Invite Interactivity without Casting Shadow Puppets

Remember slates? Or chalkboards? We don’t either. They’re tools of another education age. Soon there will come a time when students today say, “Remember those interactive projectors that cast shadows so we could make shadow puppets?” They certainly served a purpose – they spurred interaction and engagement.

That’s the point really of technology in classrooms. When students use devices that are natural to them, it invites interactivity, engages their imaginations, and motivates their participation and best of all, their learning. That’s where something like the interactive flat panel (IFP) comes in. The migration from older technologies to IFPs is part of an increasing, nationwide trend. In fact, in 2014, 17 percent of all interactive displays sold in the U.S. were interactive flat panels, and it has more than doubled to 44 percent in 2015.

At SMART, we were sure to get ahead of this curve. SMART introduced the interactive whiteboard to the world 25 years ago, and ever since, we’ve been building collaborative solutions specifically designed to meet the needs of teachers and students around the globe. In fact, this week, we announced three new IFPs to our SMART Board portfolio. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, we’re very flattered to see so many entrants to the market we defined. But it’s important to note that not all things are created equal.

The SMART team learned early on in the IFP development process that schools need something much more robust than the off-the-shelf consumer solutions out there. With our proud heritage in interactive solutions for the classroom, we needed to get it right. We took the best and brightest both within SMART and through teacher input, and we came up with a radically different design for education that would define the next generation.

As schools shift to IFPs, part of the upswing comes from the simplicity in the IFP design and thought around who they are designed for. “SMART’s interactive displays are unique as they have been specifically designed for education. Not only are they intuitive, offering walk-up-and-use capabilities. They are also resilient enough to withstand heavy daily use,” says SMART CEO Neil Gaydon.

“Our IFPs incorporate the world’s most popular education software – SMART Notebook which works at its best in our displays. This incredible combination delivers natural collaboration, helping students develop critical-thinking skills and making teachers’ jobs easier,” explains Gaydon. “Our displays are the best in the market, and the optimal learning tool for today’s schools and universities.”

That focus on the ideal learning tool is what’s driving the installation at Rome City Schools in Rome, Georgia. They’ve installed 200 SMART Board 6065 interactive flat panels. Next year, they’ll install another 200 as they continue the transition from legacy boards to brand new IFPs. When they’re done, every classroom, computer lab and media room in the district will be outfitted and rarin’ to go.

“The SMART solution offered the best value for the money because it’s so natural and intuitive to use through its quality design,” says Tim Fleming, Chief Technology and Information Officer, Rome City Schools. “When coupled with the latest version of SMART Notebook software, it was the obvious choice. In addition there is no need for projector maintenance and we can avoid instructional ‘down-time’ every time we would have to replace a bulb.”

The lack of maintenance was one of the features Mark Belue, Director of Technology, Northwest Arctic Borough School District in Kotzebue, Alaska, looked for, too. “SMART interactive flat panels provide that and give us a product with a longer life, while lowering maintenance costs and power consumption.” Plus, he says, “We want our staff and students to have engaging and interactive classrooms.”

That’s certainly what they’ll have now. By adopting the latest technology, both schools and districts have joined the ranks of organizations worldwide that are adopting IFPs. According to Futuresource Consulting, an independent research firm that tracks the interactive display industry, well over half of the interactive displays shipped globally in Q3 of calendar year 2015 were IFPs. Europe clearly leads this trend: in just the U.K. alone, 79 percent of interactive display purchases in Q3 2015 were IFPs. Futuresource is forecasting the U.S. will catch up by 2019 when nearly all the interactive displays sold in the country will be IFPs with a total value of $1.2 billion.

The beauty of slates, chalkboards and IPJs/IWBs was that they supported participation and learning in the classroom. But the beauty of IFPs, with their intuitive design and simplicity of use, inspires creativity, critical thinking, and active learning. With them in the classroom, students will light right up. Just watch the spark take flame. No overhead projector required.


*Futuresource Consulting – World Interactive Report – Q3 2015

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Kristel Gibson
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About Kristel Gibson

Kristel Gibson is the social media content manager. She’s been studying and responding to the social trends of the “intertubes” for the last eight years. She lives in Seattle with her family.

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