What are IWBs? - Drumcondra Education Centre - Interactive Whiteboards

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What are 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)

Interactive Whiteboards are beginning to appear in Irish schools. These boards work in conjunction with your PC (or laptop) and Data Projector. We refer to them in this project as Cláir Bhána Idirghníomhacha (CBIs) rather than the more usual IWBs - thanks to Seaghan and Deirble for their help! The Irish version of CBI is pronounced "Claw-ir Vawna Iddir-gen-eev-ocka"

The first board of this type to be brought to the market was the SMART Board in 1991 (having been developed in 1986). It seems to be the world market leader. The market covers both business and education. However, this Project will illustrate that SMART Boards are just one brand, and that others have a real role to play in Irish classrooms. This project, in addition, will be using Promethean, Cambridge-Hitachi, InterWrite, 3M/eBeam and Mimio boards.

There are three physical components plus one other essential: the Data Projector, the Board and a Computer (mostly PC but some systems also support Apple), while the key ingredient is the Software that drives the particular system.

The boards work by sending information to and from a computer, typically via USB (replacing the older Serial connection, although BlueTooth is now also available). The 'input device' is usually a stylus or, in the case of SMART, a finger-tip. The changing data is displayed back on the Board via the Data Projector.

The boards will work without a Data Projector - but neither you nor your students will be able to see anything! In this situation the system will still copy any work you do on the Board.

The system will work without the Board being turned on - but your interaction will be via the computer's mouse: the Board in this case will be an expensive projection screen.

Nothing will happen without the computer being turned on! Although the board can sometimes be used as an ordinary classroom whiteboard, with dry-erase markers (some boards are more robust in this regard than others).

Many of the Board systems now come with (sometimes optional) tablets that can be passed around a classroom for students and from which the information on the Board can be manipulated.

Recent developments include a 'one touch' power-on button, to start all three hardware components. Other developments include rear-projection and portable units (where the data projector is housed inside a large trolley, and uses a mirror system to shine through the front-mounted board), and indeed boards which are 'hardware only' (they come only with basic OS drivers) which allow you (subject to licensing of course) to use other-board software.

Also available is generic interactive whiteboard software (such as Easyteach from RM) that will run on all brands of boards.

There are solutions available to schools which already have invested in a computer and data projector for use with their existing classroom whiteboards. Attachments can be bought which add a high level of interactivity to the system (included here are the Mimio and eBeam products)


To see some videos of whiteboards in action, have a look at the 'Gallery' material of the 'CBI Project' (video.html); also the Training section of this site (training_materials.html) has links to videos of specific boards.

The INTO (as part of their NCTE-supported Online eLearning course) have a 10-minute video clip “How the Whiteboard Works” at http://blip.tv/file/249744 with a second clip “Using The Whiteboard In The Classroom” at http://blip.tv/file/249685. Note that 'blip.tv' is "unclassified" in Schools' Broadband, and so is not accessible in most schools.

RTE's Nationwide programme visited Blackwater Communtiy School in Lismore, Co Waterford in 2006 to see their Whiteboards in action: http://www.rte.ie/ ...but the clip seems to be gone now :-(

There is a link on http://atireland.ie/inclusive/development/index.htm to a video from one of our SMART courses (note that the video is a 3.5 MB non-streaming download)

Adding an extra layer of interactivity to a whiteboard is the “Cool Computer Program” [or “Assist Sketch Understanding System and Operation”] from MIT. A video clip is available on YouTube (and therefore not accessible in most schools) at http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=d7eGypGOlOc. This software demontrates the effect of gravity on moving objects. The board they are using seems to be an 'eBeam'

Another teacher (Tom Hopper from Mich., USA) does a demo of a SMARTboard on YouTube (again not accessible in most schools) at http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=DjdNPMZJbLs

There is a large collection of Whiteboard (mostly SMARTboard) clips from all around the world on YouTube. Follow the links that appear to the right of the Teacher Clip above. They are also using Promethean Boards in Brazil

An interesting one, which puts the case for and against whiteboards, is “Whiteboards: Boon or Boondoggle?” Part One (10 minutes) at http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=pbKDhNfyFVg and Part 2 (6 minutes) at http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=MPlshkkM3A8

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