An interactive whiteboard (IWB), is a large interactive display that connects to a computer. A projector projects the computer's desktoponto the board's surface where users control the computer using a pen, finger, stylus, or other device. The board is typically mounted to a wall or floor stand.
They are used in a variety of settings, including classrooms at all levels of education, in corporate board rooms and work groups, in training rooms for professional sports coaching, in broadcasting studios, and others.
The interactive whiteboard industry was expected to reach sales of US$1 billion worldwide by 2008; one of every seven classrooms in the world was expected to feature an interactive whiteboard by 2011 according to market research by Futuresource Consulting. In 2004, 26% of British primary classrooms had interactive whiteboards. The Becta Harnessing Technology Schools Survey 2007 indicated that 98% of secondary and 100% of primary schools had IWBs. By 2008 the average numbers of interactive whiteboards rose in both primary schools (18 compared with just over six in 2005, and eight in the 2007 survey) and secondary schools (38, compared with 18 in 2005 and 22 in 2007).
Uses for interactive whiteboards may include:
An interactive whiteboard (IWB) device is connected to a computer via USB or a serial port cable, or else wirelessly via Bluetooth or a 2.4 GHz wireless. In the latter case WEPand WPA/PSK security is available.
A device driver is usually installed on the attached computer so that the interactive whiteboard can act as a Human Input Device (HID), like a mouse. The computer's video output is connected to a digital projector so that images may be projected on the interactive whiteboard surface.
The user then calibrates the whiteboard image using a pointer as necessary. After this, the pointer or other device may be used to activate programs, buttons and menus from the whiteboard itself, just as one would ordinarily do with a mouse. If text input is required, user can invoke an on-screen keyboard or, if the whiteboard provides for this, utilizehandwriting recognition. This makes it unnecessary to go to the computer keyboard to enter text.
Thus, an IWB emulates both a mouse and a keyboard. The user can conduct a presentation or a class almost exclusively from the whiteboard.
In addition, most IWBs are supplied with software that provides tools and features specifically designed to maximize interaction opportunities. These generally include the ability to create virtual versions of paper flipcharts, pen and highlighter options, and possibly even virtual rulers, protractors, and compasses—instruments that would be used in traditional classroom teaching.
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Chalkboards and trays full of broken chalk and chalk dust are becoming obsolete in classrooms across the country, as more teachers and school districts make the shift toward incorporating educational technology in the classroom.
The use of interactive "smart" boards -- first introduced to education in the 1990s by Smart Technologies of Calgary -- is on the rise. A recent study of teachers from kindergarten through the 12th grade by PBS LearningMedia found that six in 10 teachers routinely use interactive smart boards to expand and enhance lesson plans. And they aren't just for kids, either. College professors on campuses throughout the nation have turned toward use of interactive whiteboards to provide a richer, fuller learning environment for students.
What is a smart board?
Smartboards are interactive whiteboards that operate off software running on a host computer or a tablet device such as an iPad, or they can be used to present material from websites, DVDs, CD-Roms, VHS tapes or television sets. Many educators use interactive whiteboards to run presentations or emphasize lecture points through use of videos. Whiteboard manufacturers also produce a host of educational software, such as digital flashcards, math lessons and similar content that help students interact and engage in the material.
Smart Technologies is just one edu-tech player delivering interactive whiteboards. Other educational technology manufacturers include Promethian, Mimeo, Epson, eInstruction, Egan TeamBoard and Panasonic, which in late January introduced its Panaboard interactive whiteboard line with embedded PCs.
Growth in popularity
School administrators and teachers across the country rely on interactive whiteboards to increase student learning. Teacher on Special Assignment Robert Horter of Alachua County Public Schools in Gainesville, Florida, has assisted with the installation of more than 700 Epson interactive projectors in the district. The Wyndcroft School in Pottstown, Penn., has interactive whiteboards installed in every classroom, says director of communications Amanda Arkans. And schools across the county are receiving interactive whiteboards through charitable donations.
