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An interactive whiteboard (IWB), is a large interactive display that connects to a computer. A projector projects the computer's desktop onto the board's surface where users control the computer using a pen, finger, stylus, or other device. The board is typically mounted to a wall or floor stand.
They are used in a variety of settings, including classrooms at all levels of education, in corporate board rooms and work groups, in training rooms for professional sports coaching, in broadcasting studios, and others.
The interactive whiteboard industry was expected to reach sales of US$1 billion worldwide by 2008; one of every seven classrooms in the world was expected to feature an interactive whiteboard by 2011 according to market research by Futuresource Consulting. In 2004, 26% of British primary classrooms had interactive whiteboards. The Becta Harnessing Technology Schools Survey 2007 indicated that 98% of secondary and 100% of primary schools had IWBs. By 2008 the average numbers of interactive whiteboards rose in both primary schools (18 compared with just over six in 2005, and eight in the 2007 survey) and secondary schools (38, compared with 18 in 2005 and 22 in 2007).
Uses for interactive whiteboards may include:
An interactive whiteboard (IWB) device is connected to a computer via USB or a serial port cable, or else wirelessly via Bluetooth or a 2.4 GHz wireless. In the latter case WEP and WPA/PSK security is available.
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 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 provides for this, utilize handwriting recognition. This makes it unnecessary to go to the computer keyboard to enter text.
Thus, an IWB emulates both a mouse and a keyboard. The user can conduct a presentation or a class almost exclusively from the whiteboard.
In addition, most IWBs are supplied with software that provides tools and features specifically designed to maximize interaction opportunities. These generally include the ability to create virtual versions of paper flipcharts, pen and highlighter options, and possibly even virtual rulers, protractors, and compasses—instruments that would be used in traditional classroom teaching.
The majority of IWBs sold globally involve one of four forms of interaction between the user and the content projected on the whiteboard. These are an infrared scan technology, a resistive, touch-based board, an electromagnetic pen and associated software, and an ultrasonic pen.
An infrared interactive whiteboard is a large interactive display that connects to a computer and projector. The board is typically mounted to a wall or floor stand. Movement of the user's finger, pen, or other pointer over the image projected on the whiteboard is captured by its interference with infrared light at the surface of the whiteboard. When the whiteboard surface is pressed, software triangulates the location of the marker or stylus. Infrared IWBs may be made of any material, no dry-erase markers are involved, and may be found in many settings, including various levels of classroom education, corporate boardrooms, training or activity rooms for organizations, professional sports coaching facilities, and broadcasting studios.
A touch-based IWB also involves a simple pointing device. In this case, the material of the board is important. In the most common resistive system, a membrane stretched over the surface deforms under pressure to make contact with a conducting backplate. The touch point location can then be determined electronically and registered as a mouse event. For example, when a finger is pressed on the surface, it is registered as the equivalent of the left mouse click. Again, such a board requires no special instruments. This leads to the claim of resistive systems manufacturers that such a whiteboard is easy and natural to use. It is, however, heavily dependent on the construction of the board itself.
An electromagnetic pen-based interactive whiteboard involves an array of wires embedded behind the solid board surface that interacts with a coil in the stylus tip to determine the horizontal and vertical coordinates of the stylus. The pen itself usually is passive, i.e., it contains no batteries or other power source; it alters the electrical signals produced by the board. For instance, when close to the surface of the board, the mouse pointer can be sensed, giving the board "mouse-over" capabilities. When it is pressed in against the board in one way, the board activates a switch in the pen to signal a mouse click to the computer; pressed in another way, contact with the board signals a click of the right mouse-button. Like a scaled-up version of a graphics tablet used by professional digital artists and designers, an electromagnetic IWB can emulate mouse actions accurately, will not malfunction if a user leans on the board, and can potentially handle multiple inputs.
This technology uses infrared light and ultrasound positioning technology. The technology works in a similar way to lightning in a thunderstorm by computing the time difference between the speed of light and the speed of sound. An infrared IWB is also available in a portable format. After moving the set-up to a new location, the system acquires connection to the computer with a simple re-calibration of the projected image — again using the electronic pen. The device or bar scans a bracketed area (usually 3m by 1.5m, giving a whiteboard that is 110" wide). Typically, multiple brackets can be added, providing for users at different sites to share the same virtual whiteboard.
