College getting ‘smart’

JOHNSTOWN – During its meeting last week, the Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees watched a presentation on the “smart board” technology being used across the campus.

FM?Systems and Application Technology Coordinator Denise Passero gave the presentation and showed some of the features this technology offers to improve the learning experience in classrooms on campus.

The “smart board”?allows a typical white board in a classroom to become interactive with classroom computer systems. A module attachment, which costs about $400 and connects to an ordinary white board, allows the teacher to operate the “smart board” like a computer desktop, using a special stylus or a fingertip.

Passero said this technology allows a teacher to add notes to a prepared presentation such as a slide show, and then save the file to be uploaded to the online Learning Management System so students can have access to the annotated presentation for future reference.

“It makes any white board interactive,” Passero said. “You can actually use the white board to manipulate your computer screen. It’s useful because it allows instructors the ability to walk away from their platform area and still interact with the computer to launch an application or another program they would like to use.”

The instructor can highlight, underline and draw comments on the presentation they give in class with the “smart” technology.

Passero said where the Smart Board is really useful is in online classes or distance learning where a professor can prepare a “lecture movie” by recording video and audio to a file that can be accessed by students taking the online class.

It virtually gives the students the lecture presentation from their personal computers and gives a new opportunity previously not available in online classes, Passero said.

“It allows students to hear my voice and see the animation of what I’m doing or talking about, which is really helpful,” Passero said. “I frequently incorporate movies into my lecture, so this is a great tool for me.”

She said the technology also allows conferencing among multiple classrooms throughout the campus due to a scrapbook feature that allows it to be broadcast through the college network. It even allows others, if granted permission, to add notes to the presentation from wherever they are watching it.

Passero said when “smart boards” were new, each one typically cost several thousand dollars, but the new modules allow any room with a computer, projector and white board the opportunity to become a “smart classroom.”

College officials said they have been adding one to two of these boards regularly to classrooms as resources have became available. There are now 11 rooms on campus that use this technology, Passero said.

Officials said about half of the faculty on campus use the “smart board” technology.

“It depends on the instructor,” Passero said. “Some are into using the latest and greatest technology and others are a little shy about it, but it’s a valuable resource to the faculty here. These rooms are the ones instructors want to be in.”

She said most of the public schools in this area are using this technology, which leads students coming to the college to “expect it to be here.”

Levi Pascher covers FMCC and Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at lpascher@leaderherald.com.