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The Electronic Whiteboard: An Interactive Tool for Classroom and Boardroom

An Introduction to the Electronic Whiteboard

Twenty years ago, a whiteboard was standard in meeting rooms and classrooms across the country. We could draw a few things, make some notes, and erase them when we were done. Now, with electronic whiteboards or smartboards, things have changed.

Now presenters, teachers, and others can put on multimedia presentations, turn their whiteboard into a giant touchscreen computer, teleconference across the globe, store and share information effortlessly, or actively engage kids in the learning process with these interactive screens.

In this article, you can learn about the advantages of an electronic whiteboard, get some tips on choosing one, and find some well-regarded models as well.

The Power of Electronic Whiteboards

Electronic whiteboards are perfect in both classrooms and meeting rooms. These devices make saving, storing, and sharing information effortless. In addition, they can turn a whiteboard into a huge touch screen computer essentially. They give users access to their PC and applications remotely from the board.

In classrooms, they capture and sustain the attention of kids. They allow for interactive learning and give teachers access to a huge number of resources with the touch of a finger or electronic pen. Teachers can print handouts, include video in their teaching, and post assignments, a syllabus, and more online where kids can access it anytime. Some offer software that can save time in planning lessons and allow an instructor to plan an entire multimedia presentation around a given topic.

Businesses can use these interactive whiteboards to save time and money as well. They can be used for worldwide teleconferencing. They can assure that all participants receive the same information and can cut down on preparation time since handouts don't have to be produced ahead of time. In fact, paper can be reduced by sharing all of the information electronically.

In all cases, electronic whiteboards are easy to use. They offer intuitive controls and provide the remote control necessary to make presenting and teaching an easier job.

Buying Tips

If you, your business, or school are considering investing in an electronic whiteboard there are features you should consider:

  • Size
    Clearly, if you'll be in front of a class or group of professionals or workers, you'll want to be sure the board is of sufficient size to be viewed by all.
  • Connections
    Some of these boards offer wireless connectivity, others offer only wired connections. If you want to connect to other devices, such as an audio player for instance, you'll need the right type of connectors. When connecting with your computer, you'll also want to be sure it's compatible with your operating system.
  • Mount
    Some of these interactive whiteboards can be mounted on the wall, clearly, this can save some space. Stands are another option, and many are wheeled, making them more portable/versatile. The stands are often purchased separately.
  • Input
    If you want the most flexibility, a multi-touch board will be preferable to a surface with simple touch technology. Multi-touch can allow more than one person to write simultaneously on the board. In addition, it allows pinching, zooming, and so forth.

    Some of these electronic whiteboards allow input by electronic pen. Others allow you to also use your fingers or even just a dry erase marker and eraser.
  • Printer
    These board generally allow the user to save information and images on the board, store it, share it, and print it. Some will even come with an integrated printer.
  • Software
    For optimal performance, consumers need to consider the software that comes with the board. This is where much of the functionality really comes into the picture. For instance, businesses may want software that helps them organize and store documents. A document manager and document viewer can help. They may want software that provides them the ability to teleconference easily and to use their business-oriented applications. A school, on the other hand, will want access to teaching oriented tools that can help instructors put together lessons and so forth. Simple things like being able to highlight and to magnify sections of the screen are important too.

Panasonic Panaboard

Panasonic has a line of electronic whiteboards; the Panaboard. The UB5815 comes with a built-in printer, TWAIN, and print drivers that allow the user to scan the board and, with the press of a button, print the information on the board. The software includes a document manager and document viewer that allows users to file and distribute materials easily. They can save BMP, TIFF, JPG, PNG, and PDF formats. This interactive board can be wall mounted or used with a floor stand and offers USB connectivity.

The 5315 is a space saver, and measures 50"x 35" . It comes with an integral printer as well. The UBT880 offers a multi-touch 77" (diagonal) surface that allows up to 3 people to write simultaneously on the board. Either a finger or an electronic pen can be used. It offers remote PC operation, 2 USB hubs, built-in speakers, and an optional wireless kit.

Another interactive whiteboard from Panasonic is the UB5838C. It offers a color scanning system that allows users to scan PDF or JPEG information/images without the need for drivers. Information can be scanned to a USB or SD memory card and can easily be distributed electronically. It's Windows and Mac compatible.

