Interactive whiteboards are making a significant impact in schools that have chosen to embrace EdTech in the classroom. The upgrade from the traditional talk and talk lesson is monumental and the learning opportunities they bring to the classroom are endless. But choosing an interactive whiteboard can be daunting as there are several technical features to understand, especially within the context of how and who they serve.
In this article, we’ll explain which features to look for and why they matter. You can also visit the ViewSonic education solutions page where you’ll find additional valuable insights into EdTech and the modern classroom.
Interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are an important step to meeting tech-savvy learners on common ground. With instant access to multimedia, touchscreen collaboration, and digital gamification baked into lessons, teachers now have the tools to engage modern learners in a way that feels familiar, relevant, and fun.
In this article, we’ll explain the key features to look out for when comparing interactive whiteboards in a rapidly growing and increasingly competitive marketplace, and how they relate to each of the three users: students, teachers, and IT support.
What is an Interactive Whiteboard?
An interactive whiteboard replaces the traditional chalk or marker whiteboard with a large interactive display capable of digitizing the entire lesson process, from planning to presentation to collaboration and even revision, quizzes, and games.
With internet access, audio and video support, touch screen functionality, and digital whiteboarding software, interactive whiteboards empower teachers to create engaging lessons that resonate with all kinds of learners to improve student outcomes.
How to Choose the Right Interactive Whiteboard
Choosing the best interactive whiteboard for your classroom will depend on various internal factors such as budget, classroom size, student age, use requirements, and available IT support.
But understanding the functionality and importance of the following features will help you make an informed decision within those parameters.
USB-C provides teachers with plug-and-play access to the interactive whiteboard via a single cable for video, audio, and power. Lightweight, reversible, and capable of lightning-fast data transfer speeds, USB-C connectivity replaces multiple clunky cords with one elegant cable, allowing teachers to connect with ease and keep their device fully charged without the need for an additional power outlet.
Not only more efficient, USB-C is now also the universal standard connector for electronic devices, positioning any USB-C enabled display as a future-proof investment.
Front-facing Input/Output Ports
Teachers with older laptops that do not support USB-C, or those looking to connect additional devices, will need to make use of the input/output (I/O) ports. Front-facing I/O ports are highly beneficial as they allow teachers to connect devices seamlessly without disrupting the flow of the class, sparing the laborious effort of having to plug in devices with the I/O ports located underneath or behind the display.
Touch technology drives the interactive element of the display, replacing outdated (and often limited) classroom supplies with a fresh digital toolbox that empowers teachers to create exciting lessons in which students can actively get involved.
Three factors to consider are the IWB pens, the writing experience, and touchpoint capability.
- Dual pens with independent color functionality will do more to support lively classroom activities, making multi-color annotation possible without having to actively select a new color. This essentially replaces the two markers found in traditional classrooms, only the ink never runs out and doesn’t leave teachers or students with stained hands and shirts!
- The quality of the writing experience will also differ between displays. A writing experience that feels natural and smooth is highly beneficial, especially for young learners still in the process of writing development.
- Touchpoint capability refers to the number of touchpoints (pens and fingers) the display can process simultaneously. The higher the amount, the more students can get involved in fun collaborative exercises. Currently, the standard across most IWB brands is 20-point touch, with high-end displays offering up to 33-point touch capability.
Quality audio allows teachers to fully leverage the educational benefits of in-class media while also working as a powerful tool to grab students’ attention, inject energy into lessons, and encourage student participation.
While adequate sound is subjective to the size of the classroom, the following points are worth keeping in mind:
- Built-in speakers will eliminate additional cables, which is especially beneficial in classrooms with young children.
- Front-facing speakers are better suited to project the sound to where it is needed, as opposed to those with speakers located behind the display.
- Displays that include a subwoofer are more impactful as deeper sound carries further and delivers a more immersive experience.
