Are "Interactive White Boards" transformative to your teaching and/or classroom?

Are "Interactive White Boards" transformative to your teaching and/or classroom? We are looking for feedback on whether they are worth the money. Do you really get your bang for your buck?

--- I am not looking for what company is better or what software is better...

Thanks for your feedback everyone!

Tags: board, interactive, iwb, promethean, smart, white

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Let's keep this vendor neutral, Jim. This is a pedagogical discussion, not a list of my company's marketing points.
I agree with Stu that professional development is key. Also of importance is that companies that make the boards also supply teaching tools (templates, lessons, images etc) to go with the board. Just a Wiimote IWB or Tablet won't have these features. For instance, I use a Starboard and can bring up different graphing grids for students to use. I didn't have to search the internet for the images. The companies also allow for other features such as screencasting and screen capture which you would need a different program for not using one of these boards. While considering IWBs remember that they probably won't suddenly increase scores on standardized tests. They will increase student engagement, student use of technology, and teacher use of technology.
I use mine with at least one group of kids almost every day. I teach elementary music and find it to be extremely valuable. It is great for so many things. I use it with the active software as well to get online and manipulate websites and to use with just about any software I would use in the classroom. I was talking to the campus computer tech person and I caught myself "air-penning" for lack of a better term. In the past I might have made a motion like I was moving a mouse when I was talking about something but today I was poking at the air like I had the pen in my hand pointed at the board. In other words, I use it all the time. For my purposes with large classes the board works great and the kids love the opportunity to get on the board.
I teach elementary school and WE use the interactive white board 90% of the day. The interaction is not for me; it is for the students. They need to be active listeners and participants. I believe using a slate would be a distraction rather than an asset for learning for 7 and 8 year olds. It's hard for them to even copy words from the board.
IWBs are most definitely worth the money! I just got a Smartboard in my classroom two weeks ago and use it all day, every day. Whether I have prepared a lesson to share through direct instruction or provide resources to engage students during group work, the Smartboard has become an integral part of my classroom. The students are eager to participate in lesson. Hands are up before the questions are asked. My students know they will have many opportunities to interact with the Smartboard. Most recently, we picked names for a new seating chart and the first row was filled first because "that way I'm closer to the Smartboard." Students love it and I love it as well!

Now I would just love a few classroom computers for students to explore technology in the classroom instead of during their 80 minutes a week in the computer lab.
I think they are bang for the buck!! With many features and since students are changing, IWb keep student interest as well promote an active not passive lesson. As far as what is better, I ma not sure yet. I currently us a Smartboard, but will be getting a tablet soon to see what I like better for 4th graders. I have also helped another teacher set up a wiimote IWB, and it is going well.
Also, I have seen a mimio whiteboard that can be cheaper, and still go a great job.

Stu is right 100% with the training! Also, my 2 biggest frustrations are 1. Projector not being mounted, so I need to orient often with my 10 year olds, and 2. teachers that have them in the room, but only use them for certain subjects and not all subjects! If you have one, you better use it, or it should be given to another teacher!! Just my opinion!
I agree with comments made here about considering other technologies that yield the same, or better, results, such as wireless tablets/slates or TabletPCs. The buzz about interactive whiteboards is stunning, but ultimately it's about what instructional problem is solved, or what instructional opportunity is captured that couldn't be before the technology. It's not the specific too itself so much as the fundamentally unique features the tool provides in the classroom.

I'll also echo what's been said about professional development. In K-12 we have a history of investing more in the technology itself than in what comes after--focused and ongoing professional development. Provide teachers "situated" opportunities to learn the technology by providing hands-on seminars and workshops where teachers actually build learning activities for students, and come away with a fully-functioning lesson plan full of great resources.
I've worked with Smartboards, love 'em, but Iust got my wii remote interactive whiteboard up and running this week.....and I love it. For $60.00, I'd put this into a classroom and put the savings elsewhere.
I am a fan of any technology that gets students out of the seats and actively engages them in a lesson. Static learning is not as effective or as fun as dynamic learning. IWB provide dynamic learning opportunities.

I created my own smartboard from a Nintendo Wii controller. This technology has become fairly popular and well known in the educational community. My setup achieves about 80% of the function of a traditional smartboard for about 10% of the cost. I expect that continued innovation will allow this technology to compete with traditional IWB.

The primary barrier of schools using IWB is cost. The "wiiboard" enables schools to afford this technology. Check it out-- you might be able to incorporate it into your school.
"My setup achieves about 80% of the function of a traditional smartboard for about 10% of the cost"

just wondering if you use a onscreen drawing program to write on webpages etc.
I'm trialing e-pointer ($45.00), but I've just found freeware called virtualboard that look really promising.
Here are the downloads

virtualboard
http://www.tucows.com/preview/379208 Homepage: http://lightools.fredisland.net/


e-pointer
http://www.foredu.com/e-pointer/
Why not project onto a traditional whiteboard and then use markers to write on the webpage?
I highly recommend steering clear of buying any IWB. The money could be much better spent on other things. Browsing through the comments, the two things that appear most often in the for and against arguments are "student interest" and "teacher training."

Student interest - This may increase at the outset, but not long term. Students get used to it being there and it becomes no different than a marker board. "Interactive" to users of IWBs usually means that 1-2 kids are at the board clicking on the screen. What about the rest of the class? Are they engaged? They certainly aren't interacting with it. Couldn't a teacher buy a $20 wireless mouse if they wanted to have one student "interact" with the screen?

Teacher training - Unfortunately, there isn't a cure for teachers who aren't creative, don't want to change, or happen to be lazy. A teacher with a projector and a little creativity can accomplish everything a teacher with an IWB can for about $3000 cheaper. Training is good, just train teachers in effective ways to use web 2.0 and get their students creating and analyzing things instead of just watching things.

Save the $3000 (or more depending on how many IWBs you wanted) and buy more computers for your room that students can use. They'll be "interacting" and creating a lot more than they would with an IWB.

If you absolutely demand the functionality of an IWB, make a wiiboard. My students helped make mine and we use it from time to time, but most of the time it just isn't necessary.

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