General operation and use
A device driver is usually installed on the attached computer so that the interactive whiteboard can act as a Human Input Device (HID), like a mouse. The computer’s video output is connected to a digital projector so that images may be projected on the interactive whiteboard surface.
The user then calibrates the whiteboard image by matching the position of the projected image in reference to the whiteboard using a pointer as necessary. After this, the pointer or other device may be used to activate programs, buttons and menus from the whiteboard itself, just as one would ordinarily do with a mouse. If text input is required, user can invoke an on-screen keyboard or, if the whiteboard software provides for this, utilize handwriting recognition. This makes it unnecessary to go to the computer keyboard to enter text.
Uses for interactive whiteboards may include:
- Running softwarethat is loaded onto the connected PC, such as a web browsers or other software used in the classroom.
- Capturing and saving notes written on a whiteboard to the connected PC
- Capturing notes written on a graphics tabletconnected to the whiteboard
- Controlling the PC from the white board using click and drag, markupwhich annotates a program or presentation
- Using OCRsoftware to translate cursive writing on a graphics tablet into text
- Using an Audience Response Systemso that presenters can poll a classroom audience or conduct quizzes, capturing feedback onto the whiteboard
In some classrooms, interactive whiteboards have replaced traditional whiteboards or flipcharts, or video/media systems such as a DVD player and TV combination. Even where traditional boards are used, the IWB often supplements them by connecting to a school network digital video distribution system. In other cases, IWBs interact with online shared annotation and drawing environments such as interactive vector based graphical websites.
Many companies and projects now focus on creating supplemental instructional materials specifically designed for interactive whiteboards. Electrokite out of Boston, MA, for example, will have the first complete curriculum for schools and districts.
One recent use of the IWB is in shared reading lessons. Mimic books, for instance, allow teachers to project children’s books onto the interactive whiteboard with book-like interactivity.
Dixons City Academy in the North of England was the first non college or university learning environment to make use of interactive whiteboards after the school’s then principal Sir John Lewis showed a keen interest in the developing technology. An interactive whiteboard can now be found in every classroom of the school.
Integration with a learner response system
Some manufacturers also provide classroom response systems as an integrated part of their interactive whiteboard products. Handheld ‘clickers’ operating via Infrared or Radio signals, for example, offer basic multiple choice and polling options. More sophisticated clickers offer text and numeric responses and can export an analysis of student performance for subsequent review.
By combining classroom response with an interactive whiteboard system, teachers can present material and receive feedback from students in order to direct instruction more effectively or else to carry out formal assessments. For example, a student may both solve a puzzle involving math concepts on the interactive whiteboard and later demonstrate his or her knowledge on a test delivered via the classroom response system. Some classroom response software can organize and develop activities and tests aligned with State standards.
Some of the benefits of using interactive whiteboards include:
Group interaction. Interactive whiteboards promotes collaboration among students and group discussion and participation. They can be an effective tool for brainstorming due to the fact that notes can be taken on the board and saved to be shared and distributed to students later.