Next-Gen Interactive Whiteboards
A new generation of students has learned on digital whiteboards. The next generation
will learn on ones that offer more diverse features and web-compatible extras.
AN INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARD CAN BE
seen one of two ways: as either a highly evolved regular
whiteboard or an old-fashioned chalkboard brought to life.
Either way, these powerful digital devices are becoming the
new axis of the classroom. The newest releases are arriving
with specialized software that expands their features and
allows web access. Here's a glimpse.
Mimio offers an array of multifunctional interactive whiteboards.
Classrooms of any size can take advantage of the
company's four different models, from a widescreen model
whose screen surface measures 110 inches diagonally to
a standard 78-incher. Large classrooms will find no need
to run cables across the floor with these devices, which
connect to PCs via a wireless USB receiver that provides
coverage for up to 30 feet.
Diagonal Surface Size: 78, 89, 98, or 110 inches.
Web Extra: When paired with a Mimio electronic whiteboard
and a projector, the company's Studio software suite provides
important enhancements to the curriculum. Web-based
lessons can be captured and saved using the Capture Kit,
along with notes from the board, in various formats (PDF, JPG,
HTML) and printed or e-mailed.
Hitachi's StarBoard FX Duo-88 proves that bigger sometimes
does mean better. Its widescreen
aspect ratio (16:10) allows for
greater presentation space, so
multimedia images, animation,
and videos are shown in full effect
on the extra-wide screen. The
StarBoard's durable surface can
sustain scratches, dents, and
heavy-handed student use without
Diagonal Surface Size: 88 inches.
Web Extra: The Duo-88 comes with software that gives the
presenter the ability to record and capture onscreen activity
for posting on YouTube; a resource center
where lessons can be modified; and conferencing capabilities
for meetings and project collaboration with other schools
in a web-based community of StarBoard schools, called the
Smart's line of 600i Smart Boards
includes a widescreen model for
optimal viewing of compatible
videos, presentations, and websites.
Both the widescreen and
the standard (4:3 aspect ratio)
versions ship with boom-mounted,
short-throw projectors for longer bulb life, sharper image quality, and reduced shadowing.
Another plus: reduced glare so students can focus on
the activity on the board instead of on the struggles of their
teacher to see around the light shining in their eyes.
Diagonal Surface Size: 87 inches (widescreen) or 64 inches
Web Extra: The 600i series is paired with Smart's Notebook
Student Edition software, an authoring tool that is downloaded
to a PC or the Smart Notebook SE bracelet to help
students find information and organize files in a nontraditional
way. The software enables students to search for
documents and digital materials through keywords that are
viewed in a Web 2.0 tag cloud, a user-generated tag that
helps find content.
The company's next-gen
offering, the Eno, is a
highly functional device
with "three-in-one" capability:
makes use of a dry-erase
marker and letter and
number magnets, and
can integrate other
peripherals and hardware
such as a Bluetooth-enabled
stylus and a projector to make classroom instruction
Diagonal Surface Size: 78 inches (Eno 2610), 96 inches
Web Extra: Unique to the Eno, teachers can use web
browsers without having to download special software, and
can toggle between other applications and the web while
using the marker, magnets, and stylus.
Promethean's appropriately named Activboard comes in
various sizes and works well in an interactive environment
with its mouse pens. Most of the Activboard peripherals,
like the pens, are used wirelessly so there's no muss or
fuss with cabling. If the board can't be mounted due to lack
of wall space or a need for it to be transported back and
forth between teachers, there's the option to use a mobile
stand so the device can be moved around the classroom.
Diagonal Surface Size: 64, 78, or 95 inches.
Web Extra: Promethean has banded together with e-learning
software provider Elluminate to bring
web collaboration into the electronic whiteboard space. The
collaboration between the two companies allows students
from far-away classrooms to meet and learn together via
Panasonic's Panaboard UB-8325 has all of the traditional
functions of a digital whiteboard and also features advanced
computer control, capture, and share functionality. The board
is best used with Microsoft PowerPoint
presentations. In the midst of the presentation, teachers can
write, draw, print handouts, or save the content on the board
to a PC for archiving. The Panaboard is also bundled with RM
Education's Easiteach, educational
software that is
focused on core subject
matter such as
math, science, English,
Size: 62 inches.
Web Extra: A built-in
as the content
on the Panaboard can
be shared in real
that are both set up with the program.
Did You Know?
Blackboards began to be phased out and replaced with
whiteboards because of concerns over allergies and
other potential health risks posed by chalk dust.
Claudia Linh is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2009 issue of THE Journal.