Inspired by a conversation with former SMARTian Heather Lamb and SMART Exemplary Educator Emil Waldhauser I’m creating this blogpost about the use of SMART amp in the classroom as a student tool. Particular not as a teacher tool at all, because from my point of view SMART amp is designed for students as a sandbox to learn, collaborate and share and not a teacher tool used for creating presentations.
If you’re the kind of teacher that is not ready yet to let the students find their path themselves and are more comfortable with a teacher-centered approach with less student involvement you might want stick to SMART Notebook. As I see it the ways of their use are so significantly different that they should not be taken into consideration as tools that can be interchanged in completing a particular lesson objective, especially in terms of the teacher’s approach.
So, what bothers me a bit is that loads of teachers are creating the most beautiful presentations and lessons within SMART amp, whilst ‘mine’ are actually not for sharing purposes, due to the fact that most of the time it’s been used by students as a sandbox. Students are the owner of their own learning process and responsible for their shared sandbox. Then again not all teachers teach this way and therefor should not force themselves to use this platform, which I refer to as: The Sandbox.
SEE, friend and power-user of SMART amp Emil Waldhauser:
"The term sandbox coined some time ago but people have become aware of the meaning after Minecraft was released and got hugely popular. Undoubtedly, it is generally accepted as a great educational software that enables teachers and students be creative. And that is why I see a parallel between these two. The creativity and learning process is what students expect to be happening in contemporary classrooms. Using digital technology makes it more feasible than ever.
SMART amp is a perfect tool to collect all great, not so great ideas and completely odd ones to reflect the process of creating and developing an idea or concept. Its purpose is to reflect the stream of actions that lead to a particular goal that is set off with a question as well as to give as whole a picture as possible to enable learning from it and provide some food for thought.
As in Minecraft, students first decide what they want to create (we might try to forget the word ‘achieve’) and then learn ways of doing it to get completely immersed in the process of creating to discover some unexpected ways and occasionally come up with something slightly different and even greater than they anticipated. SMART amp becomes a building site heaving with workers where the process is what is important and eventually becomes the working process log. It is not a presenting tool as we know it to impress others with glossy final idea.So, you hopefully got the impression what SMART amp’s purpose can be but what is the teacher’s role then? Well, a teacher is actually the Minecraft software, providing students with possibilities and tools. In the end, a teacher is the thing everyone takes for granted and even does not pay any attention to it but is in fact the label and the thing that lets it all happen."