The UB8325 also offers a built-in printer and an electronic pen that can be used like a mouse. Strokes can be recorded, saved, and replayed as needed. Of course, it offers remote control of your computer and Windows applications. You can save, send, and print information as well as hold real-time global teleconferences using Microsoft NetMeeting software.

A Closer Look at the Panasonic Panaboard UBT880

PolyVision TS620

This PolyVision electronic whiteboard a wired connection to your computer. There are wireless versions available as well. This model measures 65" x 43". It features a low gloss surface that improves visibility when used with a projector. The whiteboard has a resistive sensor for touch screen capabilities. It works with whiteboard markers, your finger, and erasers. Users can connect up to 4 whiteboards to a single computer if desired.

Users can capture, save, upload, e-mail or print notes, and photos to share and review at any time. Using it with a projector allows users to project multimedia presentations and provide an interactive experience as it functions like a very large touchscreen computer and allows you to work within various third-party applications.

This electronic whiteboard has 8,000 x 8,000 resolution and supports both Windows and Mac operating systems.

A Closer Look at the PolyVision TS Series Electronic Whiteboard

Quartet IdeaShare Q8600

This electronic whiteboard comes with software, a stylus/wireless mouse, electronic pens, dry erase markers, USB cable, and accessory tray. It offers USB connectivity to your PC and allows you to print or save notes and images on your PC or handheld device and to share those items live via the internet. It essentially becomes a touch-sensitive computer when used in conjunction with an LCD projector for interactive presentations. Users can host free collaborative web meetings for up to 25 remote participants or conduct classes.

The long-lasting porcelain surface minimizes projector reflection for greater visibility and PC control from the whiteboard makes your work easier. It's compatible with Windows, Mac, and Palm operating systems.

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IdeaMax R5-1000

This interactive whiteboard offers a low gloss magnetic porcelain surface that's warranted for 50 years. (Product has a 3-year warranty) It uses infrared finger touch technology to let you interact and control your computer with your fingertips. (both USB and wireless connections available) Users can save and share notes, e-mail them, and more. The software allows you to highlight, choose responses, draw, make notes, illustrate key points using an eraser, dry erase marker, or your fingers.

With a 91" x 51" surface (79" x 45" projection area) and 16:9 format, it's ideal to use with classrooms and large meetings as well. This Windows device allows you to use your own software or the IDEA Learning Systems built-in tools which include functions for image capture, a screen recorder, on-screen keyboard, protractor, triangle rulers, rulers, a compass, magnifier, and much more.

Numonics Intelliboard

With a 77" diagonal, durable hard laminate surface, this electronic whiteboard offers plenty of space for displaying information and multimedia presentations. It connects to a PC with USB or optional wireless. Using the electronic pen, users can control their computer from the board, write, draw over projected images, annotate in color, highlight, as well as cut and paste images and save and distribute information electronically.

In fact, it provides dual pen functionality which means that 2 students can write on the board simultaneously. Teachers can download free internet content, run digital video clips, open files and more in front of the class without going to the computer. It comes with the Encyclopedia Brittanica Ultimate Reference Suite DVD and a limited lifetime warranty on the writing surface.

A Closer Look at the Numonics Intelliboard Electronic Whiteboard

© 2011 Christine Mulberry


KenWu from Malaysia on April 21, 2011:

Can't deny that an electronic whiteboard is useful for both business and education but they do not come cheap.

Blair Stover on January 18, 2011:

Electronic white boards are great. They are perfect for business and in the class room. It is also a great way for people to interact and learn the material better. Great and interesting hub!

Ms._Info from New Jersey on January 14, 2011:

Although we never had one of these at my school when I was younger, interactive whiteboards are present in most of the classrooms at my son's school. They are indeed a great learning tool.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on January 07, 2011:

As a former science instructor, I would have enjoyed using this as an instructional aid for student learning and understanding.

Gustave Kilthau from USA on January 06, 2011:

mulberry - Good article about interesting products. One time a group of us used a service (both free and for sale) that provided a virtual white board over the Internet. The white board appeared on the computer screens of up to about 200 or so participants. As I recollect, the service was provided by ""

Gus :-)))

Susan Deppner on January 06, 2011:

Very cool technology! I've always loved white boards and had one for our homeschool. An electronic whiteboard would be so much fun!

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