Whether you prefer to call them a Smartboard or an interactive whiteboard, a digital board can be a significant part of almost any business if used correctly. Many people grew up being taught with a classic Smartboard, and unlike a regular whiteboard that acts as a drawing surface, a Smart whiteboard can have all kinds of interesting features applied to it.
What is a Smartboard?
An interactive Smartboard is, in most cases, a large flat board that acts as a big touch screen, like the ones you would see on your phone. When combined with a projector, they can create a large digital tool for teaching students, presenting data, handling larger images that can’t be easily shown off on a laptop, or plenty of other purposes. Even better, if they are properly-calibrated, the touchscreen can be used to affect whatever is being displayed.
There is a range of different electronic whiteboard options to choose from, and all of them can be slightly different in terms of their design and the features that they offer. However, in terms of educating students (or even older learners in adult classes), a good Smartboard can be invaluable in terms of information and presentation.
Interactive whiteboard designs can have multiple features, with some offering more than others, but the majority of key features will be shared across every electronic whiteboard you can buy. Compared to a normal whiteboard, an electronic version can provide:
- Brightness adjustment options for making information more visible in different light levels.
- Interactive displays that can be used by either the teacher or the students.
- A more durable design that doesn’t need to be physically wiped clean all the time.
- Better visibility and accessibility features like zooming, spotlight lighting, or even a pointer.
On top of that, some of the better interactive whiteboard designs can take things a step further, with features like:
- Less frequent maintenance.
- Multi-touch support, meaning that it can register two touches at once rather than just a single finger poke each time.
- Digital pens, which can be used to ‘draw’ on the whiteboard without leaving an actual mark.
How do they work?
When you set up a smartboard, you aren’t usually setting up an actual screen. Instead, the information you are showing off is from a dedicated projector on the ceiling, meaning that you can feed whatever you want through that projector to change the sets of information you are getting. For example, you might choose to display a full video as part of a lesson, or type something out on your own laptop and transfer it to the board.
Because the information isn’t technically coming from a physical screen, there is a lot of variation in how it can be used, but you will have to calibrate it first. This allows the board to understand where the projector is actually hitting the whiteboard – once you tap the right points to give it an idea of the angle and position, you can use digital pens to ‘draw’ on your data without leaving any real marks.
As you might expect, this means that a Smartboard can fill the role of a standard non-interactive whiteboard without the same limits of having to be wiped clean, needing pens that are compatible with the material, and so on.
Why are they so useful?
Smartboards have been around in various forms for at least a decade now, but they continue to get better and better with every passing year. One thing that all Smartboard designs share is the interactive element: an interactive whiteboard creates a hands-on learning experience that doesn’t require special pens or remotes to use. It is possible to have entire lessons with the students using their fingers to select things on the screen, for example.
This also makes them very low-maintenance, mainly because there are no messes to clean up. However, this also has the side-effect of speeding up lessons: teachers no longer have to write up everything by hand between classes, and students aren’t forced to slowly write up parts of their presentation as they talk. Instead, the projector can just swap to another image or slide.
For those who worry about the environment, there is also a lot of good news in that vein. While a Smartboard does still use electricity, they don’t need paper, ink, or board wipers and erasers. Not only that, but they allow you to display information to an entire class without having to create multiple photocopies or prints of the same document that will only be used once or twice in the entire class.
What can they work with?
Another great point in favour of an interactive whiteboard is that they can work with a range of different tools. Connecting your computer or laptop to the projector seems obvious, but you can also link up cameras, microscopes, USB drives, or even webcams to get a live feed of a space. The simple nature of the design means that there is plenty of flexibility in how you use your electronic whiteboard.
This is mostly due to the projector, but not always. The idea of a Smart whiteboard is so ingrained into specific types of education that resources for them are incredibly easy to find, from databased of lesson plans to full interactive PowerPoints created by teachers who want their students to engage with the board myindigocard directly.
Do they help?
The number one benefit of having a Smartboard, according to most teachers, is student engagement. Whether it is delivering presentations or physically interacting with whatever is on-screen, the board can often be used to get students standing up at the front of the class and exploring something for themselves. Even in the hands of a teacher, displaying information to the entire room can capture their attention very well.
As Smartboard designs continue to get better, there is no telling how far the technology could go and what features could be added, but that is no reason to wait around for something better. In many cases, a Smartboard has been able to improve test scores (or at least increase student attention), and in others, it can become the focal point of certain lesson types or subjects.
Another under-looked benefit is the fact that they are very accessible to people without much software experience. As long as they are already connected, it is very easy to start using one straight away as either a teacher or a student with very little time needed to learn how it works at all.
Should I install one?
If you are able to get a Smart whiteboard installed, then there are not many reasons to refuse one. Prices can vary depending on the model you are looking at, but there are plenty of them out there, and they are getting better than ever before now that technology keeps marching ahead. A Smartboard can end up becoming the central point of your entire classroom and something worth using for every single lesson, so they are incredibly useful to have.
No matter your job, or who you are educating (young students, adult learners, or even people within your company that need training), there are plenty of benefits to the features that a Smartboard can offer, and they are so versatile that they don’t stop being useful even if there is no educating or training left to do.