Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

A Whiteboardless Whiteboard?

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The interactive whiteboard market, having done so well, is now rife with competition. What does this mean for education? It means better and cheaper products. Do I love my SMARTboard? Absolutely, but there have also been times where I was frustrated with it and wished there were more options out there.

Now the whiteboard itself may be on the way out. Projectors are being developed with technology similar to the way that the X-box Kinect uses cameras to track movement. Essentially, whatever surfaces the projector is projecting on to become a touch-responding surface: a whiteboard sans the whiteboard.

Again, I ask: what does this mean for teachers? It means that setting up an interactive classroom will get easier; you may not have to install a semi-permanent piece of proprietary equipment in your classroom, or wheel it in and spend a tremendous amount of time setting it up. In my opinion, it should also turn up the heat on the companies making interactive whiteboards (SMART, Promethean and others) to make a better and more innovative product.

The cheapest projector that I was able to find with this feature is the Sanyo PLC-WL2503, a projector made especially for schools with great features such as making a 80 inch screen only 34 inches from a surface (ultra- short throw) and being able to color-correct the image if it is projected onto a blackboard or a whiteboard. It still costs around $1800, but that’s still less than an interactive whiteboard and a similarly-equipped non-interactive projector.



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Comments on: "A Whiteboardless Whiteboard?" (2)

  1. Lee,
    There are many other options out there, I suspect. Have you looked into the Mimio strip? Or the many other projectors that turn non-interactive whiteboards or even plain surfaces into touchscreens? Take a look and let all of us — teachers, techies, and teacher-techies — know what you find. Here’s one example: http://us.mimio.com/en-US/Products/MimioTeach-Interactive-System.aspx

  2. Lee Briggs said:

    There are a few other projectors out there, Epson makes the Brightlink and it got a lot of press, but this Sanyo is the first projector with this feature to be less than $2K. I like that that you can take out of the box, and without needing any other hardware make your board interactive. I think that you could weigh the merits of one product over another until the cows come home. but I think it is interesting that motion capture and touch screen technologies are becoming more and more a standard feature- you almost need a Wii style controller to navigate the menus of televisions now, and we have kindergartners that are so used to touch screens that our monitors are full of fingerprints from attempts to “click” things. How long until the “brand” is pointless, when we eventually expect a projector to have these features built-in?

    Mimio and eBeam both make “attachment style” products, I also hear great things about Promethean and Polyvision boards but I have never used these personally. I think that bringing in any kind of interactive product is a great addition to the classroom, regardless of branding, I think its more important to “get your feet wet” and try something out.

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