Nearly 60 percent of K-12 educators polled in the PBS survey routinely use interactive whiteboards, and teachers are clamoring for more educational technology in the classroom. More than three-quarters of teachers polled say edu-tech helps them motivate students to learn, as well as respond to the different learning preferences of their students. Seventy percent of teachers say these teaching resources allow them to do more than ever before in the classroom.
Alicia Levi of PBS Education says technology is a critical part of learning and teaching in today's classrooms.
"Teachers need access to high-quality digital content to keep pace with schools' investment in interactive whiteboards, tablets and other devices to maximize the educational benefits of technology in classrooms," she says.
App store learning
Interactive whiteboards connected to iPads are changing the way lessons are delivered, says Mike Sullivan, a veteran Spanish teacher for the Weston Public Schools in Weston, Mass. Sullivan routinely uses interactive whiteboards in his fourth- and fifth-grade Spanish classes. He delivers learning material through an iPad and a variety of Spanish-learning apps, such as Noyo Spanish and Mindsnacks Spanish. Students learn about geography through Google Earth, and they use a program called Screenchomp to complete different hands-on projects displayed on the smart board.
Interactive whiteboards and higher education
College educators routinely say they enjoy using interactive whiteboards in the classroom for a variety of reasons, most of which don't include the opportunity to provide expanded content. Professors say they can engage more students through the use of infrared or radio-operated "clickers" during lessons, with multiple choice or polling options. Using these handheld clicker devices, students chime in to lecture material, and professors say the anonymity offered by the clickers often appeals to and draws out shy students who typically avoid raising their hands and drawing the attention of their peers. Students also can provide real-time feedback to professors.
Professors also aren't limited to delivering lectures in front of the classroom or at a podium, says whiteboard manufacturer eInstruction. They are free to roam the classroom and deliver more engaging instruction. A study of interactive whiteboard use in college classrooms, conducted by Linda Tate of Shepherd College in Shepherd, W. Va., revealed that many college professors found that using interactive whiteboards helped them engage students in general education material that typically draws lukewarm student interest. Post-course survey results say students found the interactive whiteboards to be a fun and beneficial addition to classroom discussions and lectures.
Use of interactive whiteboards has become so prevalent that some online schools now offer courses on interactive whiteboard use designed to help educators maximize use of these tools in the classroom. As more classrooms bring smart whiteboards into play, manufacturers are expected to increase their offerings of content-rich software and hardware.
About the Author:
Engaging students in some classroom topics can be difficult. But with the help of your interactive whiteboard you can get and keep your students interested in what you are trying to teach them. Here are 10 especially cool whiteboard resources for grades K-12.
Stellarium – This free planetarium software is perfect for astronomy lessons. Stellarium displays a realistic 3D sky, complete with planets, major moons, more than 600,000 stars, and constellations from 10 cultures.
Illuminations – Created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Illumination provides more than 100 interactive math games and activities for students in grades pre-K through 12.
FreeRice – FreeRice is an amazing trivia game from the United Nations World Food Program. Rice is donated to hungry people every time visitors answer trivia questions correctly. Trivia categories include art, chemistry, math, English vocabulary and grammar, geography, and language learning.
Signed Stories – Signed Stories features videos of stories being told with sign language and subtitles. Although the site is designed primarily for deaf children it would be useful to any classroom interested in learning more about sign language.
Sheppard Software – Sheppard Software provides a wide range of free educational web games for students. Covered topics include animals, science, chemistry, health, history, math, and vocabulary.
Fit Brains – Designed by a clinical neuropsychologist and brain health expert, Fit Brains is an online gaming platform with puzzles and other “brain games.” Players can track their progress and win trophies and achievements when they do well.
Tutpup – Tutpup is a competitive game site that allows students to play interactive web games with other children around the world. All of the games on Tutpup focus on math or spelling.
Spelling City – Spelling City is a free online learning platform with 10 learning games and more than 40,000 spelling words. The site also offers how-to videos to help teachers integrate Spelling City into the curriculum.
