One of the oldest and prestigious Education Trust in Mumbai was looking at completely overhauling the teaching methodology by using latest ICT in the classrooms. This school which is having branches all over Maharashtra and now in AP and other states follow different curriculum, like State Government Board ,CBSE, ICSE, CIE, and IB, at different schools. They started by having six units of touch sensitive interactive whiteboards in the year 2005. But this experiment was not that successful because of the inherent problems with this membrane technology boards. The surface is very delicate to handle and more so because of the environment in which they are used in the Indian schools , they are more susceptible for damages. Also any accidental touch on the board would create annotations on the surface. The school also faced some problems in the after sales support. The school also wanted some world class interactive content which can be used on these interactive whiteboards.
Foundation e-Learning, proposed a complete solution- FX-77 to the school, encompassing the sturdiest of the interactive whiteboards and one of the best curriculum software for interactive whiteboard
Foundatione -Learning (http://www.cambridgeindia.org/fbelearning. asp) , the fully owned company of Cambridge University Press India and marketing partners of Hitachi StarBoards in South Asia approached this school and proposed a complete solution encompassing the sturdiest of the interactive whiteboards and one of the best curriculum software for interactive whiteboard. They suggested the school FX-77 (Ultrasound , Bluetooth) StarBoards of Hitachi and range of curriculum software from Cambridge-Hitachi (a Joint Venture between Cambridge University Press and Hitachi). The school’s management involved all the concerned during the evaluation process – the teachers, the Principals of schools and the IT team. They found StarBoards as the most sturdiest of the boards as there is no electronic mesh in the surface; so even if the surface gets damaged the board still works.
General Manager, Foundation
e-Learning Pvt Ltd
The StarBoard software is very intuitive and user friendly, which was immensely liked by the teachers. The teachers also appreciated the depth and features of Cambridge-Hitachi curriculum software. As the contents are from Cambridge University Press and the technology from Hitachi, the quality of the end product was never in doubt. The school finally decided to award this project for StarBoards after critically evaluating all the major vendors of Interactive whiteboards in the market.
Features of FX-Series board
- Use a variety of pens, papers, backgrounds and effects
- Switch effortlessly from pen to mouse
- Customise the toolbar, from a wide selection of tools to meet the individual classroom needs
- Add notes, and highlight or add emphasis to the images
- Move and resize objects
- Scroll, so one never run out of space
- Convert hand-drawn shapes into geometrical objects
- Save time with drag-and-drop applications
- Convert free form to text using handwriting recognition software
- Hide-and-reveal questions
- Save favourites for tried-and-tested lessons
- Keyboard shortcut for lesson creation away from the board
- The cursor can be hovered over an icon to reveal the icon’s function
- ‘Spotlight’ or magnify a specific area
- Record the live sessions (audio-visual) to replay later
The company installed 58 units of FX-77 StarBoards in May 2006 and also supplied all the softwares of Cambridge-Hitachi. An extensive training was organised for their 300 teachers for a week with specialist trainers coming down from Cambridge (UK), Singapore and Tokyo. The teachers just loved it! The school management took a bold step in involving students as well in their day-to-day learning. This made the teacher’s job lot easier and brought in a revolutionary and refreshing change in the entire teaching and learning process. It was all interactive, interesting and fun to learn and teach now. The school was so delighted with all this that they placed another order of 80 units of FX-77 Starboards in February this year. In between 13 units of FX-77 were installed in their other schools. As of now the company has installed 151 units of FX-77 StarBoards in this group of Schools. The school management plans to install one interactive whiteboard in each classroom! The revolution has just started!!
Foundation e-Learning Pvt Ltd, a division of Cambridge University Press India Pvt Ltd, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Total Solution in Teaching and Learning
Tarun Jain, Country Head, Hitachi Home Electronics Asia (S) Pvt Ltd
What are the different models of whiteboards available to keep classrooms engaged? How to use an interactive whiteboard in the classroom, across the curriculum, and how to use effectively?
