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College CIO Predicts Tablets Will Kill Smart Boards 150

CowboyRobot writes "Keith Fowlkes (vice chancellor for information technology and CIO at the University of Virginia's College at Wise) has a commentary at Information Week in which he makes the point that moving forward, colleges will be able to dump all the 'smart' classroom tools and devices (e.g. electronic whiteboards, clickers, projection systems, etc.) and will only need to support students' tablets. The reasoning comes down to the return on investment, which is easy to argue for tablets but not for other classroom technologies. Standardization of video across devices remains a problem, as does the issue of where files are stored and how they are shared. But these are solvable problems and we will soon see the day when electronic whiteboards are a distant memory." I think the issue of file storage was solved by openafs a long time ago, certainly at the scale of a small university.
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College CIO Predicts Tablets Will Kill Smart Boards

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  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:45AM (#42544869)

    Let's put aside the fact that a LOT of professors don't like the idea of students even bringing smartphones into class, much less tablets and notebooks. Let's put aside the fact this guy sounds like someone whining about his budget, who has possibly been approached by a slick salesman who's sold him on the idea of some app that's just going to require a "small investment." Let's put aside the fact the professors are still, by and large, a bunch of old farts--many of whom are still using the same blackboard presentations and transparencies that they were using 30 years ago.

    To me, the most obvious counter to this assertion is the notebook. Students have had notebooks en masse for 10-15 years now, and THOSE didn't really revolutionize the classroom. And if notebooks, which are way more powerful and open than tablets, didn't really change things all that much--then what makes him think that tablets will?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:55AM (#42544963)

      Tablets won't for the same reason laptops didn't. People will show up with any number of different make/model of tables with different versions of different operating systems on them with different capabilities and different versions of different applications then fold in that the user's will have varying levels of skill is the use of these devices...

      You'd end up with the instructor (usually not all that technically savvy) using up the class time trying to get their presentation/software/whatever to work on everybody's device rather than actually teaching anything.

      Between the above reasons and arcane licensing restrictions on a number of specialized software titles we still maintain actual computer labs, you know, rooms full of PCs, something we were told would go away more than ten years ago.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:01AM (#42545013)

        No matter make nor model nor OS, there is already a nice presentation system that works with all of them. You are using a version of it now. Making a simple website that replaces power point should be something any professor can handle.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:23AM (#42545257)

          You think designing a presentation in HTML is easier than Powerpoint?!? Hell, my dog could probably put together a Powerpoint presentation. With HTML, even something as simple as getting a graphic to go exactly where you want it can be a pain in the ass.

          I know the MS hatred here is strong, but don't kid yourself. Powerpoint is #1 for a reason. And one of those reasons is that it's braindead simple and easy to use (and I've known even CS profs who need braindead simple)

          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:33AM (#42545371)

            A good presentation sure is. 99% of Powerpoint is bad presentations though.

            Being worried about the exact spot a graphic is in makes me think you want to create bad presentations.

            Powerpoint is #1 because it lets you turn 5 minutes of information into an hour long lecture with useless graphics and animations.

            • Being worried about the exact spot a graphic is in means you give two shits about how your presentation looks. It's a presentation, so like, visuals are sort of key. Who can stand to look at a PRESENTATION that has graphics all offset by a couple of pixels and nasty borders showing through. I suppose if you have no fucking clue of how to visually convey an idea then having your graphics appear differently depending upon the browser you're running won't make you neurotic with rage. PowerPoint isn't exactly e
              • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:49AM (#42546437)

                Being worried about the exact spot a graphic is in means you give two shits about how your presentation looks. It's a presentation, so like, visuals are sort of key.

                You've already failed.

                Powerpoint presentations are almost universally bad because people spend more time making the presentation than they do making the content they are going to speak about, and you're just type type of person confirming that fact.

                The visuals of a presentation either need to present and image/animation/movie of something that can't be described by the speaker accurately enough, or simply a rehash of the major bullet points of the presentation itself.

                The powerpoint IS NOT THE PRESENTATION, it is a SECONDARY AID to help with the speaker's description.

                Unless the aspect ratio is WAY off, it is irrelevant. HTML is PERFECTLY acceptable for presentations if they are done properly.

                The issue you have with HTML versus powerpoint means you're doing it wrong in the first place, not that HTML is the issue.

