Do IWBs differ? - Drumcondra Education Centre - Interactive Whiteboards

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Do IWBs differ?

Interactive Whiteboards
CBI Interactive Whiteboard Project - DEC, ICS, CESI

(In case you arrive at this page via an Internet Search, click here to get to the CBI Project Homepage)

Do Interactive Whiteboards Differ? This section looks at Software, Licensing and Hardware.

A major starting point is the interface device: do you use a Pen (Stylus) or Finger Tips ...either Pen or Finger ...or Fingers i.e. are there multi-user options?

For most users, the difference in the CBI software is what is most obvious. All will have Resize, Reposition and Rotate options (the "three Rs of IWB", David Kearney). I would expect to see

  • Regular Shapes
  • Pens, Highlighters and Erasers
  • Some 'magic pen' effect board, for example, does not allow for the 'Erase and Reveal' effect in that the user cannot contrast a 'tippex' colour against the background!
  • Option to Hyperlink external websites, to Sounds etc.
  • Locking
  • Layering
  • Insert Media (Pictures, Sounds, Videos)
  • Screen recording/playback
  • Screenshot capture
I also look for

  • Gallery ...and, if possible, one that is Searchable
  • Free-hand, irregular Shapes ...that can be Filled
  • Hand-writing and/or Shape Recognition

Just a few have the ability to show correct/incorrect answers via bounce-back effect (although you can work around this by placing Objects in front or behind other objects) ...and still fewer have the ability to set Animation paths ...and a few can record Sound directly

I would expect to be able to import other files (typically PowerPoints but, very importantly, support for the 'Common File Format')

Note that software versions are regularly updated, so make sure you are using the latest version (usually supplied free to registered users)

Licensing for CBI Software::

SMART Notebook licensing is not a direct 'one board - one license' model: the software may be used on any 'reasonable' number of computers, particularly in the context of work in preparation for use on the SMARTboard itself.

Where SMART Notebook software is used on a non-SMART board, a separate "Competitive Product Software Licence" can be purchased

For details, visit

Promethean typically provide Five licences with each board ...but these are not for concurrent use. 'ActivInspire Personal Edition' is also available to download from the Promethean ...note that this is provided for 'free' use on non-Promethean Boards. Licensing details for ActivInspire are at,_V1.6,_September_2011_-_Final_(English_-_US)_-_Professional.pdf

A number of Boards are supplied with their own proprietory software, augmented in some cases with Easiteach Next Generation software.

With Easiteach, it may be installed on the same number of computers as the number of licences you have purchased. As a teacher, you may only install the Software at home if you have purchased 'teacher home-use' licences. If you purchase 25 (Primary) or 50 (Secondary) licences of any Easiteach product, your licence is automatically extended to be a site licence.

Easiteach Lite is a free download for Students from the Download Page at

Of course, you could also have a look at the free Open Sankore from

Boards differ in terms of their Hardware

  • Cambridge-Hitachi claims to have the fastest response times
  • Promethean uses a tough, melamine surface: works with PC and Mac, "passive"
  • SMART 680 uses a touch-sensitive membrane (although other versions of SMART use a 'hardened glass'): works with PC and Mac; "resisitive"

Hardware Specifications for the Cambridge-Hitachi Board: ...Hitachi goes up to 'three users' in its Trio series

Hardware Specifications for the SMART Board:

The hard-coated polyester surface is tear proof, optimized for projection, compatible with dry-erase markers and easily cleaned with whiteboard cleaner.
USB cable: Connect the SMART Board interactive whiteboard to your computer (DK: no separate power supply required).
Touch system Write, erase and perform mouse functions with your finger, a pen or an eraser – you need no proprietary tools
Hardware Specs. for a Range of SMARTboards can be downloaded from:

Warranty The interactive whiteboard has a five-year limited equipment warranty upon registration. See warranty document for details.

Resolution Touch resolution is approximately 4000 × 4000
Digitizing Technology Analog resistive

Hardware Specifications for Promethean's ACTIVboard: - single user ....or - multi-user

What do teachers in other countries think of the different boards? Follow this link to read what some Foundation Stage Teachers have said about SMART and Promethean on the Foundation Stage Discussion Forum: Dates back to 2006 ...whoops!

Multi-user? How about Promethean's six-user ActivTable? ... or SMART's 'interactive learning centre'

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