One of the biggest complaints I have against a SmartBoard is that in many ways the nature of the tool reinforces a teaching and learning style where activity is centered at the front of the room, and everyone else watches. SmartBoard activities, as great as they can be, are usually limited to a small percentage of the students doing while a much larger percentage of the students watch.
Conversely, the great thing about the iPad is that it brings the tactile, hands-on learning directly into the students hands, much in the same way a SmartBoard creates that on a large screen. The pedagogical similarities between an iPad and a SmartBoard are significant.
The problem, up to now, has been that there has been no effective way to use SmartBoard Notebook activities on an iPad. I’ve had dozens of discussions this year about how cool it would be if you could do a large group activity using the SmartBoard, then have every student do that same activity on their iPad, rather than having students come up to the SmartBoard to take turns.
But it looks as if all that is about to change. The EDCompass blog announced this week that SMART Technologies will be releasing an app that will allow Notebook activities to run on an iPad. Even better, it looks as if many of the editing features of the Notebook Software will be available from within the app as well. This is fantastic news, as it connects the educational experiences on the SmartBoard with the iPad.
To be honest, I think this is the only move that SMART Technologies has, and strengthens their position in the marketplace rather than weakens it. While the iPad clearly represents a huge threat to the SmartBoard, it’s also clear that SmartBoards aren’t going away (nor should they). By making the Notebook tools available on both mobile devices and SmartBoards, they now put themselves ahead of their interactive whiteboard competition. Playing nice with iPads is surely a smart move.