                • "The issue you have with HTML versus powerpoint means you're doing it wrong in the first place, not that HTML is the issue."

                  I take exception to this, you see I believe in making something clean, simple and *precise*. If I have an image being rendered somewhere, I want it to render there and ONLY there, and I want it to be precisely positioned.

                  Perhaps you don't care about the layout of your work, but I do. And just because I do, doesn't mean that I spend more time on the look of a presentation than on
                  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

                    Stop putting images in presentations. 99% of the time you don't need them.

                    • Sure you do, it's another way of conveying information. For instance, how many people would rather see a map as plain text vs an image of the map itself? What about a graph plotting statistics that show progression? Maybe you want to show a screenshot or photograph of something significant, again text won't do. There are plenty of frivolous things that images aren't required for, like clipart to "pretty" (ha) up a presentation, but the reverse is also true.
                    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

                      Stop putting images in presentations. 99% of the time you don't need them.

                      If you don't need images you don't need a presentation, speech alone will do fine. Presentations are for things easier to explain with pictures than with words.

                    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

                      99% of meetings I go to could easily be replaced with just an email chain. Would be faster and more productive too.

                  • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
                    Wow, how dumb are you? If you are that insanely neurotic, you do know you can export powerpoint to html? Or to pdf? Or just leave all your work in powerpoint and use a webviewer so everybody see's your neurotic powerpoint with your bullet points aligned to your desired pixel.
                    • What relevance does exporting from PowerPoint to html have with what I have said? The argument is producing your presentation in html vs producing it in PowerPoint. If you exported your slides to html you would satisfy neither my argument that PowerPoint is a more efficient and exact method of creating presentations, nor the GP's argument that you ought to build your slides in html and avoid design atrocities committed by typical PowerPoint presentations.
                    • Have you seen the kind of HTML that MS products produce? *shudder*
                    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
                      Um, maybe you should read all the way to the grandparent post?
                    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
                      Thankfully, i escaped windows for good 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I see the horrible html that almost any app produces. One of the main reasons I'm working on an information browser that get's rid of all the superfluous crap on the web.

                      Frankly, i would just code a few hundred lines of Lisp to convert my notes to SVG 'slides'. ...unless of course after all these years there still aren't decent SVG viewers on windows and mac. Anyways, extremely trivial problem for anybody not used to tripping over their

                    • The first part there chimes with my point - exporting your slides from PowerPoint to html would give you the worst of both worlds. I once tried exporting some notes to html and PowerPoint made a complete mess of them and didn't even use the entirety of the horizontal screen space. The notes didn't even require images, it was just some text. Ouch.
                    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
                      I think a large part of the problem is people using proprietary tools and expecting to have universal results.

                      Education is a prime target for FLOSS as a unifying factor ...if the FLOSS people had any motivation towards a standard :) Sure, Apple and Microsoft might come out with one competing implementation each for money and market share. The FLOSS crowd will come out with 100 different implementations just for shit and giggles :)

                • Indeed, unprepared speakers use presentation programs as a crutch. They just read what's on the screen. Ever watched a Steve Jobs keynote? What a difference! Almost no text, simple images to illustrate and emphasize the points, very subtle transitions, and a guy who knew what the fuck he was talking about.

                • Sadly, people want to keep those powerpoint slides as references for use later on. Then I get bothered because some info was left off of the slides and I'm asked to update them. So essentially what are supposed to be just aids during a presentation get turned into official documentation, and over time people now expect this.

          • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
            You can design all you want in powerpoint, you don't have to translate powerpoint slides to display them on websites. Insightful fail.
          • And you can't easily view powerpoint if you don't have Office installed and aren't on Windows. With HTML you don't need to keep things perfect (don't let artistes design the page), just list the facts and formulas.

        • by jythie ( 914043 )
          Util you make a website that for some odd reason does not render in certain browser/OS combinations. Or some of the students are having connectivity issues.. or there is some wifi interference... or some students are having problems with their personal machines.

          Personal machines have always been problematic when required for class time.
        • okay using just html diagram a 3 stage amplifier at the component level (with voltage/current values).

        • You don't work in higher education, do you?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:14AM (#42545145)

        All this ignores the obvious: from a human factors perspective, one large surface with professor walking around and touching it seems to work best.

