New emphasis on developing current skills for students, the requirement for educator skill in technology and research documenting increased learning with the use of interactive whiteboards have spurred its adoption. An interactive whiteboard combines a dry erase whiteboard with an LCD projector and is usually mounted on a wall or floor stand, then powered by easy-to-use software. The whiteboard then becomes a computer screen viewable by an entire classroom. The projector projects the content from a computer onto the surface of the board while the teacher controls the content either with a pointer or a touch of the hand instead of a keyboard and mouse.
The combination of software with the projector results in more than simply a projected image. Anything that can be done on a computer monitor can be replicated on the interactive whiteboard. Some of the top interactive whiteboard software packages and some of their adjuncts are described below:
NEC Interactive Software MODEL NP01SW – NEC’s Interactive Software is a solution for classrooms, auditoriums, conference rooms, or anywhere users make presentations, teach, or collaborate. Compatible with the Apple iPad, NEC’s Interactive Software serves as a virtual remote control for most NEC projectors, providing full control over all features and settings. The software offers a strong feature set—from creation tools and playback to document viewing. NEC’s Interactive Software provides remote keyboard and mouse control, annotation, and the ability to save files in JPG format. The software works with PC or Mac and comes with stylus and USB flash drive. Users can create handwritten and drawn lessons on any background and save them for future playback.
Best-Rite OneBoard – This open-architecture electronic whiteboard that comes with or without a wireless kit has a 77-inch writing surface covered with a porcelain-steel board that is sturdier than melamine-covered electronic whiteboards. It uses an infrared cell LED touch technology™ to track movement across its surface and has a high sampling rate of 120 points per second. The board connects via a USB 2.0 port and works with Windows and Mac computers but not Linux. Users can write and draw on the screen as well as interact with projected content using fingers, pens, and crayons, as well as dry-erase, semi-permanent, permanent, and water-soluble markers. The main benefit of this product is its open-source architecture, with software that is not only extensible, but also unlocked, thus allowing content to be exported to any destination.
eBeam Edge – eBeam Edge is an electronic whiteboard solution from Luidia Inc. It is a USB dongle that works with existing standard whiteboards and projectors. The device includes a wired receiver, a stylus, a 15-inch USB cable, an AAA battery, mounting plates, and a software CD. This USB receiver tracks movements using ultrasonic signals and infrared beams. Users can write and draw with the included interactive stylus or use it like a regular computer mouse. There is also a Bluetooth version available known as eBeam Edge Wireless. The eBeam Edge is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. The device also supports video conferencing powered by Cisco's WebEx platform.
Hitachi Starboard – This software works with Windows and Mac computers via USB. Supported projectors include Hitachi’s FX series or standard, existing equipment. The software supports annotations, layout options, custom toolbars, search engine options, image integration, smart pens and dual pens, conferencing, document import, and virtual printing.
3M Simply Interactive – The 3M Simply Interactive System works with computers running Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X; version 2 supports Linux as well. The Simply package consists of a USB camera, brackets for mounting the camera onto a 3M Wall Mount, Light Pen, USB hub, USB drive and power adapter. Users can touch the stylus pen to the whiteboard surface to control computer mouse functions. In addition, 3M Digital Annotation software captures meeting notes and diagrams as you create them so they can be viewed‚ saved‚ edited‚ shared‚ and printed using any Windows or Macintosh operating system.
Panasonic elite Panaboard – This software works with the Panasonic UB-T880 multi-touch interactive elite Panaboard and supports drawing with fingers or pen. The software supports screen shading, recording, multiple users, document import, and a wide range of tools, ranging from basic pens and erasers to special-effect functions. The UB-T880 comes with two USB hubs to connect additional devices such as document cameras, Web microscopes or external printers to enhance meetings and presentations, and built-in speakers. An optional wireless kit is also available.
Promethean – Promethean supports a cloud-based option called ClassFlow and software option called ActivInspire. ClassFlow can connect students’ tablets and laptops to interactive displays such as Promethean ActivBoards, SMART Boards and interactive flat panels. It can also send interactive lesson content to students’ mobile devices for manipulation, annotation, individual review or creation. Using tablets, laptops, or optional ActivExpression, classes can be polled in real time to encourage active participation and uniform instruction. ActiveInspire supports dual-user pens, multi-touch capabilities, and interactivity tools that promote collaboration and engagement. Built-in lesson resources and 90,000+ resources on Promethean Planet provide lesson templates. Integration with Promethean’s student response systems facilitates ongoing learner participation and real-time assessment.
SMART kapp – SMART kapp allows users to write, draw and create ideas using any dry erase markers. The system automatically saves work, converts documents to PDFs and allows them to be sent to anyone, anywhere, instantly. SMART kapp technology improves collaboration for people in remote locations as well, giving them the ability to follow the evolution of ideas in a SMART kapp session in real time.
If you know how to use a dry erase board you know how to use SMART kapp. Switch it on, wirelessly connect your device to SMART kapp and you are ready to go. Installing kapp is as easy as hanging a dry erase board and the only wiring needed is to plug it in to any standard outlet. There is no need for any IT integration.
VARs that sell to educational facilities should become familiar with the top software packages in order to become successful. Other resellers may discover that selling electronic whiteboard software to the education vertical can be a lucrative new channel.
Are there additional facts about electronic whiteboard software that should be covered in this blog? Please comment below.