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 Smartboards in Bermuda's Schools

Island’s youngsters get smart with new classroom boards!

COMPUTER-based technology has been used in schools in Bermuda for some years now. But a new technology replacing the white board is helping prepare Bermuda’s youngsters for an increasingly technological world while also making waves in the art and science of teaching.

Late last year Smart Technologies, based in Alberta, Canada, offered the Bermuda Ministry of Education, Sports & Recreation six “smart boards” to be used in a pilot project.

The goal of the project, the Ministry’s IT Manager Anthony Outerbridge explained, was to help educators study the effects of the interactive white boards (or “smart boards”) in subject-specific areas in the classroom — on learning, teaching, retention, attention and participation — while also helping educators understand how to implement and apply technology in classrooms.

Teachers in primary and senior schools were invited to be part of the project and a total of 34 applications were received.

Mr. Outerbridge said the Ministry decided to include all applicants and purchased an additional 28 smart boards to accommodate them all.

At the end of April the smart boards were installed and teachers began using the technology in their classrooms, including Francis Patton Primary One teacher, Dawnamae Bremar.

The Mid-Ocean News spent an hour in Mrs. Bremar’s class earlier this week to see how the board is used and watched as 15 enthusiastic pupils took turns putting the alphabet in order and matching words to images, sometimes having to stand on a chair to reach the top of the smart board — which works using touch-screen technology, but on a large scale.

Because their hands are still too small to be recognised by the technology, pupils use a tennis ball to drag letters across the board, dropping them into place to complete the alphabet.

They also use special “electronic pens” to write in the missing letters — in the colour of their choice a computer-generated voice repeats the letter to confirm whether or not the pupil put it in the right place.

Despite their age (some as young as five), they were quite savvy on the relatively new system and even pointed out to the teacher when she blocked the signal between the computer to the smart board.“The light is red Mrs. Bremar!” one pupil called out when the board failed to recognise a command the teacher was trying to carry out.

“From ongoing observations during school visits, meetings and e-mail communications, the reports are that the smart boards are used regularly and have captured the attention and interests of students (and) it is hoped that this student interest will lead to increased student learning,” Mr. Outerbridge pointed out.

He added this e-mail comment by Port Royal Primary teacher Julia Richens, who wrote: “Things are indeed very busy, but we are still smiling. The students have said to me that they do not want to go to Primary Three because they won’t have a smart board!”

During the next school year, teachers will continue their use of the smart boards and receive follow-up training on new features of the latest smart board software.


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