Photo courtesy of Walker Prince
Students are entering classrooms and noticing new, sleek looking screens placed directly in front of the trusty, older Promethean boards. These new devices are Boxlight screens. These boards feature interactive touch screens that are the latest technology in digital learning and intended to deliver a more engaging, collaborative and visual learning experience.
Boxlight’s state-of-the-art touchscreens are being promoted as an upgrade over the Promethean boards’ older technology, providing enhanced capabilities for students and teachers to connect in all learning environments. With the pandemic raising numerous educational challenges, MCPS decided to invest in new technologies in order to improve the learning experience for the county’s students.
Teachers as well as students have taken a liking to these new additions to the classroom as they provide more options and flexibility.
“I do prefer the Boxlight — it is more user friendly,” Media Service Technician James Mulhern said. “With Promethean, a lot of the software was proprietary so if it didn’t meet your needs, too bad. With Boxlight, there are a lot more options for software support and it doesn’t all have to come from the same company.”
The student body and staff are quickly getting up to speed on Boxlight’s new technology. Some are finding the Boxlight screens are beneficial, and have been making a positive impact on the learning experience.
“They help teachers a ton because they are so mobile and user friendly,” junior Leo MacDonald said.
Although the transition has mostly been smooth, there have been some challenges as well as concerns about Boxlights taking up room in classrooms that already have limited space.
”I find that the pen on the Boxlight doesn’t always work consistently so I have to write with my finger instead… The placement of the Boxlights in the classroom is especially challenging because we still have the Promethean Boards taking up space,” English teacher Erin Hall said.
Some question the need for spending tens of millions of dollars of the MCPS budget on Promethean boards, and question the need for the new Boxlight boards at all. Critics have questioned why MCPS chose a new technology that has rendered the Promethean boards obsolete. The Promethean boards, a $45 million dollar investment, are now mostly unusable technology. But others believe it was definitely time to invest in an advanced educational technology system.
“MCPS’s contract with Promethean ended close to five years ago; we knew a replacement system was coming,” Mulhern said.