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Last modified: Monday, February 27, 2006

Researchers test uses of new teaching tools

February 27, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Educators and students at a local elementary school are getting a hands-on education with a new technology that transforms the traditional blackboard into a highly advanced teaching tool.

Dennis Groth, assistant professor of informatics, and Jacki Bauer, a master's candidate in the school's human-computer interaction design program, are testing the use of SMART Board technology at Bloomington's Fairview Elementary School. Their goal is to determine what strategies might be needed to empower teachers to more effectively take advantage of that technology.

SMART Board is the name of an interactive whiteboard, which uses a touch-sensitive display connected to a computer and digital projector to display images. It allows users to control computer applications directly from the display, write notes in digital ink and save work that can be used later.

"At first glance, it seems there are many resources for teachers that help them learn to use technology and provide lessons and examples for them in the classroom," Groth says. "However, many of these resources are outdated, incomplete, hard to use or simply just don't work. So, there is an obvious need in this area to make technology work for teachers and students in K-12 education."

Fairview, located in a low-income area of Bloomington and described as a "high-needs school," currently has access to three SMART Boards.

In the initial phase of their study, Groth and Bauer observed the interactions of students and teachers and conducted interviews with teachers to explore their attitudes and how they use the technology currently available to them.

Groth says their work now is focused on investigating better uses of SMART Boards at Fairview and developing prototype tools for specific classroom work. Results from this study will be applicable to other elementary schools of similar size with access to similar resources.