Interactive Whiteboards: Toys or Tools?

An interactive whiteboard (IWB) is a large touch screen surface that controls a computer.  Think REALLY big iPad.  It allows presenters and participants to interact with the screen using their hands or with special writing pens.

Anything that can be shown on a computer can be shown on an IWB except that you can draw and write directly on the screen and your work can be saved and shared digitally.

Take a look at this funny 4-minute video available from SMART Technologies.  Your company’s IWB capabilities may differ, but you’ll get the gist of what is possible.

 

So, what can you do with an IWB?  

  • Edit documents in a way that is familiar to you – with a pen and “ink” while saving the edits as an image file and emailing them as needed
  • Give a thoroughly impressive presentation to clients while standing next to an IWB, easily moving from one document to another, integrating (and notating) pictures, and saving and emailing them the notes that were taken on the Board
  • Anything you’ve ever done with a flip chart and a marker you can do on an IWB
  • Anything you’ve ever done with a laptop and a projector you can do on an IWB.
  • Brainstorm as a group by writing on the board, easily moving and editing content, all while working side-by-side (or even remotely) with colleagues
  • Do you think better with a pen in hand?  Stand in front of an IWB and write, erase, and rearrange your handwritten notes to your heart’s content.  Standing while working is reported to be better for your health and mental functioning anyway.

 

Are they awkward to use?

When you use an IWB, your finger is the mouse pointer.  So, unintentional or stray touches will cause something to happen – just like random mouse clicks do.  Because of this, some people say they are awkward, but others say that if you can use a PC you can use an IWB.  Like anything, I believe it will take some hands-on use to get comfortable with it.  Think about the first time you used a touch screen on a mobile device – it takes time to develop the right “touch.”

So, although interactive whiteboards are definitely fun to use, they offer collaborative possibilities that far exceed your standard flip chart or even laptop/projector combinations.

 






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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.

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