SMARTboards, Promethean Boards, and other interactive white boards are very cool, but also very expensive. In this post, I’ll show you how to accomplish many of the things that interactive white boards do with hardware that costs significantly less. The tools used are simple: a projector, a wireless drawing pad (I use a wacom bluetooth tablet), and wireless keyboard. These three things, together, cost approximately $800 – depending on what brand/type you buy. You could accomplish most things with just the projector (for as little as $500). SMARTboards are over $2000 for just the board, and Promethean boards are much more.
I did some research on Interactive Whiteboards and talked to some people who have them. Here are some of the things they do with them.
1. Have the web on in the room all the time.
2. Record what happens on the screen
3. Use the notepad feature for graphic organizers
4. Show movie clips
5. Manipulate/Highlight objects on the screen
6. Have students press on buttons to “interact” with lessons or play games
7. Draw over things on the screen
I use some simple Web 2.0 apps to accomplish many of these same things.
1. With just a projector (and computer connected to it) you can shine whatever is on your screen, including webpages anywhere.
– Use your old overhead cart as a projector cart
– Though a laptop is handy, a simple cpu with wireless will do. I recommend a Mac mini. The projector will be your monitor, so you don’t need to buy one.
2. Use Jing Project or Screencast-O-Matic for screen captures. Both apps are simple, free, and easy.
– Jing Project saves as an swf file and can be directly uploaded to screencast.com and linked or embedded on your own page. See sample of google earth.
– Screencast-o-matic allows you to save your screencast as a quicktime file that you could edit later.
3. Record anything you draw with Sketchcast. This free web 2.0 app allows records whatever users draw. It then gives you a simple line of code to paste in your blog, wiki, or hompage. Students could also visit your sketchcast channel.
– I use this the most for math. Students can follow, step by step, the entire problem solving process.
– There are innumerable uses for this in all subject areas. I make diagrams for science. It could also be use for graphic organizers.
– This is where the wireless sketchpad comes in handy. You can travel around the room and draw or have students use it at their desk.
4. See #1 (Great video sites include PowerMediaPlus, TeacherTube, American Rhetoric, and Nova)
5. Shine your projector on a whiteboard, then have the students or yourself use markers to highlight anything. You can also use the drawing pad for this.
6. Students can’t “press” the screen with this setup, but they can use the wireless tablet to accomplish the same task
7. See #5
Other advantages of this setup are the fact that you don’t loose your whiteboard, and it’s completely portable. I’ve heard several teachers complain about their Interactive Whiteboards being placed smack in the middle of their regular whiteboards, so they can’t really write on them anymore.
Bottom Line – Interactive White Boards come with many more features than a projector and wireless tablet. In the right hands, they can be used for wonderful things. In the wrong hands, they’ll be completely underutilized. The majority of teachers I’ve talked to with Interactive Whiteboards mostly like having the Internet displayed in their room. Though they use them for other things, that is the main use. It seems like a lot of money to spend to just put the Internet up on a screen.
I’ve used the hardware and apps listed above for most of this year and it’s transformed the way I teach. An Interactive Whiteboard would have done the same, just cost a lot more money.