School of Education Adds New Technology to Program

School of Education Adds New Technology to Program

School of Education Adds New Technology to Program

On Nov. 22, 2013, the Buena Vista University school of education received delivery of a Smart Technologies SMARTBoard system from AVI Systems. The SMARTBoard will be used by University education majors to help them become better educators and prepare for technology that might be available in their future classrooms.

According to Dr. Karin Strohmyer, assistant professor of education – special education, “Students learn best when they are allowed to interact with the learning environment using a variety of resources and when they can rely on strengths while also developing weaker skills. This is accomplished through multiple means of representation (how we teach), multiple means of engagement (how students interact with the information) and multiple means of expression (how students show what they’ve learned). The SMARTBoard helps us to do all three.”

The standard cost of this type of equipment, including all of the software, is around $17,000, but AVI Systems chose to offer the SMARTBoard to BVU for a lesser cost.

“Dr. Strohmyer at BVU contacted me for an estimate on what a SMARTBoard would cost for her program,” said Les Hofland, system sales specialist – CTS at AVI Systems. “Once I knew her needs, I remembered we had a SMARTBoard that was previously on trial loan to one of our clients just sitting in our warehouse. There was a very small amount of hours of usage on the system, and I’m not sure they ever used it, so I talked to our management team and told them, ‘I think we have an opportunity to get this board to someone who would use it and use it well.’ I explained BVU’s program to them, and they agreed to sell it to BVU at a significant discount.”

The discounted SMARTBoard was purchased through the Youth and Families Empowered for Success (YES) Program grant, funded by an anonymous benefactor.

“We were able to purchase the SMARTBoard to develop special education teacher skills in differentiation, professional collaboration and therapeutic services,” said Dr. Strohmyer. “This technology, coupled with the programming, professional development and outreach in the YES Program will help us better prepare future educators to teach students with a variety of strengths, preferences, interests and needs.”

While the SMARTBoard can serve as a projection screen and offers a fully-functional audio and visual system, it is mainly a resource for presenting interactive lessons. The SMARTBoard can be used to teach to a variety of learning styles through hands-on activities, animations and interactive manipulations. It promotes multiple means of engagement through student interaction with the board, such as triggering an action on the screen by touch, manipulating objects such as shapes in geometry or virtual dissections in a science class, or taking a virtual tour of a historical site.

In special education, interactive learning helps students connect with content, and the SMARTBoard can be used to accommodate students with physical limitations. Educators can build interactive schedules, work on fine and gross motor skills and use interactive social skills activities that would be more limiting through laptop, paper-pencil or verbal activities.

The Smart Technologies SMARTBoard allows two users to be interacting simultaneously, enabling peer-partner learning, problem solving at multiple levels, and therapeutic model and practice lessons. It also includes SMART Meeting Pro, which is highly-interactive software that will help BVU education majors develop skills in professional collaboration, planning and data reporting.

Founded in 1974, AVI Systems is an audio visual, telepresence and broadcast systems integrator focused on building professional solutions for business, commercial, educational and government clients. They have 16 offices throughout the upper Midwest and on the West Coast, employing over 400 people, and it is a 100% employee-owned company. Their focus is listening to customers and coming up with solutions that meet both their needs and budget.

“At AVI Systems, we all belong to the communities where we live. We are all parents, grandparents, and family members, so it’s important to us to be good corporate citizens and support where we live and the institutions that educate our family members,” said Hofland. “This technology is really beneficial to the learning process, and we are so glad we were able to help BVU obtain this SMARTBoard and incorporate it into their program for future educators.”