Around ten participants joined our discussion on the pros and cons of interactive whiteboards in the classroom. About half of the participants have interactive whiteboards, the other half did not.
RESOURCES: Please see Liane's Diigo list of links for a balanced mix of articles highlighting pros and cons.
Hardware: the THING is an interactive whiteboard, often generally called a Smart Board. Smart is a brand, iwb is the thing.
Brands: A few of the most common brands are Smart, Promethean, Eno, Polyvision, Mimio and several others.
Software - some manufacturers make the boards AND additional software that can be used to create lessons and often have image and resource galleries.Other manufacturers make only the boards and third party lesson building software is optional.
Question: Does the IWB revolutionize learning or or is it merely a presentation tool that keeps the teacher at the front of the class? Some participants using Promethean Boards noted increased learning. The facilitator notes that the learning is taking place through students creating projects using the software and then presenting the projects on the boards.
Question: Is student learning dependent on the hardware and having an IWB or can they use other resources to create their projects? There are many free tools available for creating multimedia projects.
Question: Do IWBs support collaborative learning? The board itself is not conducive to collaborative learning and support only one or two users at a time (depending on type).
Question: Gven a limited budget are there other devices you would rather have? Is an IWB a must have or nice to have item? Cost effective alternatives to full size boards are wireless slates or interactive projectors.
Issues: Support, cost, maintenance AND above all the need for professional development.
Debate surrounding licensing issues with Promethean products. Some participants using Promethean stated that Prometheans lesson building software can be downloaded and used for free. However, the facilitaor looked into this after the discussion and found limitations on using this software with non-Promethean hardware. Please review the differences between personal and professional editions and what is allowed with each. http://support.prometheanplanet.com/server.php?show=nav.19251 TECHNICALLY, any interactive lesson building software can be used with any hardware, but the user needs to understand the licensing restrictions. Just because we can, doesn't always mean we should. When in doubt check the licensing agreement on the manufacturer's web site.