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    smartboards
    By Liz Sheldon

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    Although a smartboard does allow the projection of the computer screen to one that is viewable by an entire class, its real plus is that it can be intereactive. If something is drawn on the smartboard (i.e. circling specific items, adding notes, etc) those changes become part of the document on the computer, thus they are great for meetings, brainstorming sessions etc. The other interactive feature is if you are using a "shape up" , Inspiration or such program where things can be "dragged and dropped", or on the internet, your finger becomes the mouse on the smart board! You just put your finger on what you want to move and "drag" it across the board or point/tap on whatever you want to "click" and the computer reacts. It is very cool!
    As for cost, I am not sure, but you can investigate by going to their website. I do know that in the past they have offered "grants" towards the purchase of smartboards. When they were first available, they only had one style -- sort of a "stand alone" variety that would have wheels for transporting to different locations. Now they have other designs available. The only drawback I have noticed with them are they have to be "configured" each time they are used (to identify the viewing area) and sometimes lose their configuration during use if they are jostled or such --- that feature may have been improved over time. I also found that initial "stand alone" style kind of awkward to move around.
    While you certainly can go to smartboards website, also check out http://www.disistotech.com. They are distributors of a number of computer products including smartboards and also a product called "mimeo" which connects to a computer and projector to make an already existing white board into a "smartboard" with the interactive features.

    Finally, even using a smartboard requires an lcd projector which provides you with that capability of projecting what is on the computer screen. You need to decide what your purpose is (and how much $$ to have to spend)-- are you looking for the interactivity or just a way to project your computer screen for all class viewing and teaching? If just for all class viewing, a projector may be all you need.

    Good luck!

    Liz



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