A portable IR pen-based whiteboard works on a variety of surfaces — an existing whiteboard, a flat wall, even a chalkboard with dry-erase paint, transforms those surface into an interactive whiteboard. No battery is required for USB signal receiver and the unit can be mounted to the ceiling if a permanent solution is required. Made of a tiny and lightweight material, the PIWB is easy to transport.
A Wii-based IR system was invented by Johnny Chung Lee, PhD. in 2007. Lee claimed that the system "[m]akes a technology available to a much wider percentage of the population" (Speaking at TED, April 2008) by using an ordinary Wii remote control as a pointer and the IR camera on the front of the remote control as tracking device sensing light from an IR light pen. Lee produced several videos on YouTube about this system to demonstrate its operability, flexibility, and ease of use, and pointing out its modest price — the most inexpensive part is the infrared LED of the pen. This is an approach with a shallow learning curve since the gaming system is already familiar to many. A large programming support community may be available, both in opensource and commercial offerings.) However, the system cannot be used near direct sunlight, nor can it share the software of manufacturers of the IWB-types already mentioned. Certain considerations about the Bluetooth connection of the light pen also apply. Two lines of sight are involved (the controller and the pen) in the case of rear-projection case. unlike many others.)
An interactive projector IWB involves a CMOS camera built into the projector, so that the projector produces the IWB image, but also detects the position of an active IR light pen when it contacts the surface where the projected image. This solution, developed in 2007 and patented in 2010 by U.S. manufacturer Boxlight, like the other IR whiteboard systems, can suffer from potential problems caused by 'line of sight' between the pen and the projector/receiver and, like them also, does not provide mouse-over capability found in other solutions.
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.
Brief instructional blocks can be recorded for review by students — they will see the exact presentation that occurred in the classroom with the teacher's audio input. This can help transform learning and instruction.
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.
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.
There are now several studies revealing contradictory conclusions about the effect of the use of IWBs is effective on student learning. A compilation of this research is available.
According to the findings of a study conducted by the London Institute of Education with the funding of the DfES evaluated the educational and operational effectiveness of the London Challenge element of the adoption of the use of interactive whiteboards in the London area under a program called "the Schools Whiteboard Expansion project." At Key Stage 3, interactive whiteboards here associated with little significant impact on student performance in Mathematics and English and only a slight improvement Science. In the same schools, at Key Stage 4, use of interactive whiteboards was found to have negative effects for Mathematics and Science, but positive effects for English. The authors cite several possible causes for the Key Stage 4 findings, which include, including: a Type II statistical error, disruption to teaching methods leading to reduced pupil performance when IWBs were installed, or a non-random deployment decision of IWB installation resulting in a skew of the data.
At the same time, there is evidence of improved performance gains with the use of interactive whiteboards. The BECTA (UK) commissioned a study into the impact of Interactive Whiteboards over a two-year period. This study showed a very significant learning gains, particularly with second cohorts of students, where they benefited from the teacher's experience with the device.
Between 2003 and 2004, The DfES Primary Schools Whiteboard Expansion project (PSWE) provided substantial funding to 21 local authorities for the acquisition and use of interactive whiteboards in UK primary schools. The BECTA-sponsored study investigated the impact of this investment with 20 local authorities, using data for 7272 learners in 97 schools.
Variables considered in the research included length of exposure to interactive whiteboard technology, the age of pupils (down to individual birthdays), gender, special needs, entitlement to free schools meals and other socio-economic groupings. The implementation and impacts of the project were evaluated by a team at Manchester Metropolitan University, led by Professor Bridget Somekh. To date it is the largest and longest study conducted into the impact of interactive whiteboards.
The principal finding of this large-scale study was that, "[w]hen teachers have used an interactive whiteboard for a considerable period of time (by the autumn of 2006 for at least two years) its use becomes embedded in their pedagogy as a mediating artefact for their interactions with their pupils, and pupils’ interactions with one another." The authors of the study argued that "mediating interactivity" is a sound concept, offering "a ... theoretical explanation for the way in which the multi-level modelling (MLM) analyses link the length of time pupils have been taught with interactive whiteboards to greater progress in national test scores year on year."
The research showed that interactive whiteboard technology led to consistent gains across all key stages and subjects with increasingly significant impact on the second cohorts, indicating that embedding of the technology into the classroom and teacher experience with the technology are key factors.
Gains were measured in ‘months progress’ against standard measures of attainment over the two-year study period.
In infant classes, ages 5–7:
There was also clear evidence of similar impacts in Key stage two – ages 7 – 11
There was no adverse impact observed at any level.
