The interactive whiteboard is a technological leap similar to the leap to the first blackboard, and it is set to revolutionize education. A new era of teaching that integrates multiple media and information sources has begun. In fact, interactive whiteboards have astonishing potential to make learning more engaging and effective in many surprising ways.
Read on for everything you ever wanted to know about interactive whiteboards in the past, present, and future.
Nearly a hundred years ago, celebrated educational reformer John Dewey admonished:
If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.
Never before have there been so many tech tools at our disposal for educating in entirely new, exciting, and promising ways. The interactive whiteboard stands out for its ability to amplify web-based resources and transform the way an entire roomful of students interacts with educational content. The advent of interactive large-format displays further expands the options for achieving the documented benefits delivered by this transformative classroom technology.
The Road to the Interactive Whiteboard
Classroom display board technology is a powerful thing. Introduced in 1801, the chalkboard was a transformative classroom technology. It freed teachers from costly and time-consuming handheld slates. The results were far-reaching. First, a dramatic increase in class size. Next, the expansion of education into the American population.
The chalkboard reigned supreme for nearly two centuries. In the early 1990s, concerns about chalk dust and students with allergies prompted the transition to whiteboards. Teachers applauded the new tool, which let them highlight and expand lessons with multiple colors. The classroom as a whole benefited from the elimination of chalkboard mess.
Along with the widespread adoption of whiteboards, new classroom tech began to link the boards with computers. Teachers could now save content written on the board to a computer hard drive. This enabled them to make instant print outs, spawning the short-lived name “copy board.”
Rise of the Interactive Whiteboard
Introduced in 1991, interactive whiteboards (IWBs) were destined to make an even greater impact on teaching. IWBs let teachers display anything on a computer to the entire classroom, ushering in a new world of educational possibilities.
With interactive whiteboards, students and teachers manipulate content directly on the surface of the screen. Teachers were empowered with exciting new tools. Student engagement increased. And classroom collaboration was set to skyrocket. Original interactive whiteboard systems were a display board connected to a projector.
Recently, large-format touchscreen displays, also called interactive flat panels (IFPs), became another option. These interactive whiteboards deliver the benefits of original projector-based IWB systems, plus added functionality. They’re also less costly over the lifespan of the device thanks to reduced power consumption and lower maintenance.
In Praise of The Interactive Whiteboard
Today, interactive whiteboards are firmly established as a teaching tool. You’ll find them in elementary classrooms and university lecture halls. Instructors praise their ability to foster interaction and focus student attention. Education researchers project that interactive whiteboard use will continue to grow exponentially.
Given the many benefits IWBs bring to the classroom, it’s easy to understand the enthusiasm for this versatile device. Ed-tech pros hail interactive whiteboards for their ability to quickly integrate classroom technology. Even technophobic teachers can use their most basic functions. As they gain experience, teachers are able to leverage the full range of IWB features and benefits.
IWBs infuse lessons with impactful content. Teachers can easily expand their curriculum by integrating new materials into a lesson. Virtually any electronic file or content from the Internet can be used, along with any online educational resource or app. Students and teachers can annotate on top of these materials with a fingertip or stylus.
Powerful Learning Tools
Teacher enthusiasm for IWBs is palpable in the education blogosphere and on professional sites like Edutopia.org. California Teacher of the Year Finalist, Sue Holland, teaches seventh-grade science. She’s been using an interactive whiteboard in her classroom for years.
She raves: “It’s very powerful learning! I can insert links to the Internet or go right to a streaming video on the web.”
During a lesson, if a student asks, ‘What about this?’ I can say, ‘Let’s take a look’ and go online to view it, instead of just talking about it.
Holland’s students use the board in a variety of ways, both individually and in groups. “I just stand back, and the kids are engaged. For example, we study diseases of the human body in seventh grade. The kids will research a disease, create a PowerPoint presentation, and then share it with the class. They can change their presentation while standing at the board, or write on the board if someone asks a question.”
Interactive whiteboards are well suited for any type of classroom, lecture hall, or even distance-learning environment. The possible uses for IWBs are virtually endless. Among their many features and benefits, IWBs offer the following:
- Teacher-directed viewing of any website, app, video or document to support learning objectives
- Dramatic emphasis of key learning points with onscreen highlighting and annotation
- Save and print capability for instant handouts, supplementary notes, and absent students
- Facilitation of group projects and individual presentations
- The ability to collaborate on text documents, spreadsheets, design projects, etc.