        For another example of this *style* of interaction but with everyone participating from a screen, see weather forecasting. The meteorologist is blue screened in so he can gesture and such.

        So long as there are physically students in the same room as the teacher, there will be a large shared screen that actually has stuff on it. For remote only, in theory the professor could be blue-screened onto the materials, but given the more interactive nature of education, it's probably that a professor would still have a big screen simply to make modifying the contents less awkward.

      • by jythie ( 914043 )
        Off and on schools will try to force make/models or compatibility with some centralized application, but even if all of that is standardized you still have the problems of 'what if some student's machine is having trouble' or 'student forgets/looses/breaks machine', which, as you say, either eats up class time or locks the student out of the class.

        I have seen success with out-of-class tools and applications, but those work because there is time to deal with problems.
        • why not just give all the students a virtualbox installer (it supports mac linux windows and solaris (maybe freebsd i don't remember off hand)) with a pre-built customized ubuntu virtual machine now they all have identical environment complete with browser, office suit, and what ever other software is required now mixed device environment is solved. Hell the school could do some custom branding of the VM if they wanted. Start requiring all docs be in what ever the defaults for libra/open office or pdf now a

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:58AM (#42545709)

      If you don't get much of a chance to observe kids across the range of education and you are involved in IT futures at all, it is worth looking at and thinking about.

      Notebooks have always been just expensive enough and big enough that, while kids had access to them, they had to make an effort to get them and use them. 7 years ago, when you had a laptop, you still had to put in effort to understand how to connect one to the internet and then make it happen -- often involving money. That is where the change happened.

      The generation of current under 10 year olds had access to always-connected-tablets/phones before they encountered formal education. Today's Jr High kids weren't quite reading when mom first put an iphone in their hands to distract them, and they have been fixated on them ever since. Kids don't have go get the laptop or carry one around. They just pull the small tablet out of their skinny jeans when they are and use their bigger one when they can, if they want to.

      This is the first generation that will be far more comfortable with the touch/glass interface than a physical keyboard by the time they hit the workforce. They don't know a world where the internet wasn't always and immediately at their disposal and have never experienced a life where they had to put in effort to find access or understand even the basics about how it works. They play game and live their social lives on them, they get Christmas and birthday gifts for applications or services on them, they watch television and movies on them and they read on them. Oh, and they learn on them all the time. Everything from lets-play videos, to cooking and dancing, foreign languages and even how to make their own videos for the internet are all things I've seen my own kids absorb via youtube on a tablet as something they chose to do 'for fun'. And it was far more normal and engaging for them to do it on "their own" tablet than a laptop or normal computer.

      The current batch of undergrads, which is really the end of the laptop generation, has adopted phones/tablets as well obviously. But more importantly, so has the current generation of graduate student and they are the teaching workforce and heirs apparent of the current faculty. Universities that maintain large footprint wireless networks are seeing record numbers of concurrent connections and it is changing IT strategy across higher ed. You already can't walk 10 steps on a large university during the semester without seeing a tablet and that was never the case with laptops. That's with the generation of people who had to learn to switch to tablets.

      So yeah. Tablets are different. And it isn't just marketing hype. If you are like me, you find them somewhat convenient at times but also annoying to use and you would rather stick with what is comfortable. But for kids today, laptops are the annoyingly quaint technology.

    • To me, the most obvious counter to this assertion is the notebook. Students have had notebooks en masse for 10-15 years now, and THOSE didn't really revolutionize the classroom. And if notebooks, which are way more powerful and open than tablets, didn't really change things all that much--then what makes him think that tablets will?

      Because tablets are new and notebooks aren't. With each evolution of personal computing, the same ideas are put forth by marketing and management types who see dollar signs. For example, "thin clients" can trace their heritage all the way back to the first timesharing computers and mainframes. But every few years, someone comes long and says "thin clients are the future!" The latest example is with cloud computing, where people predict gaming platforms will be replaced with thin client devices that do all t

    • Let's put aside the fact the professors are still, by and large, a bunch of old farts--many of whom are still using the same blackboard presentations and transparencies that they were using 30 years ago.

      Just to be clear, a lot of them haven't switched because the content and teaching ability matter much more than what the information is displayed on. Take a bad teacher in a bad class, replace the blackboard with a fancy expensive smart board, and you'll have a bad teacher, a bad class, and less money.

