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.