The Eco Zoo – The Eco Zoo is a 3D environment that can be used to teach students about environment, ecology, and eco-friendly living. Content can be viewed in Japanese or English.
NASA Space Place – This award-winning NASA website is a good place to find videos, animations, and games that teach kids about space science and technology. Nearly all of the materials on this site would work well with an interactive whiteboard.
Interactive whiteboards are a great way for teachers to engage classrooms in learning. These tools are also cost effective. The Internet has tons of free sources to help teachers learn about and use IWBs with students. Here is a list of 20 interactive whiteboard resources and activities guaranteed to stimulate learning:
TeacherLED – TeacherLED is a site dedicated to making the use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) easier and more productive. This comprehensive site features resources to use with IWBs in math, English, and geometry.
Topmarks – With some of the best free educational materials for IWBs, Topmarks is a great resource for finding IWB lesson plans and activities. This educational site also features teacher resources, educational sites for classroom, and homework help.
Interactive Whiteboard in the Classroom – This site for whiteboard users features tutorials, interactive websites, and software.
Eduscapes – This guide to interactive whiteboards explains different activities and resources that can be used with IWBs. Eduscapes is a good starting place for teachers who are just beginning to use this technology in the classroom.
Games and Activities
PBS – PBS provides a collection of fun, interactive SMART Board games. All of the games featured on this site are age appropriate and screened by educators.
MathFrame.co.uk – This site, created by a school teacher, houses several interactive math games specifically designed for IWBs. All activities are aimed at reinforcing mathematical concepts and skills.
BBC History Game – BBC offers several interactive activities that can be used with interactive whiteboards. This Famous People history game is a great way to teach elementary children about historical figures.
Scholastic – Scholastic provides interactive whiteboard lessons for phonics, math, science, and history. This site also features a search engine for finding more lessons across North America.
Crickweb.co.uk – Crickweb.co.uk provides 15 free resources for use with interactive whiteboards. These math activities are designed to teach elementary students the basics of math.
Math Playground – The Math Playground offers interactive math activities for middle schoolers. These games and activities work well for teachers who want to engage the entire class.
Classbrain – This game site features several interactive math games that work with IWBs. A fun game worth trying with students is Regrouping.
Funbrain – Funbrain offers several interactive educational games for use with IWBs. These fun games cover a range of subjects and grades.
Kerpoof – Kerpoof is an educational interactive website from the Walt Disney Company that can be used with IWBs. This site is a great way for children to create, discover, and learn.
Skeleton of the Beast – This interactive game from Discovery Education is a useful learning tool for IWBs. Skeleton of the Beast features four skill level timed games that teach children about prehistoric animals.
Xpeditions – Xpeditions from National Geographic provides an atlas that can be used on interactive whiteboards. This atlas explores every region of the world.
Periodic Table – This interactive periodic table site was designed for educational use by elementary to high school students. The site works with interactive whiteboards to introduce and engage children in learning the element table.
Archiving Early America – Archiving Early America features a range of short videos on American history that are perfect for use on IWBs.
Memorial Hall Museum – This free online museum features a complete interactive website for teachers. IWB teachers can view collections, online exhibits, and games.
Place the State – Place the State is an interactive geography game from Bensguide.gpo.gov. This resource can be used with IWBs to teach students about U.S. states.
by Elizabeth Mott, Demand Media
If your idea of a whiteboard fits in an extruded aluminum frame and rolls in to a meeting venue for use with dry erase markers, you may be surprised at the features and functionality you can find in the technologically advanced world of its interactive descendants. These large display boards still offer surfaces that accept markers, but with the ability to turn your fingers into writing instruments and save what you write in digital form, you may not miss your eraser.
Interactive whiteboards save or export the content they display and the annotations you add to them. They create familiar and widely accepted file types, including PDFs, PowerPoint documents, HTML documents and JPEG graphics. Rather than producing printed handouts for distribution after a seminar, you can use the whiteboard to email copies directly to participants, post them on a website or make them available for download. If you connect a printer to a whiteboard's host computer, you can print handouts that show presenter annotations.
