I used to wish my school would spring for an interactive whiteboard. This year, however, I got a projector in my room and recently added a wireless drawing pad. After using these, I don't see much need for an interactive whiteboard.

With google docs, sketchcast, and another tool I just found - Imagination Cubed, I can do most things I've seen iboards do. When I throw in the wireless sketchpad, I have even more freedom and the kids can "manipulate" things on screen themselves. ( I've written more about the tools I use on my blog).

All this comes for significantly less money than iboards. Does anyone else use a similar setup? Are there iboard users who think that a simple projector and sketchpad can't measure up?

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I use a Wacom bluetooth tablet, but a wireless mouse for $15 does about the same thing. You can also get a "pen" mouse that works like a stylus.
I'm not sure what the capabilities of your setup are.
the kids aren't actually on the board when using Sketch Pad, right? Can you save the work through sketch pad?

We use Smartboards and I find mine pretty darn handy in letting the kids work on the board and then saving it in a Smart Notebook. Whether that is worth the difference in your setup, I couldn't tell you.
If you use sketchcast, it gives the user an embed code right on the page. This makes it super easy to embed on a blog, wiki, or other site. It also takes up zero space on your web server. The only trouble with sketchcast is that it's service has been spotty. My students and I used it all the time last year and then the site disappeared for a while. It recently returned, but my account no longer exists so I had to start a new one. You can use screencasting programs with kindlelab to accomplish the same feat.
I am a student working on my assoc. in elementary education. One of my assignments this week is to come up with a new teaching product using technology that I have or have not used before, such as whiteboards. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Which wireless sketchpad are you using? I can only find wired pads.
Thanks for a great discussion. Presently I'm torn between getting a SMART Board/Mimeo, or the lower cost options mentioned here. I inquired with a colleague who's getting a SMART Board for his room, and linked this thread. I don't know if it was read, but this was the reply.

"They are not worth the expense, but they are worth the prestige."

Is this reason enough to get one?

What's the prestige in getting one beyond, "Look at my cool, new toy!"

For what it's worth, after reading this thread, and others the past few weeks I'm leaning towards the following.

* Should I decide to go with an IWB it'll be a Mimeo. There's no way my school can afford the ceiling mounted projector/wall mounted SMART Board.
* I'm concerned about the "bridging technology" element of IWBs. They remind me quite a bit of giant laser discs, which morphed into today's DVDs. There's a "clunkiness" factor (hardware), that leads me to believe something smaller/more portable will be coming down the pike in the near future.
* The price is going to come down as more players enter the market.
* The "interactivity" is limited. Certainly, the teacher interacts with the IWB. Also, the student or two who come up to the IWB interact with it, but that's it. Admittedly, there's a WOW factor at the start, and that's enough to keep the kids engaged. However, undeniably, that fades, and student engagement diminishes.

If money is a factor (and when isn't it) you should purchase the best product that you can afford that meets your needs. As a disclaimer, I have a SmartBoard and have no experience with the other boards. It is not the actual SmartBoard that I think makes a difference in the classroom but what I can do with the SmartBoard. The software the comes with it allows me to design lessons that engage my students and allow them to interact with the content. The software makes the SmartBoard so wonderful, not the prestige.

I thought that the WOW factor would also diminish after a year of having the board. In May an administrator came in to watch a SmartBoard lesson. She asked the students how well they learn from it and what they like about it compared to classes that don't have one. One student said that we weren't able to use the board for about 3 weeks when our bulb blew. He said that class dragged during that time and it was harder for him to pay attention. Once the bulb was replaced the class flew by and he thought he learned more.

You mentioned that only one or two kids come up to the board. It is true that only one person can manipulate the objects on the board at time. I try to design lessons so that at least 10 students come up to the board and move a picture, categorize an item, add an ending, etc. I don't always achieve my goal but I want the students to move to the board if they want to. I rarely force a student to do something on the board.

If you aren't overly thrilled with the IWB, have you considered a tablet? Our math department prefers the wireless slate to the SmartBoard. It's easier for all their students to see how a student works through a math problem if no one is standing in front of the board. They like being able to hand the tablet to a kid and tell him to do a problem. Tablets are a lot less expensive if you don't need to purchase a projector.
when used properly, interactive white boards can greatly enhance student interactivity in the classroom. Your students and you can:

1. play interactive games;
2. sort items into groups/containers;
3. play with software you already use (PowerPoint, Kidspiration, TI-Smartview....) and interact with it on the board;
4. demonstrate how to use software (much easier to point or tap where you want students to click as they learn the software or website)
5. graphically organize information
6. hide and reveal information in a variety of ways to maintain student attention (i.e. - ActivStudio magic revealers)
7. label diagrams and maps
8. use student response systems, i.e., activotes, to do formative and summative assessments
9. use interactive websites - kids can tap the board to explore them
10. use virtual manipulatives available in the gallery (SMART) or resource library (ActivStudio), such as the ruler, compass, or protractor - zoom in to learn correct placement of those tools and to easily read measurements
11. interact with streaming video
12. print and save notes for kids; or save as a pdf and post to the web
13. use colors and larger fonts, streaming video, sound, actions (ActivStudio), and other features of the board to help special needs students
14. have students create a presentation to present on the board
15. allows teacher to be "guide on the side" instead of "sage on the stage"

obviously, whiteboards aren't the only beneficial educational technology - variety is key (and it sounds like you're using a variety of technologies!). use what works for you! however, interactive white boards can be used with a wide variety of other technologies and are extremely engaging, particularly when students frequently get to interact with the board.
To Charles and others considering IWBs:

Please don't do it - for your students' sake. There is almost no evidence that directly links IWB use to student achievement. More often than not, teachers just use them as nothing more than a glorified projector. Stop spending money and start spending some time investigating this. If you have tech money to spend, buy ipod touches or netbooks. It puts the technology into the hands of more students and isn't a waste of money.

