I teach middle school math and AP Calculus and I am very excited about the upcoming school year. It sounds as if I will be receiving some new technology in my classroom. This will include an interactive whiteboard and a set of student response clickers.

My dilemma is I am not sure of which brand(s) I should get.

I have done numerous hours of research on IWB and clickers over the internet (including the extensive thread here at "Does anyone have experience with both Promethean and SmartBoard to...) and have had some interaction with different boards and clickers at presentations and demonstrations. I have also downloaded and explored the software associated with each product.

Each product has its pros and cons. My original plan was to get a Smart Board and CPS clickers from eInstruction. But the more I research, the more unsure I become of what to do.

I’m posting here in hopes of getting some constructive feedback. Not “I have Brand A and love it! Brand B sucks!!!”

The following is a summary of what I think are pros and cons of the different systems I am looking at. If anyone could add to my knowledge or correct any misinformation I may have, it would be much appreciated.

Pros- Touch Sensitive, Equation Recognition (Math Beta), TI-Inspire software integration, a wealth of information/resources across the web, well established user-base
Cons- No multi-touch, lower touch resolution

Promethean Board
Pros- Multi-user, Promethean Planet, ActiveInspire software is more flexible/has more features
Cons- Not Touch Sensitive, Lack of internet “saturation” (although Planet is nice)

Pros- Ease of creating questions “on-the-fly”, integration of ExamView,
Cons-Not integrated with Notebook or ActiveInspire

Smart Response (Sentero)
Pros- Integrates with SmartBoard
Cons- Does it allow self-paced testing? No text entry, lack of ease for “on-the-fly” questions

Pros- Integrates with ActiveInspire, text entry
Cons- No self-paced testing (in an upcomming patch?)

Thanks in advance for any advice and suggestions.

Tags: cps, einstruction, iwb, promethean, smartboard, technology

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I am also considering the following:
Smartboard with Notebook AND ActiveInspire software installed. Then I would use the CPS clickers for a response system. Would this be a good setup, or would It be better to have a more integrated system?
Smartboard- must pay to get into their large data base of lessons.
Promethean- FREE with purchase

Smartboard- If a part of the board breaks, the whole thing must be replaced.
Promethean- Run by chip. If the chip burns, replace just the chip. Board is always good.

I have a smartboard and love it! My best friend works for Pormethean and she loves it! When I asked her what the 2 big differences were between the two, those where her selling points. It's a win-win either way! Kinds love them! I also have the Senteos...couldn't say enough about how much I love those too. I don't have any other knowledge on the others. Hope this helps!
Thank you Gina,

Just like Scott I have spent hours and hours researching, comparing the two competitors and reading other users contradicting recommendations only to come to the conclusion that it must be just a matter of personal preference and experience.
I agree with you, no matter which one you go for it is a win-win. Your feedback just gives a clear reason why to prefer one over the other.

Just want to clarify a couple of things that Gina mentioned the Promethean person (her best friend) said.
1. SMARTboard must pay to get into their database of lessons.
Not true, http://exchange.smarttech.com Completely free to access, must setup a free account to download. This is the same way that Promethean Planet works as well.
2. If a part of the board breaks the whole thing must be replaced.
Very misleading. In what capacity or what "part" is being referred to? Before I left the classroom we had a board that had a hole "through" the board due to a loading dock mishap that continued to work just fine. The only problem was that it wasn't aesthetically pleasing anymore.

I think you'll hear a lot on here Scott. Bottom line, contact your local reseller and get the product out there in your hands to try out. http://www.smarttech.com/wheretobuy if you would like to get a SMART reseller to help you out.

I'm employed by SMART but wanted to clarify the above information. If you have further questions ask, but be forewarned, everyone has an opinion :)

I word for Promethean so can answer some of this.

You can set ANY installed application to the toolbars and in settings you can assign TI calculators to activate instead of the one that is supplied.

You asked about self-paced.

Promethean's latest, and free, 1.2 update (due any day) provides self-paced testing as well as the ability to author self-paced quizzes in the ActivInspire software. This allows up to 9 levels of differentiation and all the kids go at their own pace. It can be set that if they perform well, they can jump up a level so they are always challenged appropriately by activities. The reporting is continuous and can be viewed on screen - so you can monitor, pause and intervene when needed.

The Expression devices have an Development Kit that publishers like Pearson, ATI, Learning Station and others, etc. have used to input the data straight into the school and district reporting systems. So if that is needed it can be done. The devices are also integrated with several other popular products such as Brainpop and Ignite learning - so the multimedia quizzes can accept data from the Expression devices.

You can import many Examview questions as well as IMS QTI questions.

I do not understand the Con of lack of ease of use for "on-the-fly" questions. There is a Quick Poll tool that gives instant access to any of the responses and this can be activated over any application such as a website or computer application. You get an instant graph of the results. to help direct instruction. I specified that feature personally since it is magical for true formative assessment... and if we could have made it easier we would have.

I would strongly recommend NOT trying to mix IWB software and clickers, since they are so tightly integrated. Esp in the case of Promethean for for ad-hoc questions, self paced or for getting kids to text words and ideas to the board.

Enjoy you research - whatever you end up with will be a light year ahead of a chalkboard and hand up!!
Mark Roinson,

Thank you very much for your reply. It helped clear up a couple questions for me. I went back to change my original post about on-the-fly questions.

