Alternative to an Interactive Whiteboard

On a number of occasions I have made a variety of negative comments about Interactive Whiteboards and the fact that they now represent an old technology yet still seem to take pride of place at conferences such as the GESS event in Dubai every year.   They also seem to be almost a standard item being installed in brand new schools being built in the UAE without any real consideration for the cost and impact.   I suppose 140 interactive whiteboards pale into insignificance when you are building a brand new school for 2000 or 3000 students.     I strongly believe interactive whiteboards have had their day, and in all honesty I don’t believe they ever truly lived up to the hype which surrounded them.   Now despite being very negative towards interactive whiteboards I haven’t made many comments with regards possible alternative ideas and thoughts so I thought it was about time to correct this oversight.   Given below are a couple of items which I would purchase ahead of an interactive whiteboard.

1) Apple TV and an iPad per teacher

Now a lot of schools are going down the road of 1:1 however not every school can afford to implement this and the cost is certainly more than an interactive whiteboard.   Instead schools could provide an iPad for each teacher and classrooms all with a data projector and apple TV.   This will cost less than the interactive whiteboard and provides the teacher with flexibility in that they are no longer tied to the from of the classroom in order to present or in order to get student involvement.    In addition the iPad provides teachers with access to an eco-system filled with useful and interesting Apps for use in teaching and learning plus also provides opportunities to capture individual or group learning and share it with the full class.   This is only scratching the surface of what an iPad and AppleTv can bring to the class.

2) i3Lighthouse

Came across this only recently.   Its a projection device with interactivity however it projects onto the floor rather than a wall.    Students can then interact and manipulate the projected image.   The beauty in this device is it mobility as it can be moved around the classroom unlike a fixed data projector given all it needs is a flat surface to project on.   I can see plenty of opportunities to take one into a sports hall or multi purpose room.    It is also perfect for those younger students including those in foundation stages as the height of display boards even where they are height adjustable is always limiting however with projection being on the floor students can access the whole area of the display.   I also feel that floor projection is more in line with the habits of young children playing in groups sat on the floor and therefore is more suitable that wall based projection.

3) Two Screens

If you are saving money by not purchasing an interactive whiteboard then why not purchase an additional data projector or display screen.   With two screens you can provide the learning materials via one screen and a back channel for students via the other.    For example the second screen could show twitterfontana focussing on a specific hashtag for the subject or group with students encouraged to tweet feedback or questions via the hashtag to the display.    This allows the teacher to identify emerging ideas plus also common misconceptions or difficulties the students are having as the lesson is progressing.    A second screen could also be used to allow students to develop a mind map of concepts, key words, etc as new content is being delivered.    Another option might be to use the second screen to allow student to indicate their confidence in their own understanding of the content being taught possibly using google forms to gather this feedback.


Now the above are just three possible ideas which could be used rather than spending money on an interactive whiteboard.   Some people at this point will be wanting to point out the success they have with interactive whiteboards and I am sure they are correct however in general they are expensive and seldom effectively utilized or at least for only a limited period of the year.   If they really are needed then deploy a small number to key areas of the school and save the rest of your money to implement some of the ideas above or similar other ideas.


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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