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New Whiteboard Packages from Smart

Jul 3, 2007 12:00 PM, By Linda Seid Frembes


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Judging from its ubiquitous status in today’s classroom, it’s hard to believe that the market’s first interactive whiteboard was introduced in 1991 by Smart Technologies. Over the last 16 years, the company has studied and engaged the education market, and has used the feedback in product development. “Classrooms are becoming more complex so our aim is to simplify the use of technology,” says Rob Abbott, director of product management for Smart. “A good example is our addition of the pen tray; you pick up the red pen and it writes in red. Using it is simple and intuitive.”

Smart announced this month that its globally installed base of Smart Board interactive whiteboards had reached 650,000. The company also released a report from Decision Tree Consulting (DTC), a UK research company, which puts the global installed base for all interactive whiteboard manufacturers at an estimated 1,000,000 units as of December 31, 2006. With 65% of overall sales, Smart products are in 82 percent of the top 500 school districts in the United States. Interestingly, DTC forecasts that the interactive whiteboard market segment will increase three-fold in the next five years and predicts that one in seven classrooms will have an interactive whiteboard by 2010.

To stay ahead of the market, Smart is shifting its focus from selling product to more of a solutions-based strategy. Abbott says, “It makes sense considering we created the market. Other competitors who are new to the market may be concentrating on product, but we are offering solutions.”

As such, the company announced the availability of three Smart Classroom Solutions at the recent InfoComm show, with suggested list prices starting from $2,035. These packaged solutions offer a variety of product and service configurations that support different teaching and learning styles. The three configurations are:

Classroom Solution A

Solution A allows teachers to add more interest and excitement into their lessons by making them more interactive. Solution A is the most popular among educators and allows for future integration with other technology products. Classroom Solution A includes a Smart Board 680 interactive whiteboard, Smart Board software, an Airliner wireless slate, and speakers.

Classroom Solution B

Solution B allows educators to create dynamic multimedia lessons and assess students’ understanding instantly. Classroom Solution B includes a Smart Board 680i interactive whiteboard system, Smart Board software and the Senteo interactive response system with 32 remote control devices. The Smart Board 600i interactive whiteboard system can fit into any room, and has built-in speakers and a SystemOn button that allows a one-touch simultaneous start-up of the projector, computer, and either a Smart board 680i interactive whiteboard or a Smart Board 660i interactive whiteboard.

Classroom Solution C

Solution C supports a student-directed, one-to-one learning environment or any networked lab environment. Students can collaborate, research and complete exercises on personal devices while the teacher facilitates the lesson on a Smart Board interactive whiteboard. Providing guidance with SynchronEyes classroom management software is an integral part of the solution as it allows educators to monitor, instruct, control and assess students. Classroom Solution C includes a Smart Board 680i interactive whiteboard, Smart Board software, and SynchronEyes classroom management software.

“Many of our innovations still centers on Notebook, a technology tool that teachers already know,” Abbott says. Smart’s Notebook collaborative learning software offers a gallery of clip art and lesson plans to help teachers integrate the whiteboards easily into existing curriculum. According to Abbott, the company goes so far as to hire teachers to help design the lesson plans offered in the Notebook gallery.

Another important piece of the solutions strategy is Smart’s Senteo interactive response system (now shipping). Interactive response systems have been gaining ground recently in the education market as teachers try to bring personalization and real-time assessment into the classroom. The Senteo system includes a remote control device for the student and a receiver that allows teachers to send information to each device and receive student responses. Radio frequency (RF) technology enables students to send responses from anywhere within 100ft. (30 meters) of the receiver.

The Senteo system comes with Notebook learning software and runs with most third-party software, including Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, and Excel software, as well as with all interactive whiteboard brands.

"We have received great response to the Senteo system—as it meets the needs of our customers and is an excellent addition to the Smart products they may already be using," Abbott says. "We look forward to developing the product further to continue to meet the needs of educators around the world.”



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