Whether you use a whiteboard to display content that you've prepared in advance or you create live content as you progress through your presentation, interactive whiteboards support and capture what you write and draw. Depending on the whiteboard technology you use, you can write with an electromagnetic pen or wireless stylus -- included with the whiteboard itself -- or use your finger as a writing instrument. As you present graphics or multimedia programming, you can pause for annotations or invite audience members to the front to write on the board. The boards can also incorporate handwriting recognition technology to translate what you write into live text. With sizes that top out at more than 8-foot diagonal measurements, these screens can accommodate large presentation and meeting venues.
Interactive whiteboards connect to a host computer through a USB port or a wireless module. Although the USB specification limits the distance between computer and whiteboard to the maximum length of a cable, whiteboards with optional or standard wireless support can communicate at greater distances over a Bluetooth radio-frequency connection. Whether you use a Mac, a Windows PC or a Linux-based computer, you can find interactive whiteboards that support your operating system. With a projector connected to your computer or on a whiteboard that includes projection capabilities, it becomes a giant annotate-able display screen.
Interactive whiteboards ship with software that supports their standard or optional functions, including handwriting recognition, screen capture -- of projected and written material -- screen sharing with remote participants and transformation of session content into saved files. They make it possible for you to run and control standard computer software in front of a group, extending their annotation control to the document content you display and capturing the notes and markings you add to prepared documents. With support for standard Web browsers, you can incorporate online content into the materials you present.
Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.
by Elizabeth Falwell, Demand Media
There's more to whiteboards than dry erase markers.
At face value, it may not seem that whiteboards and an online networking application called GoToMeeting have a lot in common; however, whiteboards have come a long way since the dry erase boards you had in your school classroom or office meeting room. Interactive models of whiteboards -- complete with electronic and touchscreen technology -- allow meeting hosts to interact with participants in some of the same ways as GoToMeeting.
GoToMeeting advertises itself as a way for colleagues separated by long distances to communicate over the internet. The basic function of GoToMeeting allows registered users to organize an online meeting, then send out digital invitations via email to participants. When the meeting begins, these participants follow the sign-on link in their email invitation to attend the meeting. The host shares documents on his computer remotely with other users; whatever the host has up on his computer screen, all the other meeting participants will be able to see. In this way, the computer screen is like an old-fashioned whiteboard, except those viewing the screen may not even be in the same room, building or even country.
A host of companies, including Panasonic and PolyVision, are taking traditional whiteboards to the next level. Panasonic's PanaBoards combine conventional whiteboards with computer technology to create a tool being utilized in office spaces and classrooms. Students, teachers and corporate executives bring up information on the whiteboard's screen, then manipulate the data using touchscreen technology; as with standard whiteboards, users also have the ability to write on these screens to create new visuals.
GoToMeeting and whiteboards -- electronic models and standard dry erase boards -- can be combined to create even more flexibility in the workplace or school. For example, using GoToMeeting's new video conferencing option, hosts can connect with participants via a webcam. In addition to gaining access to the screen of the host's laptop, with this option participants can actually see the host and his environment. A host with a standard whiteboard -- the dry erase kind -- can use the board to draw charts, write notes and jot down important information as the meeting progresses without having to access his computer screen, all while the participants look on.
Because the new interactive whiteboards from companies such as PanaSonic include computer technology, it's possible for hosts to connect to GoToMeeting directly from their electronic whiteboard. Using these interactive whiteboards as the host computer gives users a quick way to display and modify information in a visual format, ideal for GoToMeeting hosts who are simultaneously giving a presentation to participants in the same room as well as those participating remotely.
Elizabeth Falwell has been writing for the TV news industry since 2005. Her work has appeared on WXII 12 News, WMGT 41 News, NewParent.com and multiple parenting blogs. A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University, Falwell holds a Master of Science in broadcast journalism.