- Video conferencing connectivity for virtual field trips, international sister classrooms and more
- Text/data entry via floating on-screen keyboard
- On-screen editing and recording of changes or additions
- Support for effective special needs education
- Student feedback and assessment with optional audience response accessories
Learning Improvements Using Interactive Whiteboards
Students and teachers alike are speaking out about the ways in which interactive whiteboards enhance classrooms. Research backs up their enthusiasm. One landmark study of 85 teachers in 170 classrooms showed IWB’s impact on student achievement. Research author Robert Marzano states that:
The study results indicated that, in general, using interactive whiteboards was associated with a 16-percentile point gain in student achievement. This means that we can expect a student at the 50th percentile in a classroom without the technology to increase to the 66th percentile in a classroom using [these] whiteboards.
Marzano identifies three features of interactive whiteboards that contribute to even greater success. Each, he says, helps boost learning. Classrooms that combine all three will experience the greatest increase in student achievement. In his study, this amounted to an overall 31% gain. Performance boosting features of interactive whiteboards are the following:
- Graphics and visuals. Using graphs, charts, and other visuals to represent information was associated with a 26 percentile-point gain in student achievement. Examples include photos, drawings, and videos downloaded from the Internet.
- Reinforcing instruction. Marzano found that using “interactive whiteboard reinforcers” boosts understanding. These are actions that, for example, signal that an answer is correct or to present information in an unusual context. Anything with action that reinforces the info does the trick. Think applications that enable teachers to uncover information hidden under objects. Or those that drag and drop correct answers or cheer correct answers with virtual applause.
- Audience response. Teachers who used an audience response accessory had a 26% additional gain in student achievement. Often called “clickers,” these handheld devices enable students to enter responses as well as vote in polls.
Integrating Interactive Whiteboards into The Classroom
As with any new EdTech tool, training and professional development are critical to success. With experience, instructors progress from tentative first steps to mastery. From learning to use the basic functions, to integrating it into their daily curriculum. From there, they harness the ability to use more advanced features with ease.
When instructors are as comfortable and adept with their IWBs as they are with a dry erase marker, great things happen. When teachers have mastered more advanced features, interactive whiteboards are at their best. The technology delivers on the promise of simple, intuitive collaboration and learning – and a demonstrated improvement in student achievement.
Creating a school-wide culture of tech integration is one way to help ensure the success of classroom IWBs. Another is to foster openness to taking risks. The most effective professional development (PD) goes beyond simply how to use the tech. It shines a light on how the tool will bring value to teachers and their students.
Education IT staff must address the common teacher complaint:
Why would I try this when I’ve been doing just fine without it all these years?”
Ed-tech experts offer a five-step process to do just that:
- Build a tech team
- Scaffold effective professional development
- Make time for PD
- Demonstrate the relevancy
- Provide encouragement and support
Findings from the Marzano study support the importance of teacher training. In this study, some teachers had better results without interactive whiteboards. This was surprising at first glance. Upon review, Marzano determined that the key was how the teachers used the classroom technology. This included:
- Not taking the time to organize content
- Poor pacing in the delivery of the content
- Excessive use of visuals
- Reinforcing features in lieu of clarifying content
- Using a voting accessory but not adjusting teaching based on the findings
Getting the biggest boost from interactive whiteboards calls for a two-pronged approach. Tech training helps teachers move along the path to mastery of the board’s capabilities. Professional development should focus on how the tech will benefit students. In turn, this helps boost teachers’ desire to master and use the tool. PD providing details on ways to maximize the benefits of the IWB will deliver the greatest measurable learning impact.
Improvements in Interactive Whiteboard Technology
Administrators, educators, students, and research agree: Interactive whiteboards bring learning to life and improve student success. Options for using IWBs in the classroom are as unlimited as the imagination. Choices in interactive whiteboard technology are a bit more limited. Until recently, projector-based systems were the only IWB tech.
In 2011, large-format interactive flat panel (IFP) displays became a new alternative. Benefits of these flat screen TV-like displays are many. For one, teachers gain more features for developing and delivering high-impact lessons. IT staff enjoy reduced maintenance. With a lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO), IFPs are a favorite among administrators.
