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Brendan's design narrative - Interactive SMART Board Training

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Brendan Hurley
24 March 2013


I was tasked with providing instruction to staff members in the use of interactive SMART boards and its associated software.


In the third level educational institute where I work a number of interactive white boards were installed in lecture halls and tutorial rooms across campus. These boards were to be used primarily by our on-line lecturers, particularly those that needed to write formulas and perform hand written calculations in real time. (We had previously experimented with graphics tablets but found them unsatisfactory.) They were also to be used to make traditional face to face tutorials/lectures more engaging. 


I was attempting to give the lecturers the confidence and basic skills necessary to use the SMART boards.  The uptake in the use of the boards would determine the success of the program.


  1. Contacted all the lecturing staff to inform them the training was to be offered and asked them to register their interest. 
  2. In the same e-mail I provided a number of links to documentation and training videos to demonstrate the capabilities of the boards. An example have been given in the ‘Extra content’ section.
  3. As I expected it was difficult to agree on a time and a date that suited everyone who wished to attend.  To overcome this I ran the training session on a number of dates and at various times slots.
  4. I made the group numbers as small as possible to ensure I could answer individual questions and address any concerns people had with using the new technology.
  5. During the session I only demonstrated the basic functionality of the boards as I was conscious of not providing too much information and ‘scaring’ people off.
  6. I invited staff members to perform a number of tasks using the board.
  7. I asked staff members to contact me at a later stage if they wished to learn about some of the more advanced features.


A large number of the on-line lecturers started using the boards when delivering their courses.

Initial uptake was much slower amongst the face to face lectures as they couldn’t perceive any great advantage to using these boards as opposed to the traditional white board.


I believe the reason for the low uptake amongst face to face lecturers was due to the fact that they would have to redesign their course materials in order to make full use of the smart board’s capabilities.  Understandably this was something they were not prepared to do in the middle of the academic year. 

 A few years on the uptake has increased as lecturers have had more time to familiarise themselves with the boards.  Several of them have completely redesigned the way they deliver their courses making them much more interactive and engaging.  Many have taking advantage of the ‘record’ facility on the boards to capture their lectures and make the recordings available to students as downloads.


Extra content

Embedded Content


Alice La Rooy
3:05pm 24 March 2013

I found this cloud really useful. I am going to be rolling out similar training where I work so it was really interesting to read.

Kerry O'Hanlon
1:10am 28 March 2013

Having used a SMART board myself, this design narrative was one that I could related to. Your action steps were clearly laid out and there is no ambiguity in what you were doing. I noticed that this was delivered a few years ago. What is your current thinking of SMART boards in comparison to say a tablet and wireless projector rather than comparing to a whiteboard? Are they still a worthwhile tool?

Brendan Hurley
1:50pm 28 March 2013

Hi Kerry,

AV technology develops so fast it’s hard to keep up!  We’ve just installed an e-beam system but I haven’t tested it fully yet.  They retail at only €600 which is a third of the price of the SMART boards so if they’re as good as they claim on the website then we’ll use this system going forward for our face to face classes.

We also use Samsung’s Digital Presenters for people who still like to be able write on a real piece of paper!

Our online lecturers have started moving to touch screen tablets but I’d still be wary of wireless projectors if you’re planning to use any video.

Kerry O'Hanlon
2:38pm 28 March 2013

Let me know how the testing of e-beam goes. Some of our SMART boards have reached the end of their shelf-life and I'm sure the school would be interested in a cheap alternative to replace them.

Andrew Marriott
4:12pm 30 March 2013

Interesting comment on the impact of the timing of the training on its take up re re-writting notes in the middle of the academic year. Also on pursuading academic staff that there was a benifit over traditional whiteboards.

Sibylle Hyde
12:15pm 1 April 2013

I thought that your design narrative was really clear, more helpful than the one provided as a example. 

Useful video! Thinking of teachers I know who have a similar teaching style, we have run similar sessions and encountered the exact same problems.

Ashleigh Brownsmith
7:41am 3 April 2013

I agree with other comments that this narrative is very clear.  As a bit of an aside, I wondered if you found (given your comments about SMARTboard use) it difficult to get "face-to-face" lecturers/staff to attend your course?  We run a number of courses for staff within academic schools, and tend to find that those who sign up and attend are those who are interested in that area - others simply dont sign up.  As such, the results/reflection of the sessions is often positive as those who have attended do take in the information and put into practice what they have learned.

Also, with regard to those who would like further training, would that be provided in another, more advanced, session, or would this be more bespoke 1:1 sessions/e-learning?  We have often experimented with follow up training provided in a number of ways, and have concluded that 1:1 is often best, although within my context the tasks which a user is trying to complete are often unique.

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