ICCSD Replaces Smart Boards With New Projector System

Victor Kalil, Reporter

“Mine is getting old and it has lines in it.”

“It doesn’t always respond when I touch it.”

“It’s hard to integrate because I just want to draw on Adobe.”

Recently, the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) School Board voted to begin a process where smartboards four years and older will be replaced throughout the coming years until all of the present smartboard systems have been replaced.

Instead of having the entire system being replaced with a better smartboard and a better projector, the new system will only require a better projector, allowing the current smartboards to be replaced with white boards.

I thought they were just getting rid of them and just replacing [the smartboards] with just a projector, but as I’ve learned more about it, I’m excited about it because it’ll do everything I can currently do.

— Miller, AB and BC Calculus Teacher

“One of the drawbacks to smartboards is the fact that they can’t be used with a regular marker, and they’re limited in terms of size.” said Adam Kurth, head of technology at ICCSD. “The interactive projectors will project onto a regular whiteboard, giving students and teachers an additional general-purpose whiteboard for use in each classroom.”

The whiteboards will all measure 5’ vertically, which means most teachers will have 43% more area on their boards. Matt Miller, AB/BC Calculus teacher and extensive smartboard user, is one of the teachers that will benefit greatly from this change.

“My understanding is that it’ll be a bit bigger, and so so I won’t lose any functionality,” said Miller. “I’ll just gain another whiteboard for times when I’m not using my smartboard.”


The new projectors will also be at an “ultra-short throw” distance, which means that the projectors will no longer need to stick out a couple of feet from a wall mount. Projectors can be placed as little as 11″ away from the board so there is minimal interference with shadows. The projector will also be able to handle up to six different people using the board at the same time instead of the present smart boards that can only handle one user.

Although the cost per new projector ($1400) is a bit pricey, when compared with current smart board systems, the projectors are less than 40% of the price paid for the current projectors and smart boards in each classroom. Not included in the price of $3700 per current system are the costs to repair and transport the massive boards and technology when something gets damaged or malfunctioned.

Luckily, the $3700 systems won’t go to waste after they are replaced next year.

“The smart boards that are taken down will either be reused or sold to an electronics recycler.” said Adam Kurth, head of technology at ICCSD. “Those devices that are newer (less than four years old) will be stored, and will be used to replace defective smart boards or to upgrade older smart boards between now and the time when we’ve upgraded all classrooms to interactive projectors.”

The new projectors will also work well with ICCSD’s other technology initiative–going one-to-one with Chromebooks next year. Chromebooks, and other computers, will be able to work with the smart boards through the Epson iProjection™ App–up to 50 at the same time. The amount saved per classroom-$2300-is enough to purchase around 750 Chromebooks.

Multiple teachers had initial concerns about a new system swooping in, but ultimately teachers see they have nothing to fear. Miller was along those teachers with early concerns.

“I thought they were just getting rid of them and just replacing [the smart boards] with just a projector,” said Miller. “But as I’ve learned more about it, I’m excited about it because it’ll do everything I can currently do.”

Kurth says that after he describes that there won’t be changes in things such as the software use, most teachers have given support to the smart boards being replaced starting next year.

“Once I’ve explained that the functionality will remain, along with the benefits of the new approach, everyone seems to be on board.”