There are several models fit for the type of classrooms. Front projection model (StarBoard FX Series) is almost the same appearance as whiteboard and it can be wall-mounted. The available sizes are 63″, 77″ and 82″; and the 77″ size is for normal classrooms where it can have 20-30 students. For larger rooms that can engage over 100 students, interactive panels (StarBoard T Series) are appropriate. This allows users to operate the PC by using a pen on the LCD display and the PC image is projected on a large screen as required.
We also have Bluetooth tablets (BT-1 and BT-2) and Voting systems (VerdICT) which are add-on products to our StarBoards, and when connected to each other completes a digital classroom solution.
How does an interactive whiteboard benefit learners, teachers and presenters? Why use it? What are the essential features of interactivity, and how can their use be promoted and then sustained?
The several benefits for learners, teachers and presenters are like-
(1) Annotation: Different from presentations using PowerPoint, Hitachi StarBoard allows users to annotate presentations. Also, it is possible to insert blank background and use as a substitute of whiteboard.
(2) Using multiple pages: Normal whiteboards allow users to use only one page, and if they erase the whiteboard, the handwritten notes will be gone. On the other hand, StarBoard allows users to use multiple pages electronically and it is possible to move forward/back pages as desired.
(3) All notes are stored as electronic data, StarBoard Software allows teachers to review and reuse lessons afterwards. Teachers do not need to create lesson plans for the same subject and curriculum every year anymore. Also, teachers can email lesson plans to the learners who could not attend the lesson. StarBoard Software supports PDF, HTML, Images (jpg, png) output.
(4) No chalk dust, No marker smell -This is beneficial from the health and safety angles.
How can the use of an interactive whiteboard enhance the nature of teaching and learning, in a more subject and language specific way?
Let me answer this with an example. Science teachers can use movies and videos easily on StarBoard. This makes learners understand things more effectively than just looking at static diagrams in textbooks.
Another example is Math tools like protractor or a ruler, is available in StarBoard Software. Teachers can move, resize, or rotate the tools and show values (angle/length) as desired.
What should one look for in commercial available whiteboard materials to maximise any benefits of its use?
Hitachi provides the pre-prepared contents that work on StarBoard Software. Teachers can download contents as desired and use them for their lessons. The URL is: http://starboard.hitachi-software.co.uk/ResourceCentre/en/
The use of the website is free of charge and StarBoard users can access anytime they want.
Does the teacher need operational training of the tool? What type of materials should teachers be producing for themselves, given the varied designs of such tools with which they are working?
Training is not mandatory to use any interactive whiteboard, as StarBoard Software is very intuitive. However, to utilise the full capability such as movies/videos, animation, math tools and handwriting recognition, training will be helpful.
We have installed more than 160 StarBoards in schools in India and along with our partners Cambridge-Hitachi (www.cambridge-hitachi.com) and Foundation e-Learning (http://www.cambridgeindia.org/fbelearning.asp) we have given extensive training to their teachers and students.
Which model of whiteboards best supports the growth in the effective use in the classroom?
As StarBoard Software works on all the available models (Front Projection: FX Series, Interactive Panel: T Series), it depends on how natural the installation is. Considering this, front projection is the best choice for classrooms because the appearance is almost the same as a whiteboard as mentioned.
What are the softwares to use on whiteboards?
Other than StarBoard Software which is bundled with StarBoard products, curriculum specific contents are available from Cambridge-Hitachi (a joint venture company established by Cambridge University Press and Hitachi). Cambridge-Hitachi provides wide-range of products on Maths, Science, English Literacy and ELT (English Language Teaching) for Primary, Secondary, Higher Education and lifelong learning. As mentioned earlier we provide training on all these softwares with our South Asia partner Foundation e-Learning.
What are the ways forward, in terms of technology, innovation and potential to enhance the teaching learning process?
Interactive whiteboards make teaching and learning more effective. We think that this effectiveness will spread to assignment and assessment, and Hitachi would like to provide a total solution in conjunction with other parties such as Cambridge-Hitachi for all teachers and learners in the future.