Here is a summary of the available pieces of software and what boards they come with:
- ActivInspire by Promethean: This is my favourite piece of IWB software and it comes with Promethean. I would say that it is the main reason for Promethean’s success. The reason this software is so good is because it is bright, big, colourful and very easy to use. On any course I’ve given, the vast majority of teachers are drawn to this program.
- Notebook by Smart: This software is free to download and it has a very “Windows” feel about it. This is something Smart seem to take pride in and no matter what I’ve said, they are refusing to change that opinion. The SmartBoard, itself, is a better board than Promethean’s, in my opinion, because of the ability to use a finger to interact but the software looks dull and not child-friendly. The annoying thing is that it’s actually very good software and contains loads of cool resources. I hope that future versions will be skinnable (you can change the look of it)
- Scrapbook on EBeam and its derivatives: Not a good product, which is why some sellers are shipping Easiteach or Wizteach (see later) instead. It’s only advantage is that it seamlessly integrates with PowerPoint. I would not buy an eBeam without buying software like EasiTeach, Lynx or ActivInspire.
- StarLearning on Hitachi: Again, like Smart, they have opted to go with the “Windows” look, which I don’t think works at Primary level. The software is good and its main attraction is the ability to have two people working on the board at the same time or you can pretend you’re in Minority Report and move lots of stuff around the screen with both hands. A skinnable interface would do it wonders.
- Lynx on Mimio/Cleverboard: Although there’s a new version out now, it is not very good in my opinion. It is dull and has little in the way of decent resources. I would certainly buy separate software if I bought one of these.
- EasiTeach on many boards: A reasonably good piece of software. It is colourful and suitable for primary level and there are loads and loads of resources, which look ok. The software works on any IWB and one can buy different add-ons in particular subjects, which is unique. Also, it is the only IWB software that has a dance mat add-on too! Definitely recommended.
- WizTeach on many boards: it’s not a bad piece of software once you get to grips with the interface but it does lack lots of features, especially clipart.
There are a number of other boards that come with their own native software. Most of them are comparable to Lynx, which is my least favourite of the IWB software available. There are a couple of decent exceptions. IMEX’s Interwrite board comes with decent software as does the IQBoard. I’m fairly sure the latter can be bought separately for less than €100, which isn’t bad at all.
In conclusion, my preference would be to buy the Promethean software but not necessarily with a Promethean board. Easiteach comes second but a long way back. If Smart improve their interface, I would see them being a huge challenge to Promethean’s offering. As for the rest, well they’re better than nothing, I suppose. But only just.
Last Update: August 17, 2017