Even though there’s not too many schools who have the luxury of making a decision like this, there are some schools who have kitted out all their classrooms with IWBs and are thinking about getting one for the staffroom.
But why would anyone want a potentially €3,000 piece of equipment in their staffroom? What would any staff need an IWB in their place of refuge from the classroom?
Well, what about staff meetings? I could see an IWB being used for brainstorming and mindmapping. For example, staff could write up their ideas on the board and after handwriting recognition has done its bit, you’ll have some lovely notes to pass around the staff. I also like the way some IWB software allows you to integrate with PowerPoint easily. For example, a postholder for Green Schools might show a graph of the number of recycling bins vs normal bins being collected. As people shout out their thoughts, the IWB can be used to write these down and they would be saved for future use.
The board can be used for other things such as an electronic noticeboard, where staff can update events with the stroke of a pen or the swipe of a finger. Meetings and shared documents can be easily displayed and interacted with. In fact, the possibilities are almost endless.
The thing is that none of the above uses for the board are the same as they would be in the classroom. The primary classroom requires cartoons, flash video and activities, colourful backdrops and stuff to make kids motivated. The staffroom IWB needs to be functional and doesn’t need magic colour schemes so which board would I go for if I had the luxury of that decision!
I’m not disregarding any IWB, because, as I always say, every board does exactly the same thing. However, I do feel that these two boards have functions that would be difficult to get using any other type of board. The IWBs that I’d recommend for a staffroom or office are: 1. The eBeam or its derivatives or 2. The Teamboard.
1. eBeam, 3M, Vosa iBoard, Rainbow IWB, etc.
Any IWB that comes with eBeam technology has the great honour of four cool features. The first is that you can use dry wipe markers on them so when it’s not being used as an IWB, it works nicely as a normal whiteboard. The second is that the software that comes with it has the ability to interact brillantly with PowerPoint presentations. You can write all over a PowerPoint slide and it automatically saves your doodlings when you exit the slide – not a feature of any other IWB software. The third cool thing is the price. An eBeam widget costs about €500-550 these days and if you already have a projector and whiteboard, it’s less of an investment. Finally the fourth thing I like is that you can take the eBeam off the board and bring it somewhere else. So if meetings are held in different rooms, this is useful. The only problem with the eBeam is that it uses a pen only so you can’t interact with your finger. This mightn’t be that important for a staffroom though, so the bad news is that the pen requires batteries and is pretty useless without them.
The Teamboard has one amazing feature that no other IWB has. If you turn off the projector, anything you write on the board with a dry wipe marker is automatically saved on the laptop. This is really really useful because you don’t need a projector, yet all your notes, etc. can be saved. With the projector switched on, it becomes a normal IWB and you can do all the usual stuff an IWB does. The other great thing is that you can interact with the board using your finger as well as any pointy device like a “magic” pen. The downside of this board is its price of €2,600 minimum. Aside from that though, I would see this as the perfect board.
I’d imagine this is a long way off in most schools’ budgets but it certainly has its advantages. I’d be questioning schools who got a board in their staffroom before the classrooms were fully kitted out but if you have the money to do this, your board meetings could be better managed with a board.
Last Update: Aug 17, 2017