iPad vs. SMART Board: Taking Sides (or Not) in the Technology Battle

This article originally appeared on the The Chariot Group Blog.  Click here for the original URL.

iPad vs. SMARTboard

I have heard some tech people arguing back and forth about whether SMART Boards or iPads are more effective in the classroom. I have even heard of schools taking down interactive whiteboards after getting iPads and Apple TVs. Is this warranted? Which technology is more beneficial in the classroom, and how can we implement it effectively? I would like to explore these questions in this week’s post.

Do iPads Replace SMART Boards?

I frequently hear the argument that iPads can simply replace interactive whiteboards. Those who feel this way generally do not fully understand what a SMART Board can do. Those who say that SMART Boards are old technology could easily be told that an iPad is old technology as I had a touch screen handheld device in the late 90′s. This of course is not a good comparison by Apple lovers because an iPad is not the same as those old handheld devices. The real reason they are not the same is software. If you look at what a SMART Board can do now with the updated software you will realize most teachers are teaching far below their capability either due to a lack of training or an unwillingness to, or fear of, change (which means they won’t make use of an iPad either!).

Integrating Technologies: Why Two Is Better Than One

Any answer to the SMART Board vs. iPad question? Both technologies have their strengths and their weaknesses when it comes to enhancing student learning, but ultimately they can nicely complement and enhance each other’s features when used as a team. The SMART Board, for example, is a collaborative space, while iPads are largely individual spaces. Together these technologies synergize in a way that resembles The Avengers! The flexibility of strategies available to classrooms with both of these technologies is better than either one of them alone.

Some of the great things that can be done with both of these technologies working together include:

  • Having multiple people writing on the board at the same time
  • Having multiple students share work from their iPads while the teacher compares side by side, annotates over student work, and captures work and annotations for rubrics or evidence of student learning
  • Creating a whole class instruction lesson with individual student interaction on the iPad
  • Integrating student responses directly into lessons by having students complete questions on their iPads and submit their results to the SMART Board
  • Using iPads as document cameras to capture images, which are then put on the SMART Board to be manipulated (sorted, labeled, etc.)

What About Funding?

Lack of money is one of the primary objections teachers and decision makers have to integrating multiple technologies. Here are two important mindsets to help ease that perceived pain:

  • Technology acquisition is a process. Although these technologies integrate nicely, it is not required to do so immediately. Teachers can always learn to use the technology as they get it and add more when appropriate.
  • Go after the money. There is a lot of money out there if you are willing to go and look for it. Very frequently I see schools and classrooms with an impressive amount of technology. In talking to their teachers and principals, it’s very clear that it’s all about someone going after the money.

The Bottom Line: Maximizing What You’ve Got

The bigger issue comes down to helping teachers learn to use whatever technology they have to its fullest. This requires a planned, in-depth support system to enable teacher success with technology in their classroom.

What do teachers need? Whether they’re using SMART Boards or iPads or both, the following three areas are critical in support technology integration by teachers in their classrooms:

  • Training to learn what the tools of the technology are, how they work, and what they can do
  • Curriculum support to provide teachers with strategies for incorporating the technology into their lesson plans
  • Technical support to ensure everything is working optimally

This knowledge and support is how we get the learning gains out of the technology that we are hoping for. SMART Boards and iPads together in a classroom equal tremendous possibility for a positive and effective learning environment, and the proper support system can unlock this potential.

See Them Together in Action

Watch the video in the link at the top to see an example of SMART Boards and iPads working together!


Bob Jackman

Bob Jackman is a native of Utah. He graduated with a BA in Music Performance with a teaching certificate from Southern Utah University. Bob taught at Fort Herriman Middle School for four years teaching instrumental music. During that time he earned a Masters of Music from the University of Utah. He spent two years providing Microsoft operating system technical support and 7 years providing technology support for teachers to help them more efficiently use technology to help students learn. This was done while he was in college and while teaching in Herriman. Bob loves technology and education and is excited to put the two together and help teachers use technology to improve student learning. Bob Jackman is the Education Consultant Supervisor at The Chariot Group, Inc.


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