A fair question was raised on the Education Posts Forum a few days ago. This person wants to buy an interactive whiteboard. She has read all the reviews on Anseo.net but wanted to hear from other teachers about their experiences about using their IWB in their school. She continued to ask if they would recommend their IWB over another.
Now, I’m not being defensive about my review process, but I think this question poses some problems. To make an analogy:
My colleague is thinking of buying a car. Now, he doesn’t know which one to go for and he’s looked at an independent review, which states the best value car at the moment is the Volkswagon Golf (for example). However, he wants to get other car-owners’ opinions.
Well, if they asked me, I’d be telling them to get a Toyota Prius, because that’s what I drive. However, my dad would tell them to get a Honda Civic for the same reason. Moreover, my sister would tell the person to go with some other car. At the end of the questioning, I don’t believe my colleague would get the car that suited his needs. The same is true for an Interactive Whiteboard.
I would advise against looking for opinions from current interactive whiteboard owners because everybody has their favourite for one reason or another, usually because that’s the one they are using. You should choose a board that suits your school’s needs. Will it need to be wheelchair accessible? (If so, you need a height-adjustable board). Would you prefer to use only a pen to interact with the board or would you also like the option of using your finger? How much money do you have? Do you need a short-throw projector or will a long throw one do?
To be honest, ALL boards do exactly the same things.
The one thing that shouldn’t affect your decision is the software that comes with the board. For an extra €100 or less, you can get any software you like. For example, I think the Promethean software is the best available but I’d never buy a Promethean board because I don’t want the restriction of only using a pen. If you buy an Interactive Whiteboard with basic software, it’s definitely worth investing an extra €99 or less on software, rather than spending €500 more on a board just to get the software.
Anseo.net has thoroughly checked out every IWB that it reviews. My favourite IWB changes depending on my needs. For example, my infants’ class would be suited to a different IWB to my older class, in my opinion. It’s essential to check out as many different boards to see which ones suit your needs. Try to see through the glossy presentations and focus on the exact needs you need your physical board to be. There’s no need to buy a board that doesn’t do everything you want it to. My biggest considerations are: 1. can I use my finger to interact with the board and 2. Can I use this IWB as a normal whiteboard, i.e. can I use dry wipe markers on it?
Before I finish this post, I feel I should recommend another excellent (Irish) web site before buying an IWB: The CBI Project is hosted at http://www.cbiproject.net, and is well worth a look. It provides vital information about prices and resources. The best of luck in choosing your board.