Interactive whiteboards are those clever devices that you have seen at the front of many classrooms and university teaching rooms. the idea behind this post is to give you some basic information so you can enter your teaching practice well informed and ready with the correct questions. Firstly, I refer to interactive whiteboards (IWB) not Smartboards because IWB is the generic name whilst Smartboard refers to a specific make – think Vacuum Cleaner not Hoover. This distinction is particularly important as different whiteboards make use of different software and as such are not compatible with each other.
At a very basic level, an IWB is simply a big expensive mouse – it a allows the user to move the pointer around the screen and to make selections. Anything you can do on screen using an IWB you should also be able to do with a mouse, touch pad or graphics tablet. When used in conjunction with appropriate software the IWB allows the user to present ideas etc to the audience. Some boards require the use of special pens or styluses whilst others are operated by the users finger.
In schools there are a number of different boards but some are more commonly found than others.
Smartboards – These boards are the most popular in Northamptonshire schools. They are operated using either the users finger or a plastic pen that contains no electronics. This is commonly used with SmartNotes software. These are the boards that we use at the university and the software is available on the School of Education computers. It is also available for you to downlaod and use on your own computers but it must not be used on boards other than Smartboards.
RM Classboard – Now discontinued. Commonly used with RM Easiteach Software
Promethean – These hard surface boards are used with a special electronic pen and commonly use Active Inspire or ActivePrimary Software.
Others – including Hitatchi Cleverboard and many unbranded boards – software and reliability varies.