Not belittling your point, John, as you speak the truth about the importance of the teacher, but the chalkboard, paper and ink are some of the most important technologies of mankind (Which, by the way, Socrates probably would have lamented against.) I'm a PLTW teacher and have to work hard to patiently remind people that anything man-made falls under the broad definition of technology. I see the point of this thread being that if you are going to adopt the use of something, you need to follow through with the ongoing cost. If you don't take that into account upon purchase, I see it as poor planning and implementation and definitely a potential waste of precious resources.
As far as "need" goes, we could also get rid of all writing instruments, books, paper, buildings, and so on, and just have our classes gather around us under a tree and simply talk to one another. Talk about savings! Now, I say this tongue-in-cheek of course, because I sincerely believe we need to do our best to help prepare our students for the world they live in and will live and work in as adults, and our current and future world is, right or wrong, for better or worse, an electronically interconnected world. If we ignore that fact in education I would state we are not properly preparing them for their future.
BTW, in my opinion IWBs aren't nearly as necessary as the projector. Personally, I declined an IWB and have the less expensive and more useful (to me) combo of a projector and wireless slate (a Wacom tablet specifically, works like a Smart Airliner). I'd rather be able to hand that slate around the room if need be.
I do not know what a PLTW teacher is. I did a quick search, but did not find a clear definition. It appears to be a special certification. Please define.
I sell EdTech equipment to schools, so I have a dear, invested interest in the adoption of this equipment.
But when budgets are tight, I remind teachers that they can effectively teach without these tech tools. When you have a $200.00 budget per semester, there are no entry level tech tools in that price category.
When I addresss a group of teachers for a product demo, I first ask " What is the most important multi-media piece of technology in your room?"
During the presentation, I'll tell a few tales of great teachers that directly affected me, and how involved they were with their subject, their career and my success.
After the presentation of IWB / Projetor / Document camera / Audio etc...I'll once again rephrase the question for the audience.
I sell tools for teaching, saving time, money and adding a new dimension in class. But, if the teacher does not care, You're just wasting your money.
PLTW is Project Lead The Way, and I teach Gateway To Technology, the middle school level of this program. PLTW is essentially a pre-engineering/STEM curriculum that has been adopted by many (2000+) schools nationwide.
When it comes to interest/selection/adoption of any technology for the classroom, I firmly believe that the pedagogical purpose needs to be clearly defined first, then the best tool selected for the job that its within budgetary limitations. For me and my purposes, an IWB would not have provided enough benefit for the cost, considering the nature of my classroom. I am not saying IWBs have no place in the classroom, but for me, they aren't the best fit.
You mention the $200 budget, which I am presuming is a classroom budget in the situations you describe. In my state (Kansas), technology purchases are typically made at the building or district level from capital outlay rather than general fund/operations budgets, and fortunately, so far, my district has done a commendable job of maintaining what has been purchased, recognizing that a projector does have a certain ongoing cost with bulb replacements. Even in these tough budgetary times, my district has the frame of mind that we have adopted various technologies as core tools, and does not view them as luxuries or frills that are freely available to hack at for budgetary purposes. We are keeping some computers in their life cycle for a year or two longer than originally planned, and are doing other things to keep the budgetary ship as tight as possible.
Since I have a web presence for my business, I receive calls and emails from schools in various financial conditions. There are many schools that have limited funds. These are usually inner city or rural poor public and private schools. They may receive a small grant or gift from their local community and are seeking to purchase some technology for their class. When I say $200.00, I am not exaggerating. Take a few moments and go to donorschoose.org. That'll give you a pretty good idea of real "need" in disadvantaged schools.
Sometimes I see a parrarell between EdTech tools and home power tools. I have 3 portable electric power drivers. I certainly don't need 3, and probably will get by without any at all, BUT, they're cool tools and I can afford to buy them. It seems that, the more money I have to spend, the more things that I "need".
I have visited some schools in NJ that are fully tech integrated, even their pencils sharpen themselves. (joke)...and others that have no computers, no projectors, old torn maps, and yellowed pull down movie screens. Mere blocks, less than a mile, separate these schools. Wrong side of the tracks is not just an old phrase. It is real. I have not really been able to determine why this disparity occurs.
If your dsitrict is well funded, enjoy your blessings. Take some time to look around, you may find a forgotten soul on the fringes that can use a little attention.
I read the replies and now can't respond to the one that asked if we really needed technology. Yes! The students in my classroom are engaged by different things than I was when I was in high school. Blame it on tv, computers, video, whatever you want, but the fact remains... to learn you have to be interested. Students are interested in technology and learning. In fact, they better be - that is the world they live in now and will work in, in the future!
IWBs and projectors are 2 different animals. An IWB needs a projector, a projector doesn't need an IWB. If you want projection capabilities stop buying the IWBs and invest in the projectors and bulbs and project onto existing whiteboards, blackboards, old-school screens, etc.
Tech on a tight budget is possible. Step back and think about what your short and long term goals are. If your instructional focus is to be online, using blogs and wikis, sharing docs through cloud computing like Google, maybe investing in a bunch of iPads ($500 each) for a classroom is the better idea instead of IWB/projector.
If your focus is IWBs and projectors you might need to sacrifice laptops, desktops, etc.
Personally, on a tight budget I'd invest in Lenovo netbooks. All the functionality of a laptop, smaller and more lightweight, full OS, and not much difference in price from an iPad (and I'm a huge Mac guy, so for me to consider a PC platform is a big deal - from a financial perspective it makes sense to me). I love the iPad but I feel it's 1 or 2 steps away from being viable as a sole computing platform (you still need a full system to sync).
Just some thoughts...
I have never actually had the opportunity to use an IWB, but I just project directly onto my regular white board. I actually use it as an interactive all the time. I use the dry erase markers to have kids fill in worksheets that are projected, and even pause video clips and draw on them. Also, have you looked into making your own IWB using the Wii remote? There are good instructions on the You tube. I haven't tried it, but I know of people who have had success with it.