Types of Interactive Whiteboards
- Interactive whiteboards are gaining popularity in the classroom.little computer specialist image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com
The whiteboard is a digital device consisting of a large display that is connected to a computer and a projector. This configuration serves as the platform for different software technologies that allow users to interact with the display of the whiteboard. The mode of interaction is what typically differentiates the various types of whiteboards. These devices are gaining popularity in education and are often used across all grade levels and subject areas to create interactive hands-on lessons. Popular manufacturers of different types of whiteboards are SMART Technologies, Numonics, Promethean, TouchIT and Mimio.
- Touch-based digital whiteboards use resistive technology that allows the user to send signals from the whiteboard to the computer through simple touch, either by a finger, a stick or some pointing device. These kinds of whiteboards have a membrane on the surface of the board that registers the touch and then sends it back to the computer as a mouse movement. These whiteboards are often favored over others, because using the hand or finger is typically considered a more natural application of the interface. TouchIT Technologies and SMART Technologies are popular manufacturers of these types of whiteboards and sell them in various sizes. They also have the advantage of allowing the digital whiteboard to be used with a dry-erase marker, like any ordinary whiteboard, thus saving valuable space and resources in school classrooms.
- Pen-based interactive whiteboards use electromagnetic technology that interacts with a specially designed pen or stylus to send signals from the whiteboard to the computer. Unlike the touch-based whiteboards, the pen-based devices will respond to a finger or a point stick but will only work with the specific stylus, which is often seen as a disadvantage because of the increased cost associated with the electronic pen. Furthermore, if the stylus is lost, as can often happen in busy school classrooms, the device is not able to function until a new stylus is purchased. However, the advantage of the pen-based whiteboard is the added precision that the stylus provides, which cannot be achieved with the finger.
Portable Ultrasonic Whiteboards
- Portable ultrasonic whiteboards consist of a bar that is secured to an existing non-digital whiteboard or an older interactive whiteboard system. The portable bar projects the image from the computer onto the whiteboard screen, at which point the user can interact with the environment using an electronic pen. These systems are quickly gaining popularity due to cost; they are the most affordable interactive whiteboard solution available on the market. Furthermore, they require minimal installation and can work with an existing whiteboard (or even a wall), thus making them a feasible solution for schools with small budgets. Mimio, Quartet and Hitachi are popular manufacturers of these devices.