How does an interactive whiteboard work? … for dummies

Thursday, December 16th, 2010 | IWBs, technology

An interactive whiteboard is one of the most astounding pieces of technology that you can bring into your classroom.  Imagine one of your classroom walls as a huge computer screen, but one on which you can write in the same way that you write on your conventional black board or dry-wipe board.

An interactive whiteboard appears to be sheer magic, but the concept is quite simple.  The board itself is just one of three pieces of equipment needed to produce a miracle in the classroom.  These components, which must be linked together, are:

A computer – either a laptop or a desktop computer. 

A data projector – mounted from the ceiling or placed on a table or mobile trolley.

The interactive board – in most cases the board is mounted permanently on a wall, but portable ones are available too.

When these three components are combined the interactive whiteboard becomes a large computer screen.  Everything that appears on the computer’s screen is beamed through the data projector onto the board.  The amazing thing is that you can use a penlike stylus – or sometimes even your finger – to write on the board.  You can tap on the board in the same way as you would click with a mouse. Whatever you do on the board is sent via an electronic message to your computer.

In a way an interactive whiteboard can be seen as a big touch-sensitive screen, with the board acting as a screen, mouse and keyboard at the same time.  This allows for interactions between a person and the computer.

Various devices are on the market today, which makes it possible to have an interactive classroom without the board – these devices convert your classroom wall into an interactive surface.  Even some data projectors allow you to interact with the images thrown on a wall or a screen – and they respond to your interactions.

Classroom technology has advanced to a level where it can help you to transform your classroom into an interactive one.  An interactive whiteboard – or similar device – allows you to do so.

Click here for more information about interactive whiteboards.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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2 Comments to How does an interactive whiteboard work? … for dummies

Mark C
Thursday, 16 December, 2010

Although I like an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB), there are some finicky things that happen e.g. writing on the board can be crappy despite orienting it, the laptop software lags behind, the data projector sometimes acts up. Ofcourse, what I don’t get a lot is practice since I’m like a bee on steroids going from school to school. I still like having it, but the finnicky nature of this device can be off-putting if you don’t know what’s wrong, where to fix it and how much time is wasted on tech issues (not to talk a bout viruses again).

As with using any device, from a mobile to driving a car…what is needed is practice, practice, practice…a luxury for facilitators.

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