air for more than 7 seconds · Writing magically appears from four colours of inert “space pencils” that have ergonomic ridges and never run out of ink
· Powdery residue from chalk gets on hands, face, pants, shirt, and the inside of your lungs · Markers smear off into a gray grime that coats your hands and face until you look like an Edwardian coal miner · Magical surface is grime and powder free, and smells vaguely of lilacs
· Washing the board requires erasing, ragging, re-ragging, spritzing, squeegeeing, and drying, and ultimately still ends up looking like crap · Washing requires the use of special board cleaning chemicals that leave you high but not euphoric, not even when you sniff them directly · Hit the “Clear” button for a pristine surface
· Once erased, material must be rewritten or lost forever · See Blackboard (left) · Undo button
· Save button
· Unless the user is an incredibly fast animator, videos must be shown by using a separate projector system and screen · White surface works a bit like a video screen, but reflects most of the image back at the students, temporarily blinding them · Open Window Media player
· Hit Play