Educators and instructional leaders have long been searching for ways to foster collaboration and an effective way to use technology to capture the attention of students and employees.
Companies like Smart Technologies and Promethean offer interactive whiteboards and displays that allow the entire room to follow along on their own devices, said David Bishop, chief commercial officer of Pro AV Systems.
The vast majority of interactive whiteboard technology is going to educators, Bishop said.
The devices are typically coupled with an ultra-short throw projector that projects onto a surface, oftentimes a whiteboard.
On a similar note, interactive projectors provide the same kind of collaborative technology and don’t require a smart surface to do so.
These displays bring a bigger bang for your buck, Bishop said, as the display size can be up to 100 inches and cost up to $1,000 less than traditional flat-panel TV displays.
According to Bishop, interactive whiteboards and projectors can be purchased for under $3,000, while flat-panel displays of similar size can go for over $4,000.
When you don’t need to use the technology, the whiteboard or surface can be utilized for a more traditional, non-technical use.
“You don’t lose that front of the room when you aren’t using the technology,” Bishop said.
In a corporate or enterprise setting, interactive whiteboards, projectors and displays are often used as collaboration tools.
“While taking whiteboard notes, it gives you a simple process to share notes with everyone in the room,” Bishop said.
With some products — namely Epson’s BrightLink projector series — everyone in the room can connect and view the display on their own personal devices so everything written on the board is shared and employees or students don’t have to copy the notes.
“It allows people to have more collaborative discussions,” Bishop said.
Does an interactive whiteboard make sense for you?
According to Mark Coxon, sales director at Tangram Interiors, purchasing an interactive whiteboard or display really depends on what the organization is trying to accomplish.
In a setting where note-taking and annotating during a collaborate presentation or discussion is the imperative, interactivity is a must.
With videoconferencing technologies like Zoom, Teams and Microsoft becoming more popular, interactive boards and displays are becoming integrated with those communication apps and can often be shared with everyone on the call.
Interactive technologies come in various shapes and sizes, and a whiteboard-style display that requires employees or students to walk to the front of the room to use it may not make sense in every setting, Coxon said.
Coxon said interactive technologies that allow for collaboration from your seat are becoming more popular. Like Bishop, Coxon agreed that needs and requirements are shifting to more of a projection-based model rather than an interactive whiteboard.
Instead, projection and other display types have whiteboarding capabilities built right into the technology.
There are now a variety of ways to collaborate using whiteboarding or projection technologies, Coxon said.
That includes projecting into writeable wallpaper or glass, but the smart projector can take a log of everything written and share that with the entire room.
Other manufacturers like Crestron are offering new devices installed above a traditional whiteboard that can capture what’s written on the board with a regular marker, Coxon said.
“We’re still seeing it, it’s just shifted from an old school board that was an actual active piece of technology to now a dumb board with a smart projector,” he said.