      • But the inverse is true too.

        A good teacher can use the new technology to better the class.

        But often good means good with technology, not good with teaching.

        • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:42PM (#42547155) Homepage

          And the reverse is even truer - given a good teacher, it makes no difference what technology they use or if indeed they use any technology at all.

          • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
            Not really. There are people who are incapable of learning from other humans regardless how good the teacher is. Tech is king here, and there'll hopefully be big developments in this area for autists and others.

            But for the most part, totally agree. Most people don't understand that teaching isn't about following a lesson plan, it's about actually understanding your material and being able to see where your students are. Only when you know both can you reliably lead one to the other.

            • by vux984 ( 928602 )

              There are people who are incapable of learning from other humans regardless how good the teacher is.

              Agree, but your tangent about autists and high tech is just that: something of a tangent.

              A good teacher who knows their material and can see where their students are is still going to be ineffective at teaching a student who, in your own words is "incapable of learning from other humans regardless how good the teacher is".

    • by surgen ( 1145449 )

      Students have had notebooks en masse for 10-15 years now, and THOSE didn't really revolutionize the classroom.

      This is what always bothers me about the tech in classroom push, I graduated college only two years ago and while it makes me feel like a Luddite to say it, I think the combination of a video projector connected to the professor's laptop, a whiteboard, and a student with pen and paper doesn't really have a whole lot of room for improvement outside of specialized cases. My sister in law is an elementary teacher, so I know kids are one of the cases where tech can be put to really good use, but this article i

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        Now if we can just get students to stop taking notes and actually use their ears, and what's between, the world would be in a better place.
    • Notebooks, while available, weren't something many students could afford. When I was in university (about 10 years ago), a good laptop cost around $2000. You could get really junky ones for $1000, but they really were horrible, and probably woudn't last you for your entire 4 years of university either. Now you can get a pretty decent laptop for about $400-$500. If they were that price when I was attending university, I definitely would have bought one. Tablets (if you ignore Apple) are even cheaper. Th
    • Compare to the real world. Corporations still use white boards during meetings, and many people don't bring a laptop and almost no one at all has a tablet. But the whiteboards work and are still used almost everywhere. If they want something nicer then use a projector, though often those have trouble.

      Colleges need to worry about finances, not about how to spend more money on fads.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:47AM (#42544885)

    Tablet for the actual interaction, projector so all the others can see.
    That would certainly kill off the need for smart boards, which are just obtuse to work with in general.

    • by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:52AM (#42544937)

      Yes, for math/science especially, you need something that the professor can walk up to in front of the class and point to things. i.e. point out what part of an equations he/she is talking about or use gestures to illustrate a relationship between two parts of something.

      • or use gestures

        ah, you've hit upon the critical difference. The static output from a board capture or a slide deck is nice, but contains much less information than watching it in person or by video because the process is just as important as the final result (if not more so).

        Now, to be fair, Kahn manages to gesture by wiggling his mouse cursor. It's choppy but he's only using the tools available to him; perhaps a purpose-built system with a good pen would make this whole thing work.

        Has anybody done a s

    • Tablet for the actual interaction, projector so all the others can see.
      That would certainly kill off the need for smart boards, which are just obtuse to work with in general.

      I disagree, but you are mostly correct.

      With the rise of online education, I would wager you will see MORE use of smartboards, or at least a push for use of smartboards for dual in-person/online courses. The Smartboard will remain a critical element to capture the ephemerial 'chalk board' segment of a live lecture.

      Imagine that the profe

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        Or, you know, your prof could have been less of a dick and provided photocopies of his overheads, hell, you could have even asked for them. A smart board isn't going to magically make a dumb professor/student smart.
        • Or, you know, your prof could have been less of a dick and provided photocopies of his overheads, hell, you could have even asked for them. A smart board isn't going to magically make a dumb professor/student smart.

          I know it's easy to look at things and say 'Oh, here is the obvious solution, I can't believe you didn't do this.' the professor on the overhead was just an example. Would you matter if I said he used a chalk or whiteboard? The point is that it is a situation which can benefit from the use of

          • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
            Well, my solution was to just record with my brain everything that was going on. Well, more like storing diffs of important changes. It takes more time and effort to train your body to do what technology 'might' be able to do. However, your body will always beat tech in terms of integration, cost, and battery life.