I still have some more questions. I have been leaning more and more towards a Smart/CPS combination to the point where I have input my classes and made up some quizzes using just their downloadable software. If you can clarify some options regarding ActiveInspire/Expression it is possible to make a change at this point.

1) Will it be necessary to install ActiveExpression with ActiveInspire installed? I read on a forum thread over at promethean planet that Expression wouldn't be needed with Inspire. This would be great if true but leads me to more questions.

2) How do I import a test/quiz from ExamView into ActiveInspire? Is it an easy process or does it take multiple steps? (If Expression is needed, then I have no question but I am unable to test it out without a download of Expression available.)

3) When doing a self paced test, will I be able to have multiple versions of the test be assessed at the same time?

4) Are the responses (express poll also) graded/recorded in ActiveInspire? I can see where you can enter students into a database in the software, but I don't see a "gradebook."

5) Do you know if Promethean is planning to included equation recognition in ActiveInspire?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Mark Robinson,

I thought of some other questions...

6) eInstruction (CPS) recently added some information regarding vClicker Mobile. It's an app that let's mobile devices such as an iPod be used as a clicker. Does Promethean have anything like this in the works? I see they recently added an iPod app that lets users browse Promethean Planet which is nice. But being able to use a mobile device as a respose device with CPS is a great idea.

7) Why do you strongly recomment not using seperate IWB and clicker software. What would be the detractors of using CPS with SmartBoard or Promethean Boards? I envision a majority of my use for a response system being verbal questioning/express polling during a lecture and student paced during quizzes and exams. How would having an integrated system be a benefit under these circumstances?

Again, thanks for any replies.

Hi Scott,

I realize I did not respond to your questions.. holidays and work!

Question 1) All previous software and variant functions are combined in Promethean ActivInspire. So that is all you would need. You can download a version for free that offers full function for 60 days or so so you can test out the features - and after that and unless you activate it, it will become a personal edition with around 75% of the function and the ability to load, play and save any of the content shared by the 400,000+ teachers sharing their lessons on www.prometheanplanet.com

Question 2) File > Import > ExamView XML file... turns it into a quiz ready to go in one shot.

Question 3) More info about the built in self-paced features are here http://www.prometheanplanet.com/blog/?p=1648 it has 9 levels of differentiation in the standard software, but the devices are integrated with many other softwares now and this can be done

Question 4) Graphs and reports are generated in the software and update as you progress the lesson - so you can reteach immediately and address issues as they arise - rather than afterward, when you go to a gradebooks and analyze it. We have seen enough research to suggest that is the best way to improve the instructional process. Results for a session can be seen in a summary form in the software and exported into gradebooks via Excel. There are a good number of 3rd party products that have full banks of standards based tests and arrays of reporting options that integrate Expression handsets . A rich SDK (developers kits for programmers) lets others use the data from the devices in many interesting ways - not just for assessment - but games and puzzles and simulations, etc.

Question 5) Do I know if Promethean is adding equation editing? I have MathType in my Promethean toolbar - but watch for more Maths stuff

Question 6) I'll not answer that

Question 7) Inspire and the devices are closely connected for instructional purposes. Although it can work with any app - and you can mix and match almost any tech.

An example may be a creative writing exercise... where you want the kids to suggest parts of sentences. In the Promethean software you can hit the 'Get Words' buttons, whereupon you will get a list of ideas beamed from the kids. You can then 'seed' those words and ideas to the ActivInspire page and drag them around to use their inputs in your lesson.... Impossible if you had different make of clicker and/or SW

You can go beyond a seperate idea of 'polling' and create truly collaborative learning experience via the integration. With an externalised poll you would generally be limited to lower order or closed questions and not be able to develop a more constructed activity or group assessment that FULLY utilised the software features.

Another case may be a flipchart shared on Promethean Planet - where a users has pre-programmed a number of questions and idea contribution points into the experience - if you used Inspire to play the lesson - any other make of clicker would not recognize the questions

Other products have their own benefits and viewpoints about assessment and learning ...... so I would simply suggest get a few vendors in to answer your questions and do demos.

good luck in your search....

ohh... all the Promethean boards now have the option for more than one student to work on them at once for paired and team works and endless other ideas.
I can answer 6) now...

Promethean ActivEngage is a virtual response system for laptops/netbooks, etc. We currently do not see the same level of uptake of handlhelds in classrooms yet as laptops - but the idea is the same.

My district has had both. Last year they started putting Promethean into every teacher's classroom.We just are getting ready to put the 3rd and final set into the teacher classrooms. I have a clicker system and have just received the activote system.
I spent this week in training with the ActiveInspire. It has a lot of new features and is much more user friendly. I was told previously that the smart products will work with the Promethean. I know that the clicker system does, the Airliner tablet, and theoretically the CPS Chalkpad (I actually haven't tried mine yet; the pens don't work). Algbra teachers in my building are using TI with the Promethean.

The lab assistants have Smart Boards in their labs. No one has had complaints that I know of. I really think that whichever you get, you will learn to use and be happy with it.

Good luck and have fun!

The problem with CPS is not the clickers but rather the software.  The games suck.  Period.

Until CPS software lets you organize students into teams during which EVERYONE can click in within each team so all students are participating all the time (without having to pass around a clicker within the team), I'll stick to Game Show Wizard Extreme with my SmartBoard.  Nothing beats it.



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