The Education Show, Birmingham


This is a picture from The Education Show, held in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. As you can tell from the gigantic ant, the focus was on the primary sector, with a lot of the attendees being teachers. Pictured also is David Low, Central Question's business development manager.

There was a heavy emphasis on Smartboards (very large touch-screen displays), which were being touted as a replacement to the whiteboard (or the blackboard of old). While these work extremely well in an exhibition setting, I not convinced of the usefulness of these in the classroom. The change to the learning experience for the student is small. The purpose of these screens seems to be to keep the teacher at the centre of the learning experience rather than to allow students to interact with learning software directly. It's a kind of high-visibility change, but with little impact. Style not substance. They may have a big future in exhibitions and demonstrations, but I don't see it in classrooms of the future.

Posted by Alexander at March 19, 2005 12:26 PM

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I'm interested in your comments about SmartBoards. My feeling is that they allow what is often a very insular experience (using a standard computer with VDU) into a performative, and shared experience. Have you observed them in use when you suggest that they're style over substance?

Posted by: Simon Wheatley at March 24, 2005 05:01 PM

(Typo: "they allow what is often" above, should read "they turn what is often". Doh. Not like I've been typing long...)

Posted by: Simon Wheatley at March 24, 2005 05:11 PM

Hi Simon,

I haven't seen them in use in the classroom. I'm putting forward an opinion with a small amount of experience and it's fair for you to take that into account when considering the value of my opinion.

I agree they will aid in a creating a 'performative and shared' experience, but I think you're making an assumption here that this is a better way for students to learn. I'd suggest that learning is best supported by 'doing' rather than 'watching', even if that 'doing' is more insular.

I can see why these Smartboards will be popular with schools(high visibility technological progress) and popular with teachers(keeps the teacher at the center of things), but I am not convinced they'll be any good for learning.

Posted by: Alexander McCabe at March 24, 2005 05:57 PM