Classrooms have now come a long way from obsolete computers to projectors, Interactive Whiteboards (IWB), tablets, interactive suites with remote sensors, etc. IWBs were first conceptualised 22 years ago. Starting with the US and the UK, the technology has since grown internationally, with a presence in 75 countries.
IWBs have rendered a new meaning to the use of technology in education by making it more accessible to teachers and students alike. It has enabled ICT to be used in new ways to support a wider range of teaching and learning styles. By integrating audio-visual, graphics and text into the lesson structure, it offers the potential to improve learning by illusrating new concepts more clearly and effectively. A 2007 study commissioned by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) concluded that IWBs have a positive impact on primary school students in Maths, Science and English. It showed that many students progressed more quickly if they consistently used IWBs for an extended period of time.
The recognition of this potential has translated into record-breaking sales of whiteboards in 2008, with over 600,000 IWBs installed at various locations around the world, according to Futuresource Consulting. According to forecasts, the worldwide interactive whiteboard category will increase by 200% in the next five years and that one in six classrooms will have an interactive whiteboard by 2011.
India, with its 4.9 million classrooms, presents a significant market opoortunity for suppliers of this interactive technology. Having the youngest population in the world means that education is high up the government’s agenda, making the market ripe for suppliers of IT equipment. Our special issue on whiteboards is an attempt to capture this ever-growing space by focusing on major players in this field like Hitachi, Promethean, SMART, etc. We also bring to you some case studies reflecting on the classroom transformations brought on by integration of such technologies. Watch out for this space!