A microphone array is a series of microphones within a device that work together to capture a more dynamic range of sound. For example, a 2-mic array with microphones placed on the left and right of the device will be able to capture separate sounds from either side of the room which then combine to create a surround sound effect. And so, the more mics within the array, the more dynamic the sound capture will be, offering a better audio experience for the listener.
This is an important feature for many schools as distance learning and hybrid learning become more established. A quality microphone array will deliver more precise sound capture from all parts of the classroom for those learning remotely, eliminating the worry of students missing important points. With some IWB’s offering as many as 8 microphones within the mic array, teachers delivering or recording classes can ensure crisp and clear sound capture from anywhere in the class.
For classes with students present, voice detection and noise cancellation are additional features that will offer a further improved audio experience for remote listeners as they ensure the right voice is heard with distinct clarity.
IWB displays with eye-care technology take into account the effect of extensive screen exposure (a particular concern amongst parents in the digital age) by offering hardware and software solutions that provide a healthier learning experience for students.
Blue light filters and flicker-free technology work to reduce the amount of blue light waves and on-screen flicker respectively, which in turn reduces the eye strain and drowsiness often experienced after long periods of screen use. For a more in-depth look, check out our previous posts Blue Light Filters & Eye Strain – What You Need to Know and How Flicker-Free Monitors Contribute to Eye Health.
Additionally, while anti-glare coating is common among IWBs, it is not necessarily standard. Be sure to check this when considering interactive whiteboard displays, especially for classrooms with large windows.
Remote Display Management
Remote display management streamlines the role of IT support through simple and simultaneous management of multiple displays, meaning a single staff member with management access can control all the IWBs within a school from anywhere with an internet connection.
A significant benefit for schools investing heavily in IWBs, remote device management allows for actions such as software updates, message broadcasting, power on/off, and display changes to be orchestrated simultaneously across all classrooms, in groups (e.g., high school classrooms only), or individually, allowing IT support to easily respond to technical requests on-site or when working from home.
Digital Learning Software
Some interactive whiteboards offer basic digital whiteboarding software, while others can provide an entire solution capable of streamlining and digitizing every stage of the learning process, from lesson prep to presentation to revision and testing. IWBs with access to the latter will be beneficial to all users as EdTech continues to develop and provide schools with more efficient, exciting, and engaging tools to improve the way we learn.
ViewSonic’s Visual Learning Platform
myViewBoard by ViewSonic offers a full suite of tools, features, and functions within a single platform that provides cloud storage for teachers to access their lessons from anywhere, digital annotation tools and multiple presentation options for better engagement, and a built-in platform for video-assisted learning with over 2 million vetted educational videos with customizable lesson plans.
Entirely program agnostic, myViewBoard allows teachers to plan their lessons in whichever program they are comfortable without the worry of compatibly issues. Once lessons have been uploaded to the cloud, teachers needn’t even bring their laptop to the class as their lessons can be accessed via the myViewBoard companion app on their phone.
For an interactive whiteboard that has been specifically designed to support lessons that flow, the ViewBoard 52 Series offers a market-leading IWB that comes as a 65″ display, 75″ display, and 86″ display to fit any classroom. Complete with user-centric design features, best-in-class collaboration tools, advanced eye-care technology, an integrated soundbar with an 8-mic array, and a browser-based remote management system, the ViewBoard 52 Series leads the way in interactive whiteboards for education.
Final Thoughts on Interactive Whiteboards for Your Classroom
When choosing an interactive whiteboard for your classroom, be sure to consider each feature in terms of how it assists the user. Connectivity and digital software are a particular pain point for teachers as they worry about facing technical issues and compatibility problems when heading into every class. Touch technology, audio, and eye-care will all have a significantly positive impact on student engagement if supported properly. And finally, for schools considering multiple IWBs, a comprehensive management system will greatly reduce the strain on IT teams and instead show just how efficiently daily operations can be streamlined through EdTech.
If you found this article helpful, you may also be interested in reading 6 Ways to Boost Classroom Productivity with Interactive Flat Panels. Or, for more valuable EdTech insights, be sure to visit the ViewSonic education solutions page.