IFP displays are an all-in-one classroom solution that wears many hats and offers many advantages. For one, IFPs are multifunctional media centers with an embedded processor and web browser. For another, they’re high-definition displays. Finally, they offer multiple points of interactivity and are as easy to use as a tablet or smartphone.
Cost & Administrative Benefits
IFPs are simpler and easier to manage than projector-based interactive whiteboards. This makes them more cost-effective than traditional IWBs.
IFPs deliver better overall total cost of ownership (TCO) and a rapid return on investment (ROI) via:
- Easier, faster installation
- No initial calibration required
- Lower energy consumption
- Reduced maintenance: no bulbs or filters to change
- Longer lifespan
- Typically, free from licensing fees and software/hardware agnostic
Interactive whiteboards of any type boost learning outcomes. All-in-one IFP solutions deliver these added classroom benefits:
- Maximizes teaching time; no downtime from burned out bulbs or recalibration
- Greater reliability for more uninterrupted class time
- Eliminates shadows and glare (from projectors)
- Quiet, fan-free operation
- Crisp, bright display lets teachers keep the lights on
- Easy cart mounting for resource sharing (without recalibration)
- Versatile teaching tool for seamless use of cloud resources
- Enhances collaboration with multiple touchpoints and the ability to annotate over displayed content
Stunning, High Definition Visuals – Even in Well-lit Rooms
Teachers love the ability to keep the lights on. Students can see their notes. And teachers can see what’s going on across the room. ViewBoards® offer 4K resolutions for outstanding image clarity that brings content to life. Exceptional visual performance in well-lit rooms is guaranteed, thanks to high brightness. Easy, projector-free functionality eliminates shadows and glare. ViewBoards even look good when not in use, with an attractive ergonomic design featuring rounded corners and reflection-free tempered glass overlay.
Advanced Touch Capability Fosters Group Interaction
Get more students involved with 20 simultaneous touchpoints. Stylus or finger, it’s their choice. Write, draw or highlight on top of any displayed content. ViewBoards are engineered to deliver a consistent, smooth, soft, and highly responsive touch experience. The slim design and thin bezel eliminate the dead angles that exist in older Windows® environments.
Protective Ergonomic Design
Interactive whiteboards are designed for years of safe, durable use. Rounded corners help prevent classroom injuries, providing a safer environment for active students. To safeguard the display itself, the glass cover features a highly scratch-resistant surface. Rated 7H on the pencil hardness scale, it’s designed to withstand everyday classroom abrasions. Included hardware mounts the display securely to the wall for safe, stable use. An optional trolley stand offers added flexibility for mobile resource sharing and height adjustment.
Energy-Saving LED Backlight: Good for Cost Reduction as Well as The Planet
Enjoy more than a decade of eco-friendly use. ViewSonic® ViewBoard® interactive whiteboards use an energy-saving LED backlight with a lifespan of over 30,000 hours of average use. In a typical classroom, this adds up to more than a decade of high-impact, interactive teaching. With lower power consumption than typical projector-based IWBs, it also adds up to a lower TCO and higher ROI.
Versatile and Easy to Use
Busy teachers want tech that’s intuitive and easy to use. ViewSonic ViewBoards get them up and going quickly with a plug-and-play set up. A host of connectivity options enables the use of a variety of digital devices. Quickly connect to a PC, laptop, or tablet to begin benefiting from the expansive universe of online educational apps and content. Inputs include HDMI for connecting to high-definition content sources, plus USB, DVI, and VGA ports.
ViewBoard Software Provides Tools for Effective Teaching
Engage students, promote interaction, and achieve improved learning outcomes. ViewBoard software lets you easily write, highlight, edit, and transform documents and images on-screen in real-time. ViewBoard also offers screen recording, magnification, and spotlight functionality to further enhance classroom learning and distance education. For added security, and ease-of-use, myViewBoard.com is your digital whiteboard in the cloud.
ViewSchool Portal Offers Easy Training and PD
Time-pressed teachers benefit from training to help them maximize their effective use of ViewSonic classroom tools. ViewSonic’s ViewSchool portal provides technology, tools, and training to help educators bring the latest learning advantages to their classroom, school or district.
Free membership brings easy access to special pricing, technology selection assistance, and professional development options that include self-guided videos and customized live online and onsite training. Alice Keeler’s education technology videos illustrate how to incorporate the Google Classroom with an interactive whiteboard.