How do I choose an interactive whiteboard?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 | IWBs

Demonstrations of interactive whiteboards make all them appear so impressive – the choice is rather difficult.

Don’t be blinded by the brilliance of the boards – or the persuasiveness of the salespeople.  Even though it seems as if the power resides in the board, it does not.  The interactive whiteboard is simply a large display medium, with touch screen functionality.  The real magic happens in the computer that is driving everything that’s taking place on the board.

You know that a computer is as good as the software used by it.  It therefore follows that the effectiveness of an interactive whiteboard does not lie with the hardware components, but with the software that drives it.

Any software can be used in conjunction with an interactive whiteboard.  But keep in mind that most educational software products were developed with learners in front of computer workstations in mind.  An interactive whiteboard is essentially a teacher tool and the software required for its successful operation must be such that it can act like a flipchart.

Two important factors to keep in mind about interactive whiteboard software are:

Does the software allow for the creation of presentations and lessons – and allow interactions such as dragging items around on the screen?

Does the software meet your particular curriculum needs?

So back to the question: “How do I choose an interactive whiteboard?” You will probably consider factors such as cost, vendor ability to support the product, advice from your peers, and your own personal preferences.  But the most important consideration must be the availability of appropriate software for your intended use of the device.

Click here for more information about interactive whiteboards.

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2 Comments to How do I choose an interactive whiteboard?

ALBIE
Wednesday, 28 October, 2009

I have worked with different EIAWB over the past few years. Just to mention some of them: the StarBoard, TeamBoard, mimio, eBeam, Hitachi, Cambridge, Mecer + SmartBoard etc. Basically the hardware is (almost) the same, the toolbars too and some other technicalities and functionalities, BUT the software …. that is the key to an EIAWB successful application inside a classroom !!

Without being bias, an EAIWB with software that makes provision for curriculum implementation is the answer. Further, if the software consists of pre-planned lessons for all learning areas and interactive activities, the better. The cherry on the cake …. toolbars that are accessible for learners to operate.

Further….the board that I would ……sorry …. I must stay neutral.

Albie

Mark C
Wednesday, 28 October, 2009

An educator should know him/herself and his/her learners. From this one can determine which teaching style or methodology to use. Many learners, like myself, are visual learners. So, manipulating objects, linking them, stacking them and moving them around appeals to me. There must be software like that, that does it for me. Learning-by-doing type software should accompany the board. The software that comes with the board can be limiting, but what else is there? Many times we show things but they are not useful in delivering a good interactive lesson. One needs other supporting software which can stimulate thinking. If cost is a factor where software is concerned, look for a free version. There may be some lurking around somewhere. This is also an opportunity for our current software vendors to promote their software on the IAWB free (a trial version for a month) or make the older version of their software free.
An example of an educator using the existing software (Word and MasterMaths) provided is found on http://www.khanyaeastblog.blogspot.com

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