Better Student Engagement Through Media Rich Collaboration with SMART amp

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post is a guest article from +Boris Berlijn, one of our speakers for Netherlands GIESummit held last May 2-3, 2015 at The International School of Amsterdam. In this blog post, he shares his experience working with a new cloud collaboration tool and how it has helped him really engage his students.

"There are no learning styles, but learning preferences” is what Heather Lamb pointed out during my first SMART amp Camp in Calgary, Canada and it puts this whole learning thing in a new perspective and is certainly applicable to the way SMART amp works, especially since technology is more the way students learn today, than the latest gadget.

This new ‘revolutionary’ cloud-solution by SMART Technologies contains the best of many worlds. The workspace looks like a endless Prezi or SMART Ideas desktop with SMART Notebook features, where students can collaborate together with or without teachers in all kinds of groups and share and add content as easy as in - for instance - Corkboardme or Google Docs. And since the SMART amp account is linked to your Google Apps for Education domain, all that is stored in Google Drive can be shared with multiple students with just two clicks away. Students can work simultaneously in real time in the same document, just as in Google Docs and they can add different types of content such as URLs, pictures, YouTube movies, documents, text etc. from any device that has an internet connection and web browser.

SMART amp workspace
And this is what makes it very powerful. There's no focus on one or a few types of operating systems or devices, so everybody can join regardless of the device they're using. On top of that, this online collaborative tool can easily be used as a presentation tool by the teacher as well, whilst due to the following mode, students will catch up and follow the lead of the teacher while explaining and teaching. But the real power comes in when students collaborate together with other students or even students and classes from abroad, as long as they do have an account within your Google domain.

Another real nice thing is that the teacher can add an assessment to the workspace and students can either do the assessment in smaller groups, or just by themselves as long as they all have access to the workspace you created. This way the teacher can easily get feedback on what the student is learning or the teacher can guide his students during the work process in the SMART amp work space.

I recently submitted a session about SMART amp for the Netherlands Google for Education Summit, because I really wanted to attend this summit and it’s a great venue for me to share my experience about this new platform which engages students to really collaborate with each other. I've been using this for the past half year or so in a few of my classes in a school domain to gain access to Google Apps for Education. My students have gained a new e-mail address and access to SMART amp. In-and-outside the classroom I can really see the power of SMART amp and I have even shared logins with schools from abroad to give them access to the workspaces my students are working in. With this tool everyone is working in the same direction, although not necessarily at the same speed or at the same time. If you want to experience SMART amp for yourself, you can visit this link to avail of their 90-day trial.


About the Contributor

Boris Berlijn

Boris teaches geography and global citizenship in secondary education at SMART Showcase School Ashram College in the Netherlands. He teaches in a SMART Collaborative Classroom which enables students to collaborate on the multiple boards in his classroom on a variety of group assignments and the use of education technology such as smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.

Boris is an Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Teacher. He is always on the lookout and trying to adapt new workflows in his teaching. See what he is up to on his blog or connect with Boris on Google+ or Twitter.