Does anyone have experience with both Promethean and SmartBoard to compare the two? Our school has dipped a toe in the water and is wanting to go much deeper, therefore we're looking for further information. Is there a preference for younger and older primary children?

I've heard there have been problems with SmartBoard. Any comments?

The fact that Smart notebook software can be freely used by anyone is an important factor for teachers preparing lessons at home.

7th April 2009.
I should add that Promethean now have released Inspire that can be freely loaded to ANY computer and can be used with ANY interactive whiteboard and can read several (all?) other IWB brand files, which at least puts them at level-pegging in terms of access to the software.

Later:
The Promethean 'free' software is limited in what it can do. It does not allow you to create lessons, which destroys its usefulness for me.

Tags: IWB, Promethean, Smart, iboards

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Wow. Thanks Danny for your generosity of spirit in giving such a detailed response. I hope it helps others as well as me. I'll share this and other responses across the school community.
That's the first I've heard about the stand-alone licenses - thanks.

My understanding of the version 3 software license included with an ACTIVboard purchase is that you can now install the software on as many computers as you like as long as you don't use the software with a competitors' board. This is an improvement over V2 of the software which indeed has a limited deployment licence (5 in Australia).
I'm not sure if the license has changed for v3 - the limited number of machines was definitely true for v2 in the UK (again this may differ in other countries)

you can buy additional licenses to run it on every machine in school, but it's not free (works out about £1 per user in blocks of £100)
http://www.prometheanworld.com/shop/server/show/ConGenericProduct.167
Queyen, that's another great piece of feedback. Thank you so much. The einstruction vs ActiVote vs Senteo is another comparison we might have to do but to date we haven't even considered them. As money is short for this coming year we might have to look at Airliners etc as a first stepping stone. I'm interested in Wiimotes as a way to have interactivity on the cheap. Kindlelab seems to be well on the way to creating useful opensource software as well. There are currently alpha versions for Window and Mac. I expect there will be new versions regularly until it competes with the commercial names. The users group should help this process along.
In my experience and opinion, you have it the nail on the head...it's more about the software and the ability to collaborate on lessons share them with colleagues, this is more easily done when there is a more "open" approach to the software used. That being said, when I consult in a school, and interview teachers, there seems to be more of a preference for boards that kids can touch with their fingers rather than a device at the younger grades, and more of a preference for mobility (i.e. Mimio devices) at the upper grades (6-8).
Doug
ease of use is important, as is ease of setup of the kit itself.

I find the problem with mobile solutions (ebeam, mimio) is that they need setting up at the start of a lesson, and that they need a lot of calibration. A portable projector also gets knocked more easily (so more calibration) and casts a bigger shadow than a ceiling mounted, permanent setup.

I've found in schools that have bought "mobile" whiteboards that their dream of the boards moving from classroom to classroom is more likely a reality of them never leaving the cupboard. I'd rather invest in one permanent setup that can be used a lot by the teacher in that particular classroom than several mobile ones that do not get used very often.
Hello Leigh, We are using both Promethean and Smartboards in our school. We had Promethean installed in Grades 3-6 and Smartboards in K-2. I have experienced both boards and have to say that the Smartboard software is easier to use. Because it is touch sensitive you do not need to worry about faulty pens and it seems that the smartboards do not need to be calibrated as often as the Promethean. In saying that, the Promethean is much sturdier, having a hard surface. What I would suggest is find out what the local schools in your area are using and what your education dept will be supporting as far as professional development. Our region went with Smartboards and therefore have many more opportunities for workshops and sharing. Any other questions, let me know. Hope this helps.
Thanks Doug, Danny and Alisha. This is turning into a good cross-section of the teaching world's experience.
We have two iboards at our school, neither of which are SMART or Promethean, and I have a different one again (Polyvision) which I found frustrating as board was made for industry and 'retrofitted' for education by us purchasing EasyTeach software. The software was okay, but when the next version was very experience, compared to SMART's free updates I decided that it was a poor investment.
Don't quote me, but I believe Stanford U went with Polyvision because it has a quicker reaction time than SMART Boards. No, I'm not sure how that is measured. With our SMART Board, I think the only way to be quicker would be to think ahead of me. But you then have to go back to Doug's point about the software.
Mmm. Should have edited before posting. It should have read, "I had a different one again" (some years ago).
Also should have said, "when the next version was very expensive..."
Welcome to the International Mistake Makers Group!
At our school we have only tried the smartboards. All teachers in the Math Department have one and we have had no problems with them. We have had no problems with setup or use. We enjoy them very much

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