I’m at the Online Educa Berlin conference for one of my day jobs. Some of the exhibitors are showing off their latest smart boards, and one in particular stood out for its looks — Smart Technologies‘ brand new Smart Board 600i.
I was allowed to play with it. It is very intuitive: Just touch to click, touch and move to click and drag, etc. There are also different colored pens and other software drivers that help teachers be more effective in a classroom — draw on the board and you’re also recording everything on the computer; it does handwriting recognition, there is a popup keyboard, and you can draw on top of anything the screen shows.
What I really wanted to do, however, is make my own poor man’s future user interface for Google Earth, so I convinced them to install the application. (This is how I discovered that the download process for Google Earth has been completely revamped — it now comes with an automatic updater attached). The results are below:
It’s a lot of fun to use, and it certainly made people stop and look. I found myself using the on-screen controls, which I otherwise never do, as in this kind of user interface, you don’t really control- or shift-click all that naturally. You really just want to drag the Earth around.
But at one point I also wanted to use two hands (or fingers) to rotate and zoom in on the Earth. That, alas is not possible yet with this machine. Still, if you have one of these in the classroom (and many Swedish classrooms have one) you should really consider using it for a lesson in immersive geography.
(Oh, in my enthusiasm I forgot to ask how much one of these would set me back. Their website isn’t saying.)