Interactive whiteboard finally comes to CSUN

Kantreal Daniels

SMART Board, an interactive whiteboard, has filtered onto the CSUN campus after a decade in existence.

“SMART Board interactive whiteboards are like the traditional whiteboards on steroids,” said Randal Cummings, director of online instruction, who is in his tenth year at CSUN, where he helps administer and facilitate academic technology.

SMART Board interactive whiteboards can do everything traditional chalkboards do but far more efficiently. This new whiteboard does everything the classic whiteboard does; it can be written on, things can be erased from it, and more. They have an interactive screen which enables for touch-sensitive capabilities.

Furthermore, it can import and edit videos, and everything is in real time, including images and sounds that can be uploaded instantaneously, due to its ability to go online as well.

SMART Board interactive whiteboards were first put into use by CSUN on Sept. 6, 2006, during the first week of school by a few engineering professors.

These professors, who use the boards and the sypodium, SMART’s other device, went through two one-day training sessions in March and May to familiarize themselves with the boards.

The professors that use these new boards have different opinions about them. Some are excited while others are skeptical that they are worthwhile.

“I’m not sure if CSUN is ready for these new boards because I haven’t had enough experience with them,” said Won Woo Ro, a CSUN engineering professor.

With the help of the software Elluminate and the computerized SMART Board interactive whiteboard, the traditional whiteboard has advanced.

“The SMART Board interactive whiteboard also brings the classroom home,” Cummings said.

This is far from the traditional chalkboard because students with laptops or PDA systems can write on their device and it will be displayed on the SMART Board due to the software Elluminate, a Web-casting tool that helps broadcast information on SMART Boards to be displayed to the class. For example, with the help of Tablet PCS, a student can be at their desk, write something on their Tablet PCS and it can be displayed in real time on the interactive whiteboard.

A few of the teachers at CSUN use either the sympodium or interactive whiteboard. The sympodium is a little different from the interactive whiteboard. When using the sympodium, the teacher writes the message on the device and the information is projected in front of the class by using a data projector.

The price varies for SMART Board products. The larger interactive whiteboard by SMART Boards that does not need the aid of a data projector can cost approximately $10,000. The departments at CSUN have discretionary funds and are therefore able to spend the money on whatever they choose.