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 diminished performance.
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 Twinning Portal.
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 (standard).
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: The marker-magnetmultimedia combination 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 more interactive.
Diagonal Surface Size: 78 inches (Eno 2610), 96 inches (Eno 2810).
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 the internet.
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, and geography.
Diagonal Surface Size: 62 inches.
Web Extra: A built-in Microsoft application called NetMeeting enables cross-classroom web-based collaboration, as the content on the Panaboard can be shared in real time between classrooms 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, former managing editor of Campus Technology, is currently an online community manager for an international nonprofit.