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interactive whiteboard

What is an interactive whiteboard?

An interactive whiteboard, commonly known as a smartboard, is an advanced display tool that operates interactively, either directly or through other devices, serving as a technological advancement over traditional whiteboards.

Whiteboards have always been used as a way for people to share messages, present information and engage in collaborative brainstorming and idea development. With the same cooperative goals in mind, interactive whiteboards can connect to the internet and instantly digitize tasks and operations.

Interactive whiteboards facilitate dynamic presentations, collaboration and educational demonstrations by combining the simplicity of a whiteboard with advanced technology. They enable real-time engagement and can connect to the internet, enhancing their functionality by integrating digital tasks seamlessly into group settings.

As interactive whiteboard technology evolves, so does the functionality and application of these devices. They have become indispensable tools in modern classrooms and boardrooms.

The technology behind interactive whiteboards

While the technology used in interactive whiteboards varies widely, there are two basic kinds:

  • Large format screens. These are equipped with a standalone system on a chip, or SOC, that manages all the interactive functions independently.
  • Projector-based systems. Some interactive whiteboards use smart projectors or traditional projectors coupled with devices like tablets to register user interactions. These systems often require specific drivers to function effectively.

Interactive whiteboard's modes of operation

Interactive whiteboards operate through various technologies:

  • Infrared touch. Users can interact with the board through finger touch or pens that register on the infrared grid overlaying the display.
  • Resistive or capacitive touch. Touchscreens with resistive touch technology respond to pressure applied to the surface of the whiteboard, allowing for interaction with any touch object.  On the other hand, those with capacitive touchscreens respond to the conductive touch of a human finger.
  • Magnetic or ultrasonic pen. Some boards use specialized pens that emit ultrasonic waves or magnetic signals to communicate with the board.

Features and functionalities of interactive whiteboards

Interactive whiteboards are equipped with an array of digital tools and media capabilities that enhance their functionality. The built-in software package or suite typically includes virtual rulers, compasses, protractors and other teaching aids that make it easier to conduct interactive lessons and presentations.

example of an interactive whiteboard
Interactive whiteboards, like Google's Jamboard, feature a display, with which users can dynamically and digitally interact.

In addition, these whiteboards support various types of media playback, which allows for dynamic teaching methods and more engaging presentations. The software integration is extensive; most interactive whiteboards come equipped with tools that enable the creation of charts, polls, graphs and comprehensive interactive lessons.

This level of software integration significantly enhances both educational and professional meeting environments by providing a versatile platform for presentation and collaboration.

Applications of interactive whiteboards across sectors

Interactive whiteboards have become a fundamental technology in various sectors due to their versatility and interactive capabilities. They represent a significant leap in technology integration for educational and professional environments and bridge the gap between traditional presentation methods and future technology -- providing a dynamic platform for interactive learning, collaboration, and presentation.

In the field of education, they are a staple in classrooms globally, providing rich, interactive educational experiences that engage students more effectively than traditional methods. The corporate sector also benefits from the use of interactive whiteboards, particularly in boardrooms and conference rooms where they enhance presentations and facilitate strategic planning sessions. This fosters improved collaboration and more effective information sharing among team members.

In fields such as engineering and coaching, interactive whiteboards are invaluable for detailed planning and training sessions, enabling clear communication of complex information and interactive participation from all attendees.

Hybrid meetings can be hamstrung by technical and nontechnical challenges. Learn how to address common hybrid meeting problems to support attendees, no matter how they participate.

This was last updated in April 2024

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