            I'm just suprised that after so much experience with education nobody has decided that instead of cramming 'facts' down peoples throats maybe we should instead teach them how to feed and digest

  • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:50AM (#42544905) Journal
    Makes sense. Why have just the one big screen that can display information when you could have a whole department devoted to a system that can push information to a wide range of tablets with different operating systems, software installations and capabilities. It's far more fun trying to work around the 30% of students who don't have LaTeX installed, the 42% without Flash, the 19% without an HTML5 browser and the guy who should be expelled because he prefers a notebook and pen.
    • I'm not saying this is a good idea, or even a real solution to anything. But to play devil's advocate...

      It does help with students that perhaps can't see the screen well. SOME of the lecture halls at my old school... sitting towards the back made it difficult to make everything out on the projector because some professors would try to squeeze too much info in with small fonts or poor small handwriting. With a proper zoomable display on a Tablet this would be removed. And depending on how they do it, coul

      • Most of my professors upload all of their slides to the school CMS for all students to download. So if you really need it, you can already do this.

    • ...and the guy who should be expelled because he prefers a notebook and pen.

      Yeah, well they still work when the power goes out and there's nowhere to recharge. I actually tried a thought experiment with my sister (age 16) who lives on her ipad: I faked a power outage at the house and then asked if she wanted anything to eat. When she emphatically replied "yes", I told her to call the pizza place for takeout. Hilarity ensued, reducing her to tears. She didn't know any other way to get pizza than ordering it online. The idea of using her cell phone was foreign to her, as was the con

      • I hate to break it to you, but your sister is just stupid. My 8 year old nephew is fully aware that the the Internet isn't everything and that landlines tend to work even when there is no power. He's fully capable of ordering from any place on the list of numbers hanging off the fridge as long as you provide him with some way to pay.

      • Seriously stupid.

        My 7 yr old knows there's a bunch of restaurants & grocery stores 2 miles away, and that he can bike there.

    • by bigmo ( 181402 )

      70% of students have LaTeX installed?

  • I think "standardization of video standards" would be the biggest bugbear here - which college student will want to avoid a device that uses the latest Retina display or equivalent, if it means the 640x480, or equivalent "low-end" spec of the time will look either tiny or crappy on their screen? Look back a few years - we had the VGA "standard", XGA, WGA, etc., then the whole 4:3, 16:9, or 16:10 aspect ratio shift.
  • OpenAFS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:51AM (#42544923) Homepage

    Uh, sure. Ever try to actually get it working? Good luck doing that on iOS - it is a royal pain on Linux, let alone Windows.

    The sad thing is that OpenAFS is the only networked POSIX filesystem I'm aware of that actually works reasonably well and is secure. Pity that nobody actually uses it. NFSv4 with all the features enabled looks to be almost as good, and just as painful to set up.

    Why is it that I can take any Windows box and right click on a folder and turn on sharing, enter a password, and get something that is fairly secure, and yet the same feature does not exist on Linux? Sure, for a fortune 500 company setting up Kerberos and such makes sense, but to share a few files between two PCs?

  • I now do much of my shopping online. If I want a pair of Levi 501's, it doesn''t matter where they come from. As long as it is convenient and cheap. This is what has been dooming many brick and mortar stores. If this is true for stores, it may be more so for brick and mortar schools. With online courses and lectures, much of the need to waste gas money and driving time has evaporated too. My youngest son is taking college math classes and more online from an good University. The cost is far lower for him an

  • " I think the issue of file storage was solved by openafs a long time ago, certainly at the scale of small University."

    LMFAO... and yes, I am a Carnegie Mellon Alum and yes, when I was in Grad School I did manage to hack my research Linux box enough to be able to mount my Andrew share. Having seen how people who aren't in grad school at CMU actually use computers in the real world, somebody needs a bit of a wakeup call.

    • It took me just a few minutes to set it up on OSX using MacFUSE. Was very simple. I agree it was a bit more complicated on Linux, but if it's packaged correctly and someone makes a nice configuration tool, then it should be simple there too.

      • On most distros, openafs 1.6.x will install with $packagemanager $installcmd openafs-client. Before 1.6, installation could be a bit hairy (a few bits of manual config, kerberos needed manual local configuration), but nowadays basically everything autoconfigures through dns and you really only need to set a default realm/cell (even then, just for convenience). I hear the 1.7.x branch has made huge strides for Windows users too.