I respect what Julie has to say about the perceived impact the IWB has on her students, but I think that her statements reflect many of the flaws inherent with IWBs and why other alternatives are much better. Cheryl also makes a nice list of things that you can do with your students. Not a single thing on her list, however, requires an IWB to be successfully implemented in the classroom.

The first issue I'll address, that Julie brings up, is that not all students get a chance to use the board. In fact, only 1 or 2 get to use it at a time. I don't doubt that the activities she has the students doing at the board are engaging and beneficial. It's also true that many (up to 10 a class she says) students get to use the board throughout the period. Wouldn't it be better if 10 students at a time could do the same activity at their own station? For the price of an IWB, you could purchase 10 netbooks or 15 ipod touches. They'd still be manipulating content the same way as before and wouldn't have to worry about the second issue Julie brings up - getting in front of the class. The student who is too shy to get up and do the activity at the board, can still do the activity in the privacy of her own station. (Though I think it is important for all students to get in front of the class to present).

The second issue is Cheryl's list. With a projector and any number of free web applications you can do everything she discusses. For all the money spent on the IWB, she could have outfitted her room with a bunch more computers. I have 8 old, clunky computers in my room and rotate my students through them to do everything from virtual labs (genetic manipulation, owl pellet dissections, electrical circuits, etc) to review games (example 1example 2, example 3). During whole group instruction I carry around my wireless mouse and keyboard (can be purchased as low as $19). My projector can put up any webpage or application on my computer (items 1, 3, 9, 11, and 14 from Cheryl's list). Students or I can use the wireless mouse or to highlight, move, click, or otherwise manipulate whatever is on screen. Cheryl talks about the wonderful manipulatives in the Smart or Active software. There is another great place to find all these manipulatives - the internet. Need a protractor - google it. I do this frequently and put the "manipulatives" into Kindlelab, which is free and open-source. Want to save it as a pdf, take a screenshot of it.

When I have students take notes on something in class, I give the wireless keyboard to one student and have him type it. Some days, I just have them go to my computer cart and type on the laptop. Every note we take is on google docs, so it automatically updates. If we have a diagram or drawing from Kindlelab, I take a screenshot of it and import the image into the google doc (see example). Doing this takes the downloading and uploading of a pdf out of the equation. Most web 2.0 apps have an embed option, so something like a bubble chart (bubbl.us) can be easily linked or embedded on a blog or webpage without uploading or downloading a thing. You could use the accompanying IWB software to do these things, but it makes it more complicated to publish.

The same ease of embedding applies to screencasting. You can use software that comes with the boards to record your screen, but then you have to download it, convert it to a web format, then upload it to another site to view on the web. With free screencasting apps like Jing, Screencast-o-matic, or Screentoaster you can do it all in one step. For math related things or diagrams, try Imagination Cubed or Sketchcast.

Another great advantage of not having a clunky board attached to the "old-fashioned" whiteboard in your room is the freedom to use regular markers on the screen. It's a lot easier to draw on maps and circle certain parts of a diagram or webpage with a dry-erase marker than it is to start notepad software and change pen colors with an IWB. You can't save the dry erase marks, but most of the time there is no need to do this. If I want a student to circle where the Andes Mountains are on Google Earth, I don't need to save his circle, but guess what - he still got to "interact" with the screen.

I'll stop now - though there is much more I could say.
This has been a good discussion. I think the key here is not the Smartboard but the teacher using it. Mike can have effective lessons without a SmartBoard by using other types of technology. I used technology before I had my Smartboard but I prefer presenting lessons and reviewing content with the SmartBoard. It works better for me and for my students.

One reason I like the students touching the Smartboard over having them use the keyboard or mouse is that they talk louder when they are manipulating items on the SmartBoard. When they do something with the keyboard or the mouse, they speak softer or they are looking down (when using the keyboard). I teach a foreign language and I want my kids to use the language and have the rest of the class hear them. For most subject areas, speaking isn't an issue when using technology. For me it is.

I also don't find that the kids sitting and observing are not learning. Some of my students need to see the manipulation of the content before they do it on their own. Most eyeballs are on the SmartBoard when one kid is up there. I knew that wasn't true when I simply had a regular board and wrote with chalk or whiteboard markers. How do I know that kids are watching the SmartBoard? I look at the audience while a student is up at the board. How did I know kids weren't looking at what I wrote before I had a SmartBoard? When I turned around about 1/3 of the kids hadn't even noticed I turned to look at them.

I concede that different subjects, different grade levels, and different teachers have different needs. Not every teacher needs an IWB to have effective lessons. For me, I feel that my lessons are more creative, more effective and more engaging with my SmartBoard.
Great discussion!! In my school we have numerous classrooms with whiteboards. My room has a ceiling mounted LCD projector and I'm very happy with it.

There are so many interactive web sites available now and students just take turns sitting at my computer. Doesn't work for all students, but something about the larger image really helps to get their attention initially...keeping their attention is another matter!

Teach 8th grade social studies and this year we watched "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the students really got into it despite their initial complaints about watching a black and white film.

I have found the best way to engage students and have them interact with the course content is to give them a task, and we can share and view their finished projects on a big screen...

2009 Music Video Projects
I'm not sure if anyone has given the link to the TED talk on the Wii remote control turned into a whiteboard but it is pretty neat stuff. Check out the video of the demo here.

We are going to make a couple this summer and test them out some more for classroom use.



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