4/16/09 Promethean Boards
My mother is an elementary school teacher. Recently, I visited my Mom’s fifth grade class and she demanded that I test out her new “toy”. Initially i was skeptical, but my Mom insisted that I stay after her students left so I could experiment with her new piece of technology.
Her new gadget was a Promethean interactive whiteboard. These boards are a new piece of instructional technology which combines inferred technology (similar to a wii-mote), a projector system, and a desktop computer. At its most basic the system performs the same role as a whiteboard, only all writing is done with a stylus. Sensors transfers the location of the stylus back to the computer and projector, which projects an image onto the touched area.
Interactive whiteboards, like the promethean, are part of a trend in education to better engage students using technology. Not only do these boards give you mundane option of writing, they also come packed with software which makes them truly versatile. Instructors can project images on the boards, rotate them, enlarge them, compare two pictures at the same time, and much more. History teachers can display primary documents next to each other. Art teachers can put famous works on the board, highlight important features, or magnify them. The boards even come with interactive color wheels which can displayed many ways and illustrate color theory.
The boards come with a huge amount of content specific features. The geometry section offers tools that range from a simple drag and drop protractor to interactive visuals which demonstrate complicated mathematics I don’t understand. My mom used the protractor to show her class how to use them and measure angles.
Interactive whiteboards offer an incredibly large amount of options for teachers, or any public speaker, to better reach their audience and get their message across. The system comes with remote inputs for voting, similar to the “clickers” here at ISU only more enjoyable. I experimented with the board for almost an hour and barely skimmed the surface of what it had to offer. The companies which produce the boards also release downloadable content, lesson plans, and genuinely entertaining activities. Features like virtual magnifying glasses and lenses which show hidden information or answers when they are dragged over them make simple and mundane tasks very interesting. It’s safe to say if my school had these while I was attending it, I wouldn’t have spent half of my high school career in a boredom induced coma.
This new type of interactive technology offers an example of how technology plays an important role in education, other fields, and society in general. It also offers an example of how personal knowledge of technology can be useful. One of these professionally manufactured boards costs around $5,000, or you could make your own with a wii-mote, TV, and some good basic know how.
Here are some demo videos, first a commercial whiteboard
and finally a home made one (this one is a little long so feel free to skip ahead)
Thanks for reading, remember to take the quiz on blackboard
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