        I think openafs gets a bad rap because pre-1.4 was kind of a pain to set up, and

    • by ssam ( 2723487 )

      while AFS is great at some things, it has some limitations. we use it for home directories on our linux work stations and compute nodes here.

      however some things are strangely slow, i think because for various operations the AFS server has to inform all connect clients. for example exiting vim takes takes about 10 to 30 seconds. also it assumes that your computer is always online.if you install it on a laptop, and then disconnect from the network some applications will lockup because think they should still

  • why pay for expensive hardware and software and support when you can just make your students buy the required hardware?

    by now most android tablets and the ipad are at pretty much feature parity with almost all the popular software available on both platforms

    you don't need widgets or live wallpaper or the ability to enable/disable your radios easily to do school work

  • Smartboards are really just big trackpads. The reason they are so popular is that some believe you need a smartboard to project. For years I projected on regular whiteboard and just wrote on the white board. There are subject where have the large surface of the board as a trackpad is useful. I have seen very few people actually use the tools that come with smartboards, such as the ability to record the motions so a student can recreated a lecture later. Some believe there is some benifit to have a kid
  • Terrible idea (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    One of the main problems with this idea is that while tablets may certainly offer a good way for professors to guide students, they also come with a plethora of non-educational distractions (i.e., games and the Internet). I use lots of technology in my classroom and students frequently study Internet topics, but in the classroom itself all electronics are banned except those used by me. Students just cannot resist the distraction offered by cell phones and laptops, and classroom discussion suffers as a resu

  • Cell phone cameras (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:26AM (#42545283)

    Tablets didn't kill smartboards - cell phone cameras did. I've been in over 100 different client boardrooms and seen dozens of smartboard setups, but I've never actually seen one that worked properly. A plain whiteboard and a cell phone camera, on the other hand, capture the notes very simply and effectively. It may not be the fanciest solution but it's by far the most convenient.

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @10:51AM (#42545629)
    Most wireless routers can only support 50 clients at a time and that's in theory on the specs, not in practice. So unless they want RF-proof walls and 1 router per classroom, and no other 2.4GHz devices in the entire school, I think there might just be a little problem getting them on the network to stream course materials and presentations. So no, tablets in every students' is an idiotic idea that won't work.
    • by ssam ( 2723487 )

      can OLPC mesh networking solve this? maybe not if everything is in range of the router.

    • What school are you going to that isn't already blanketed with real WAPs? No, not your shitty Linksys from CheapBoxStore, actual wifi networks setup for proper roaming between WAPs.

  • There is no way I can get rid of the ceiling projector and the link to my laptop. There is an instructors desktop that is hooked to the projector also but I choose to use my own laptop as I have all of my lessons on that machine. I give demonstrations and tutorials all the time and work students questions live so they can see how I solved particular problems. I need to be able to show this to students. Now, we could get rid of the projector if there existed a way for me to privately share my screen wit

  • Any fucktard who can't use the simple phrase "in the future" is spouting buzzwords and can safely be ignored. Clear enough?
  • by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:16PM (#42546771) Homepage

    oh for ... sake.

    The SmartBoard physical device can be replaced with a $50 Wiimote ($20 clone) and infrared light pen ($30)

    The SmartBoard software, on the other hand, is what you're really paying for.

    Here's a free alternative to the software:

    http://open-sankore.org/ [open-sankore.org]

    The only person who we should even consider giving tech to is the teacher.

    What kills the SmartBoard and tablets in the class is the low resolution. It's like drawing with a crayon. And it's difficult to face the students when using it.

    I've found the best alternative is a simple document camera that can be built with an HD webcam (requires a minimum 1024x768 projector as well) and some free software I wrote. And yes, I used this in an actual classroom during my student teaching.

    http://coteach.org/1000-classroom/ [coteach.org]

    I put together the $1000 classroom to try this stuff out. Give me a steady supply of dry erase markers for students to use and a document camera and I'm happy. With the document camera I can sit or stand facing the students while I write. And everyone can see clearly what I'm writing. For student interaction, they come up and write on the board.

    But, this is why I'm not rich. I'm not in the business of selling overpriced worthless crap to the education system.