Glover & Miller conducted a study on the pedagogic impact of interactive whiteboards in a secondary school. They found that although interactive whiteboards are theoretically more than a computer if it is only being used as an adjunct to teaching its potential remains unrealized. The authors’ research was primarily to ascertain the extent and type of use in the classroom. In order to determine if any change in pedagogy or teaching strategies was taking place the researchers conducted a detailed questionnaire. The authors found that the teachers used the IWBs in one of three ways; as an aid to efficiency, as an extension device, and as a transformative device. They noted that teachers’ use of the technology was not primarily affected by training, access, or software availability. When used as a transformative device (approximately 10% of teachers taking part in the study) the impact on pedagogy was transformative.
In recent[clarification needed when?] times, manufacturers of IWB technology have been setting up various online support communities for teachers and educational institutions deploying the use of the interactive whiteboards in learning environments. Such websites regularly contribute research findings and administer free whiteboard lessons to promote widespread use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms.
According to a June 11, 2010 Washington Post article, "Many academics question industry-backed studies linking improved test scores to their products. And some go further. They argue that the most ubiquitous device-of-the-future, the interactive whiteboard -- essentially a giant interactive computer screen that is usurping blackboards in classrooms across America -- locks teachers into a 19th-century lecture style of instruction counter to the more collaborative small-group models that many reformers favor." However, there are now collaborative interactive whiteboards that may address this shortfall. The same article also states that according to Larry Cuban, education professor emeritus at Stanford University, "There is hardly any research that will show clearly that any interactive whiteboards will improve academic achievement."
An article posted on the National Association of Secondary School Principals web site details pros & cons of interactive whiteboards. A report on interactive whiteboards from London's Institute of Education said:
The report highlighted the following issues:
There are a number of literature reviews, findings and papers on the use of interactive whiteboards in the classroom:
Interactive whiteboards may use one of several types of sensing technology to track interaction on the screen surface: resistive, electromagnetic, infrared optical, laser, ultra-sonic, and camera-based (optical).
Permanent markers and use of regular dry erase markers can create problems on some interactive whiteboard surfaces, because interactive whiteboard surfaces are most often melamine, which is a porous, painted surface that can absorb marker ink. Punctures, dents and other damage to surfaces are also a risk.
Some educators have found that use of interactive whiteboards reinforces an age-old teaching method—teacher speaks, students listen. This teaching model is contrary to many modern instructional models, such as the Madeline Hunter-derived instructional delivery model.
Interactive whiteboards are generally available in two forms: front projection and rear projection.
Some manufacturers also provide an option to raise and lower the display to accommodate users of different heights.
Some manufacturers offer short-throw projection systems in which a projector with a special wide angle lens is mounted much closer to the interactive whiteboard surface and projects down at an angle of around 45 degrees. These vastly reduce the shadow effects of traditional front-projection systems and eliminate any chance for a user to see the projector beam. The risk of projector theft, which is problematic for some school districts, is reduced by integrating the projector with the interactive whiteboard.
Some manufacturers have provided a unified system where the whiteboards, short throw projection system and audio system are all combined into a single unit which can be set at different heights and enable young children and those in wheelchairs to access all areas of the board. Reduced installation costs make these short-throw projection systems cost effective.
In most cases, the touch surface must be initially calibrated with the display image. This process involves displaying a sequence of dots or crosses on the touch surface and having the user select these dots either with a stylus or their finger. This process is called alignment, calibration, or orientation. Fixed installations with projectors and boards bolted to roof and wall greatly reduce or eliminate the need to calibrate.
A few interactive whiteboards can automatically detect projected images during a different type of calibration. The technology was developed by Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories Inc and is disclosed in patent 7,001,023. The computer projects a Gray Code sequence of white and black bars on the touch surface and light sensitive sensors behind the touch surface detect the light passing through the touch surface. This sequence allows the computer to align the touch surface with the display; however, it has the disadvantage of having tiny fiber-sized "dead spots" in the resistive touch surface where the light sensors are present. The "dead spots" are so small that touches in that area are still presented to the computer properly.
Another system involves having a light sensor built into the projector and facing the screen. As the projector generates its calibration image (a process called "training"), it detects the change in light reflected from the black border and the white surface. In this manner it can uniquely compute all the linear matrix transform coefficients.
A variety of accessories is available for interactive whiteboards:
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