Practical Tips when using IWBs - Drumcondra Education Centre - Interactive Whiteboards

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Practical Tips when using IWBs

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)

Tips for Using an Interactive Whiteboard

What room should we use for the Board?
In our Project schools, we have selected any room except the Computer Room! We have used the classroom for Junior Infants, for Fourth Class, for Second Year, the Science Lab, a General Purpose/Meeting Room etc.

What wiring and electrics will we need?
The Data Projector (usually ceiling-mounted) will need an electrical supply in the ceiling. The board will need a power supply, as will the computer, speakers, and optional DVD and AMP system. You may also have a Scanner and Printer, each needing supply. Most Boards connect to the computer via USB. An essential consideration in 'modern' classrooms is internet access. In our CBI schools, we have tried to locate all of the above at the top of the classroom, with computer etc. to one side of the Board.

If a Data Projector is used, how far away should the Projector be from the board?
Further back means a bigger image – this could sometimes be too big! Not all projectors have a Zoom control. In confined classrooms, look for a projector with a short ‘throw’ distance.

If a Data Projector is used, where should the projector be located?
Horizontally, at right angles. Vertically, depends on classroom – but ideally ceiling mounted. (in the latter, the Projector should have a Keystone Correction facility).

Use Short-Throw or Ultra-Short-Throw Projectors ...the latter are positioned directly above the Board.

What happens when the teacher or student gets in the way of the light?
Don’t! Stay out of the direct beam – train teachers and students to avoid looking directly into the light. The Board itself will still work, but the icons etc. may be in your shadow. Some projectors have a dimming feature that can be turned on/off.

Use Short-Throw or Ultra-Short-Throw Projectors to reduce Shadow effects and to reduce the need 'to walk into the beam'

Aren't the Boards or Projectors just too bright?
BECTA recommended 1500 lumens as a general guide for classroom projectors. The boards themselves can have the default background colour set to off-white (however, our CBI students prefer white!)
Avoid Projectors over 1500 lumens! Do not look into (or pass before) the light of the projector. See these articles:

What other Health and Safety issues should I beware of?
For any wired system, cables should be truncked – or at least kept out of open walkways - to avoid tripping, and to avoid wear-and-tear of the cables themselves.

Boards which are portable on a wheeled-stand can be another source for tripping.

Trays for holding markers can scrape against passers-by.

How high should I position the board?
Depends on the age and size of your students (and of your teachers!), and on the type of applications that they run. ‘windowed’ applications will need access to the top of the board, on the other hand a teacher could initiate an application on behalf of the student. Some of the newer systems come on height-adjustable moblie stands, or even on height-adjustable wall-mounted systems. Some teachers of Junior Classes have introduced platforms in front of the board to enable access by young children

What happens if someone moves either the Board or the Data Projector?
You will have to re-run the calibration (although some systems are now appearing which self-calibrate)

Can we self-install the Boards?
Most of the boards come with installation guides. One issue (which initially we thought was a hardware problem) we have come across is that the lower fixings of the SMART Board are intended to secure the Board in place and provide greater stability (they don't require excessive fixing). If you do over-tighten these lower fixings, you will find that the Calibration/Orientation is lost on certain parts of the board. We also found that turning on the Mains Power to a Dell (in particular) Laptop to such an over-tightened SMART Board seemed to act as an Earth (via the USB cable to the board). As I have said, there are no problems at all when you don't over-tighten the fixings. Thanks to FusionTech for their help in resolving this.

We seem to have a Display problem - the screen on our Laptop is not exactly the same as the projected image on the Whiteboard
New laptops are transitioning towards 16:9 aspect ratios (native 1280 x 800 resolution) and many entry level projectors remain with a 4:3 aspect ratio (native 1024 x 768 resolution). Most new laptops now support dual display outputs concurrently. To enable dual outputs at different resolutions, go to the laptop's 'Control Panel' or right click on your desktop, select properties, click on secondary display and change the resolution by dragging the screen resolution bar to 1024 x 768 and click' apply. Please note that the 'extend my Windows desktop' option when the primary display is selected needs to be disabled. (thanks again to FusionTech)

What subjects are the boards most likely to be used for?
In the U.K., Maths, Science and Literacy are the classrooms initially targeted. However, every subject area (Music, Art etc.) has potential.

What teacher(s) will use the board?
The most important question! In our CBI project, the initial group of volunteer teachers tended to be ICT-skilled; however, their colleagues have all been greatly attracted by the board, and new users of technology are starting to emerge in this environment. The teachers cover the entire curriculum range: from Junior Infants to Leaving Cert. French - this is not an exclusive ICT nor Maths medium.

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