Last summer in the Kilkenny Education Centre, a course about using Interactive Whiteboards was held. It quickly filled up with a total of 24 participants. As part of this course, teachers were encouraged to try out 5 types of Interactive Whiteboards without the disturbance of salespeople bamboozling them. The idea was that teachers themselves would be “thrown into the deep end” and given tasks that they would have to do in their own classrooms. At the end of 5 days, teachers were asked to fill out a survey.
Before giving this course, I had been a huge promoter of portable interactive whiteboards. The main reasoning for this is that they were cheap and I could take it anywhere I wanted. I could not understand why schools would fork out sometimes over €5,000 for one Interactive Whiteboard when I could get two or three for the same price. As part of the course, I was interested in seeing why this was the case. I also decided that the teachers who would partake in the course would be a random selection with varying experiences.
The course itself was successful and as teachers had the opportunity to use different types of board they were surprised by the similarities between them. Many had heard of only one or two types of board and most were surprised by the vast range of prices between them. I had to set my prejudices and biases aside and watch to see how teachers integrated with these technologies.
The results of the survey would take far too much space on this article so the full survey and report can be seen on http://www.anseo.net/blog2/?p=210 . However, to summarise, the following findings were made:
- Both Smart and Promethean Interactive Whiteboards were seen as the best solutions according to the teachers.
- Promethean’s board was voted as the easiest and most child-friendly.
- Promethean’s colourful interface was seen as a huge motivator.
- The Smart board was voted as best value for money.
- Shadows were the annoyance that put most participants off other whiteboards so a fixed ceiling mounted projector was deemed essential.
- Support and backup are seen as very important.
- Handwriting recognition was seen as essential with Promethean’s being voted the best.
- Gadgets such as maths tools, stopwatches, etc. were seen as an important part of an Interactive Whiteboard package.
The week opened my eyes to what teachers, with no technical experience, go through everyday when the “latest gadget” is put in front of them. In between publishing the survey and writing this follow-up article, I have had both positive and negative feedback all of which were addressed in my web site. Two companies who sell these boards arranged to meet me to discuss my findings and I hope that the survey continues to be useful to the various companies who offer their solutions and useful for teachers who wish to go down the route of buying Interactive Whiteboards.