Monday, August 17, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards - What no chalk and dusters?

When I attended school, the teacher threw the duster at students talking and not paying attention. Then there were whiteboards with colour and magnetic items attached increasing interest but at the end of the day,all the lessons work was wiped away.

Now I was impressed with the Interactive Whiteboards, especially the engineering design program where the teacher can just draw the components and the computer recognises the activity and can run the series. Just the colour and movement on the screen would engage any students attention no matter what age. Plus the ability to save, email and print additional notes taken during the lesson, giving teachers flexibility in their delivery of materials to students.

In the quest to find out more I contacted Electroboard Solutions Pty Ltd at St Leonards in NSW who are the Australian agents for SMARTBoards. Gerry from sales was kind enough to give me a few moments of his time. SMARTBoard was the first invented interactive whiteboard and due to its longivity has the most development and refining, its software is SMARTNotebook, longest developed, supportive and easy to use. SMARTboards come in 3 sizes 48, 66 and 77 inch a board only costs from $3000 for 48 inch to $5500 for 77 inch. For instillation and use there is a requirement for the following - SMARTboard + speakers, resident PC or laptop plus a data projector either ceiling or wall above the board mounted. Each component has choices as to brand and use an price is dependant on this. Currently SMARTboards are being installed in Queensland schools and they have 85% of the Australian market share. Currently and most popular are education bundles where schools install SMARTboard packages in 10 classrooms of 77inch SMARTboard with speakers and ceiling projectors for the cost of $7000 each. (plus a new resident PC approx $2000) Making the 10 classroom cost approximately $100,000-00. The current government support funding is available via Building the Education Revolution and Schools of Tomorrow programs. A huge range of resources exist on the Internet to assist teachers with tutorials, lesson plans etc see

The cost seems high and are these facilities only going to be available to well off private schools? Also if schools are not installing in every classroom, what is the criteria for choosing which rooms get a SMARTboard? Are students demanding interactivity to the extent that teaching will be via the use of virtual software suits with heavy use of the Internet and textbooks will be become a thing of the past?

I have yet to see an Interactive Whiteboard in action and would be very interested to hear from anyone who has had the experience. Regards Elizabeth

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