What’s all the hype about interactive whiteboards?
Also known as electronic or smart boards, they are one of those things that you want to check out to see if they are as functional as they claim. In fact, they have all the interactive capabilities of traditional whiteboards except the interactive component allows learners and educators in face to face (F2F) environments to increase their informative and collaborative reach.
How is it different?
By connecting the whiteboard to a computer via a standard USB portal or wireless support, you can save or export any content created on site or through the use of standard documents like pdfs, jpeg files, Word or Powerpoint. Edits or annotations can be done instantaneously. Content is further expanded through a web browser connection that allows you to access and share information with your learners live. In this way, the learners utilize the tool by learning where and how to learn and access the information they need for their own learning and professional needs.
From an educational and professional point of view the collaborative and interactive possibilities are endless. The new touch response models appeal to the kinesthetic as well as visual learners. Professionals will apparently love the large venue presentation formats and transfer tools that are great timesavers for session content (Mott, 2013). The mixing of online content with personal documentation allows you to integrate your own documentation and materials. Whiteboards are Mac, Window, Linus friendly making them one of the most versatile tools for educative and professional purposes. I would definitely utilize one in my ESL and GLT professional practice if not for the single drawback–the investment. I have seen prices listed between 1600 to 6000 US dollars taking a sizeable chunk from any education or training budget. That is the key, convincing the financial keepers of its long term investment professional benefits both in the quality of your educative program and in your learners.
What’s the alternative?
An online whiteboard offers interactive drawing tools, extensive file support, screen capture tool, embedded commenting and videos with built in webcam and Voice-over-IP which is great for up to 6 long distance collaborators at a time. There is also a tool to generate quizzes and polls that can have a wide range of educative and professional applications. The marketing manager of Japan based Nidek believes that having his graphic designer on the viewer list allows him to make changes live as feedback is received (Wood, 2008).
In addition, the collaborative features surpass the physical ones because of extended global reach through video conferencing, sidebar forums, real time desktop and screen sharing, external publishing, tracking and logging your activity. You have the option of a closed forum by directing your private team members through the location noted in the address bar that is specific to each project. There are no automatized deletion features so your projects remain your forever, but best of all, the basic application is free with no downloading requirements. For me this versatility between private and public domain coupled with all the editing and collaborative features constitutes an ideal and affordable alternative that will enhance any academic or business teaching-learning context. It is the obvious choice for my business training and language learners.
So what’s the catch?
You have to put up with a few google ads that are selectively inserted throughout. If you want to have them removed, then you will pay a small fee. They do have to somehow support the constant updates and changes to keep the application current. Those upgrades are based on our user feedback which is collaboration put to its optimal effectiveness. Perhaps, this is why they merited the Web Hosting 2012 award for Recommended Web tool for Real time and Visual Collaboration.
“Communicating design revisions between nine different parties quickly becomes a constant barrage of paperwork. Rather than faxing, emailing and mailing documents, they’re uploaded once into Vyew, where invited participants can review and collaborate, all in one place” (Ostapower, 2007).
Glyndot1 (2013). Playing with electronic whiteboard [photo].http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8221/8287168078_a505cb6463_z.jpg
Lowensohn, J. (2007). Live whiteboard collaboration with Scriblink. CNEt. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-9774928-2.html
Ostapower, S. (2007). [Officer Manager, Cellworks]. Transcript of Vyew success stories.http://vyew.com/site/customers/success-stories/
Wood, F. (2008) [Marketing Manager, Nidek]. Transcript of Vyew success stories. http://vyew.com/site/customers/success-stories/
Mott E., (2013). Demand Media. The Use of Interactive Whiteboards in Business Conferences. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/use-interactive-whiteboards-business-conferences-70476.html
Vyew (2013). Continuous meeting rooms for real time & anytime visual collaboration [Screenshot reduction]. http://vyew.com/s/