The global interactive whiteboard (IWB) market is expected to experience major growth between now and 2022. An IWB is a large interactive display that is connected to a computer, allowing computer images to be displayed using a digital projector. The IWB can be controlled using a pen, stylus, or even a finger. IWBs are rapidly emerging as one of the most successful and popular technologies for delivering content in classrooms, corporate board rooms, training rooms, and government agencies, and applications across these sectors are driving market growth.
In education, IWBs enable pupils to take a more active part in lessons and allow teachers to take account of different learning styles, such as tactile and visual. They also make it easier for teachers to pace their lessons according to the needs of different students and to create opportunities for collaborative learning. In other words, they are ideal for helping teachers take a personalized learning approach. They connect users tactically with content in a way that isn’t possible with traditional whiteboards. They’re good for modeling—showing students clearly how things work. Some software enables teachers to present electronic flipcharts that display shapes, text, images, and video that can be annotated using an electronic pen, stylus, or finger. One middle school that implemented IWBs reported the following:
- Teachers are now able to work alongside their computer files and are able to prepare and work on them at the same time.
- Teachers can save each “whiteboard” or flipchart and can call it up again at any time.
- Together with their colleagues, teachers are able to refine flipcharts and generate folders that are accessible for all on the school’s server.
- The gain in school is enormous because of the integration of media via the IWB.
- Teachers make their own maps and adapt them to current needs by enlarging parts of the big map and taking a photo. Pupils then work on the IWB and save their own flipcharts, which serves as a control for the teacher. This can also be presented to the parents at any time—active cooperation effectively becomes visible.
- The ability to add information/explanations from websites brings the material alive.
- Production of ready-made flipchart pages for individual teaching with links, sound files deleted words/texts, etc. for matching/guessing activities makes teaching interactive.
- Tools make storytelling and guessing games, especially for language teaching, much more fun.
- Slow learners benefit enormously—everything can be printed or sent by e-mail and referred to at a later time.
- The textbook trade has already reacted and offers interactive, network-compatible CDs in almost all subjects in order to match the textbook—and often with analog CDs for home use.
- The relevant hardware—like the control panel for the temporary disconnection of the board, for freezing the screen, and for turning off sound—is an indispensable aid for the teacher.
In corporate board and training rooms, IWBs are very popular for collaboration. One aerospace company with geographically dispersed consultants is using photos in order to communicate about aerospace certification and quality processes. The company adopted IWB technology for its board and training rooms and discovered that users can:
- Connect their laptop and control any application via touch
- Review past drawings, photos, and meeting notes that go back three days or three months
- Annotate documents and photos
- Have only one window open instead of several
- Integrate video conferences into the IWB for collaboration on a large scale
- Capture meetings and training sessions for review at a later date
- Save and e-mail IWB files in a variety of accessible formats (e.g. .pdf or .ppt)
In government agencies, workers can conduct briefings, meetings, and training sessions that keep all participants engaged and focused. Employees can access digital resources on a large touch-enabled surface and interact with content so everyone can see. They can open files, applications, websites, and multimedia using a finger. The pen can be used in order to write in digital ink over existing content and save it. Notes can be written directly into familiar applications like Microsoft Visio, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. A large federal government agency that implemented IWBs also found that:
- Information can easily be shared with both local and remote participants, including personnel in the field.
- Users can take advantage of video conferencing or can share screens so that all participants can interact directly with session materials, work together on the same documents simultaneously, or write notes that everyone can see.
- The large interactive surface is ideal for navigating content, analyzing material, viewing videos, or writing notes.
- By presenting course material and concepts visually, trainers can help keep participants engaged and focused on learning, whether they're in the same room or in a remote location. Trainers can also update course material on the fly by writing notes in digital ink or by editing and saving files when group discussions bring about new information.
- When quick decisions are required during operations, IWBs can help enhance situational awareness by enabling users to easily draw attention to key data and analyze information visually.
- Users can show action plans, view maps, and mark them up, as well as chart courses of action for everyone to see.
Educational, corporate, and government facilities are the biggest users of IWBs as these case studies show. VARs should learn about applications and case studies that are available for other industries in order to be ready to take advantage of the IWB software market as it takes off over the next few years.
Does your company sell interactive whiteboard software? What are your plans for selling IWBs in the future?