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This blog will be primarily aimed at innovative educational techniques but will however have the occasional post about education in general.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Battle for the Interactive White Board: The Kids Surrender

Daniel Reza from his blog from Tech Learning, opens with the statement of “Interactive White Boards are here, whether we like them or not.” He then goes on to say how “teachers aren't going to give these things up and let the kids use them. Ever.”

I fought to get IWBs (Interactive White Boards) in out school and was finally rewarded with an InterWrite board from eInstruction.  I was in heaven!  As a physics teacher I could draw vectors in different colors and move them around.  I could use interactive websites with my class.  But I am not one of the teachers that Mr. Reza refers to.  I handed the pen to a student the first day my board was installed.  I have students come to the board all the time to solve problems, draw diagrams, interact with flash activities and many other things.  The students enjoy it and it gets them involved.

Although I am a huge proponent of IWBs, I have had the fortunate experience of using a wireless tablet. I cannot stress how much I wish I had started with a wireless tablet before an IWB because if so, I would not want the IWB!  The wirless tablet lets me move about the room AND still do everything I could do with an IWB.  Both eInstruction and SMART tech have their own wireless tablets (Link to eInstructions tablets and SMART tech’s tablets). 

There are two other huge benefits to wireless tablets. The first is you don’t need to have any equipment permanently installed.  Boards need to be mounted to a wall with projectors mounted to the ceiling.  (Yes, I know, Prmothean boards are one unit with board and projector together, but you are still stuck with the size of board and calibration issues.) This allows the wireless tablet to be used with any projector in any situation.  The other benefit, and this is a big one, wireless tablets cost about 10% of an IWB!!  You still need a projector, but installation of an IWB will run around $4000, a wireless slate from SMART tech, $400.  Do the math.  You could have 10 teachers using a wireless slate for the cost of one IWB!!

Any way, back to Mr. Raza’s article.  He gives several links to demonstrate how to make IWBs more interactive with students, and if you have one, you should read his article.