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:37PM (#42547087)

    Having worked for a "smart" board maker a few years ago, we did a study that dealt with a problem where most teachers used their fancy new expensive interactive smart board as nothing more then a second monitor and glorified projector, if even at all. Our software tracks board touches and saw that there was very little user interaction. In the same study we saw a huge proliferation in the use of tablets in schools which are highly interactive and touchable.

    The reality is that the education systems are slowly changing away from the 100's year old paradigm of people lecturing to a new concept of students "exploring" education at their own pace. Not all students learn at the same pace, some students learn math and logic faster then language, others the opposite. Forcing all students to study the same subject matter at the same time is why schools are good at creating failures rather then successes. A child that doesn't do math by grade 3 should not be considered remedial, for instance, and thus shunted to a system of lower expectations, their math skills may have clicked in later in development and could be as or even more proficient then anyone else that learned math earlier.

    So, the concept of a fixed focal point for a classroom is slowly eroding to more student-centric learning. The idea of self-guided learning is an emerging concept in many schools where the curriculum is a serious of self-guided lessons where the "teacher" is there to help students understand the lessons when they struggle.

    The problem with the company I worked for (and why I left) was that in spite of having this study and seeing their product tucked away in a corner being unused, they still insist on creating single focal point solutions for the classroom and only loosely investing into tablet based solutions. Sure the concepts of collaboration and interactivity between students is important, but not necessarily the only way to proceed with education. Smart boards are still expensive and often underutilized and in spite of some initial interest level from students, quickly become bored with the technology, unlike tablets.

    Better integration between smart boards and tablets would be the only way to save this company, but alas, is being greatly overlooked.

  • by javamage ( 1966164 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:48PM (#42547235) Homepage

    I've been recording and posting my lectures at JHU using Camtasia for many years...

    I whiteboard using a graphics tablet (Wacom Bamboo fun, drawing ink notes on Evernote). I write code examples on the fly in Eclipse (and if Android apps, run them in an emulator or use droid@screen to mirror). I surf to websites. When I rarely have slides, I show them. Everything I say (using a headset mic) and do is recorded using Camtasia. After class I do some minor edits and post the videos and example code from the class on the course website after class.

    Much less expensive than a smartboard (even moreso if you use alternate recording software), and the students love it (almost everyone comments on it in the evals)

    • * They can review the entire lecture easily
    • * They can focus on what I'm currently saying, rather than on writing down what I just said (some still take notes, but they're much more top-level outline than all the details). This has greatly increased the flow of the class.
    • * If a student cannot come to class, they can still see everything that I did
    • * It allows me to review what I've said in previous terms

    I'm a little surprised that the students still come to class... I suspect it's because they like being able to ask questions and interact with the other students.

  • by sdguero ( 1112795 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:33PM (#42548697)
    I had several professors who had classes moved to get older rooms with chalk boards 10 years ago. The main complaints I heard were that dry erase boards were hard to clean, the markers were more expensive/dried out/missing/bigger, and that the dry erase boards had to be replaced every 2-3 years if they were used a lot. These professors (some of the best I had, including an amazing CS prof) put up with all short comings of chalk (like breathing in all that nasty dust) because chalk had never left them stranded MULTIPLE TIMES in front of there classes the way dry erase boards had.
  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:30PM (#42550569) Homepage

    I'm a college professor.

    The clickers, which are expensive for students, were never needed in the first place. The people who pioneered this teaching technique started by having students raise hands to vote. They observed that some students were reluctant to be embarrassed in front of their peers by raising their hands for a choice that might be wrong, so they handed out large cardboard cards with letters ABCD on them. Students held up the card so only the professor could see. Worked great. The clickers are a waste of money for students, and the extra functionality they make possible is extremely minimal in proportion to the cost.

    The idea of only supporting students' tablets is silly. It may be true at the University of Spoiled Children that basically everyone owns a laptop or tablet and brings it to school, but I assure you that that's not true at the community college where I teach. My students are generall extremely cheap and extremely broke. The projector works great. It's up at the front of the room where everyone can see it. If I need to point to it, I can pick up a meter stick and point. If I depend on students to have tablets, then at any given time some big percentage of them will be off task for a variety of reasons: don't own one, didn't bring it to school, dead batteries, using it to play games, doesn't have the right browser plugin, doesn't have enough resolution, wifi isn't working, ...

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith