Interactive Whiteboards Bringing Innovations into Education

Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) are gradually being seen as an essential requirement for teaching in schools. Several studies highlight the impact that technology has made in making the classroom proceeding more engaging for students. We interact with leading vendors and stakeholders in this segment to find out their views on the use of Interactive Whiteboards

By Sheena Joseph Cherian, Elets News Network (ENN)

Interactive Whiteboards, which are completely technology enabled, are extensively used in developed countries with an estimate of over 90 percent of schools using IWBs in UK, US and Australia. Several studies have suggested that there are more than one benefits of using Interactive Whiteboards. Studies on teaching outcomes of those using Interactive Whiteboards have shown that student engagement in classroom teachings have increased on account of the use of IWBs. Also, there has been a positive impact on student motivation in classrooms.

According to a study conducted by Miller and Glover, it was found that the effectiveness on learning and student engagement was much higher when students were given the opportunity to interact with the Whiteboards. Certain investigations have shown that IWBs have had positive impact on even the lowest performing students.

Interactions with leading players in this segment have shown a unanimous endorsement of the fact that there is tremendous potential for growth of IWBs in India. This can be attributed to several factors including the presence of a large number of schools, which have very limited amount of technology integration. Tier 2 and 3 cities have shown the greatest potential for growth. Players in this sector also have a reason to cheer as the Indian Government has taken  several proactive steps in promoting the use of ICTs in schools and higher education institutes through legislations like National Mission on Education Through ICT (NMEICT) and National Knowledge Network (NKN) to name a few.

Other than IWBs, several new technologies have been added to this mission. These have now come out as ‘interactive solutions’ which are also being used by schools. These are a set of interactive classroom solutions that are a step ahead of IWBs although IWBs form an integral part of the same.

Huge opportunities also pose associated challenges. Some of them include the need for constant teacher training,  which needs to become an integral part of the strategies for deployment of ICT in educational institutes. So also is the need to create awareness and demystifying myths, fears and apprehension related to adoption of technology.

The ensuing coverage will provide perspective from the industry leaders on the Interactive Whiteboard segment.

“Penetration Will Increase Rapidly Due to Falling Prices of IWB”

D S Krishna Murthy
Chief Operating Manager,
Almoe Digital Solutions Pvt Ltd

Factors driving the IWB market in India and scope for its growth in the education space

The IWB market is seeing a rapid growth as most of the major content companies like NIIT, Extramarks, Edurite, Zee Learn etc are embedding this technology in teacher’s pedagogy. The sustained use of this technology for the last 5 to 6 years by teachers has had a very positive impact..

The IWB when connected to the school’s network and via broadband to the internet acts as a gateway to a wide range of resources. It is impacting the way lessons are taught, as the teachers themselves become co-learners along with their pupils. Children’s level of interactive engagement increases with the use of IWB and is able to understand complex, abstract and difficult concepts.

The place of IWB in Indian schools is now established and the penetration will only increase rapidly due to falling prices of IWB.

Emerging technologies

LED Projectors, Interactive Projectors, Learner Response System, Portable Visualizers are some of the emerging technologies.

Opportunities and challenges in the IWB market

Government policies are not yet friendly enough for the mass deployment of ICT and Interactive Classroom Concept. Private schools require more refined and supportive policies from authorities, to be able to have or require sufficient funds for a reliable and productive ICT implementation.

Strategies adopted by vendors to promote product
Good product offering with bundle offer, advertisements, events and road shows are some of the promotional strategies for vendors.

“Lack of Proper Awareness and Training is One of the Problems”

Nitin Joshi
Regional Sales Manager – Indian Subcontinent, Mimio

Factors driving the IWB market in India and scope for its growth in the education space

IWB products should be economical in price and  yet be the  best in technology with ease to learn and operate. Some of the other essentials are prompt pre and post-sales support with extensive warranty coverage. It is also essential to provide training to educators on technology products for interactive teaching, so that they can focus on their core responsibilities of teaching in-spite of wasting time in understanding the technology.
The scope for growth of the IWB market is enormous since the saturation level will not arrive before 2015 in India. So far only 4 -5 percent of market has been captured, and that too by the major private players. The real potential will only get visible once the Government (both Central and State) get involved and open doors for players to convert classrooms of government schools into interactive classrooms.

Emerging technologies

New technologies in this sector, include Interactive Projectors, Multi-Touch IWB systems, Automatic voting system/clickers for immediate assessment of students using multi-choice questionnaire.

Opportunities and challenges in the IWB market

The lack of proper awareness and education among the end-users about interactive teaching technology and various products is one of the key restraining factors. Resistance to learn new technology and  product by majority of teachers is also an impediment to the adoption of IWBs. So far only 3-5 percent of the entire potential has been captured so remaining is the huge opportunity in education vertical. Once the government starts adopting various teaching aids in their schools, then market will see the huge demand for IWBs.

Strategies adopted by vendors to promote product

There is a need for direct reach to the end-users to make them aware about the technology and their benefits by adopting the same into their day to day teaching activities , especially in higher education. Continual training & up gradation to end-users on latest updates of both hardware & software to keep the end-users up-to-date on everything regarding the technology. Taking part into education and ICT related events & exhibitions to showcase latest offerings & updates to dedicated visitors who really wants to know what is happening in the industry related to technology on one of the promotional strategies.

“Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) are a Delivery Platform”

Manish Joshi
Deputy CEO, Scientech

Schools are now using Student Response System to have interactive sessions. This system also enables the teacher to monitor each and every individual performance on various topics covered in classroom

Factors driving the IWB market in
India and scope for its growth in the education space
The IWB market in India has the potential of growing at a very good rate as there are a large number of schools in India and each school has abundant class rooms. As on date, an average school has deployed only 5 Digital Classrooms, and therefore, there is huge scope of growth even with the existing customers as well. Vendors are promoting IWB as a delivery platform for digital content and diluting the features and potential of IWB as an independent product.

Emerging technologies
Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) are just a delivery platform but there is more scope of involving students in to class while learning to have Interactive Sessions in true sense, observes Manish.

Schools are now using Student Response System to have interactive sessions. This system also enables the teacher to monitor each and every individual performance on various topics covered in classroom. It also assists teachers to identify students who need more attention Schools have started thinking of education beyond the stipulated eight hours with Virtual Campus being deployed in schools. Student can access teaching content, assignments, virtual labs  at any time from any place.

School libraries are opting for Learning Tablets with pre- loaded course material which makes students learn their subject from anywhere and at any time and even during travel! Basic rules and laws and application of Science and Technology are demonstrated in labs with various hardware training products  that give real time experience to students. This is a very popular concept in overseas schools.

Opportunities and challenges in the IWB market
There are good opportunities for IWB in the education segment but vendors have limited it’s usage just for delivering digital content . There is major scope if schools buy  IWBs independently.

Strategies adopted by vendors to promote product
IWB vendors are promoting their products to increase the numbers and are working on very less margin. It seems that the focus is on having more number of clients and gain major market share.

Vendors are promoting the EMI concept in promoting Digital Class Rooms but schools should also understand the economics, ie., if they buy the Complete Solution by paying up front, it will allow them to have more number of Class Rooms in the price of what they pay for EMI and with their ownership of hardware and software from the first day of installation.

“Biggest Opportunity is the Relative size of the Market”

Mohammed Ghouse
Regional Sales Manager (South & Western Asia), Luidia

Most classrooms still do not have or effectively use interactive technology to improve critical thinking and conceptual and practical understanding of material

Factors driving the IWB market in India and scope for its growth in the education space
The IWB market in India is expanding due to a number of factors, including the nation’s emphasis on making quality education, delivered with tools, methods and materials, accessible to all. Another important factor is the wide availability of educational software to millions of classrooms.

Emerging technologies
As “digital learning” continues to evolve, we anticipate customers will ask for more than a simple interactive solution. They are looking for cost-effective, portable solutions that allow for flexibility. Luidia’s eBeam technology products meet all of these requirements today and their ability to work with mobile devices and integrate seamlessly with other products like visualisers, smart phone and digital camera is expanding. Interactive learning should not be limited to the school day and Luidia has applications designed to keep students connected to their learning resources from home, public libraries, or anywhere they can access data on a computer, phones or other mobile device.

Opportunities and challenges in the IWB market
The biggest opportunity from our perspective is the relative size of the market. Most classrooms still do not have or effectively use interactive technology to improve critical thinking and conceptual and practical understanding of material. Now is the time. That said, challenges do exist. Competitors are re-inventing their products to offer better deals on price, but in doing so often compromise quality and customer service. They also build proprietary systems that limit classroom and technology innovation. Luidia’s eBeam technology is designed to integrate with other technologies, not limit their effectiveness and use. Additionally the market needs to be concerned with environmental sustainability. Luidia manufactures eco-friendly products built to last with a warranty extendable to seven years.

Strategies adopted by vendors to promote product
Strategies include but are not limited to presenting excellent demos that show eBeam technology in the context of educator and student needs and needs and benefits. Another strategy is to illustrate how the methods used to teach with interactive technology are closely aligned to curricular goals, and student achievement and engagement. Others include researching customers who are well positioned to successfully implement the products, helping customers secure funding and presenting to customers a plan for professional development and training post sales.

“Emerging Technologies in this Segment Include Social Learning”

Deepti Lamba
Vice President at IL&FS
Education & Technology
Services Ltd (ICT and KYan)

Teaching and absorption methods are keenly watched over and this in turn drives the IWB adoption since it translates into better learning experiences

Factors driving the IWB market in India and scope for its growth in the education space
IWB technology is now affordable and mainstream. This is allowing a broader spectrum of schools to buy and use IWBs to enhance the teaching learning experience. There is a preference for schools that are ‘brands’. The reputation of the school depends on their teaching abilities and feedback from the students and in turns the parents. Teaching and absorption methods are keenly watched over and this in turn drives the IWB adoption since it translates into better learning experiences.

Children are increasingly using tactile surfaces to access information (e.g. touch phone, tablets, kiosks with touch). When this is also brought into their learning environment, it translates to better rates of involvement leading to comprehension and even retention.  IWBs are built around students interacting with the content and their experiences being recorded. This is a proven in effectiveness compared to the earlier chalk-and-talk methods combined with passive note taking. This factor makes are massive difference in learning. This is a major factor that is triggering IWB adoption

Emerging technologies
The emerging technologies in this segment include social learning (utilizing social media and social methods for learning); web integration for sharing; multi-touch devices and learning environments (like Exploriments)

Opportunities and challenges in the IWB market
The factors that are triggering adoption of IWBs are also the opportunities. In addition to this multi-curriculum mapped content availability is an opportunity for learning providers as is teacher training for helping teachers adapt to and use the IWB environments. Challenges include availability of quality content (that is validated) and ICT integration in non-urban markets.

“IWBs Offer Interactivity and Encourage Collaboration”

Sanjiv Pande
MD – India  & South Asia, SMART Technologies

Factors driving the IWB market in India and scope for its growth in the education space
India today holds at a strategic advantage with more than 50 percent of its population under 25 years of age. It is critical to impart quality education to the students to create a talented workforce which could contribute significantly to the economy. The immense benefits of technology in making lessons engaging and lucid, have spurred the demand for comprehensive value-added educational solutions such as SMART Board interactive whiteboards. With five million classrooms in India and only a current 1 percent penetration with interactive whiteboards, there is tremendous opportunity in the education market. Integrating technology in classrooms could effectively address the disparity in education standards amongst various types of schools. The Indian government is recognising the potential of ICT in making education socially inclusive and has also issued various policies to make ICT accessible to students from all sections of the society.

Apart from education, the corporate sector has also given impetus to IWBs in India. IWBs offer interactivity and encourage collaboration while also allowing colleagues to participate in discussions, regardless of distance or location. These tools save valuable time and costs and are quickly becoming an indispensible business tool for meetings and corporate workshops.

Emerging technologies
The market for educational technology products has grown significantly in India over the past few years. Recognising the immense benefits of implementing ICT in education, more and more Indian schools are introducing technology in classrooms. This growth has spurred the demand for IWBs which facilitate easy content generation allowing teachers the flexibility to develop and customize lesson plans as per the requirements of the subject matter and the learner profile. The transition from traditional chalkboards to Interactive whiteboards has introduced a new market of educational devices and applications which complements the Interactive whiteboards enhancing its utility.  Thus, Interactive Whiteboards which offer interoperability allowing various enhancement devices and software would drive the market in future.

Opportunities and challenges in the IWB market
Education is the fastest growing segment in India. According to Futuresource Consulting, a leading research company that has been following global interactive whiteboard and other technology product shipments since 2004, there are more than 5 million classrooms in India and only 1 percent have interactive whiteboards. Thus, we can safely say that India’s education sector is poised for substantial growth and progress. Acknowledging the benefits of integrating technology in education, many schools and higher education institutions are adopting technology solutions to make learning an engaging and interactive experience for the learners. The government has also recognised the benefits of technology in education and has announced the launch of various policies giving an impetus to ICT adoption in Indian schools.

The biggest barrier in successful integration of technology in education is teachers being able to effectively use this new technology. To ensure maximum benefits for students and teachers, educators must first become comfortable with the use of technology – so professional development and training is  the key. Low internet penetration in rural areas and infrastructural issues such as frequent power cuts, shortage of adequate funding to allow schools to invest in interactive whiteboards and other classroom technology are some of the other challenges hampering the growth of IWB market in India.

Strategies adopted by vendors to promote product
Most Indian schools generally prefer vendors which provide complete solutions addressing all the technology needs of the institute. There are numerous Education Solution Providers (ESPs) in India offering this to schools in collaboration with SMART. In addition to working with ESPs, SMART solutions are also offered to customers through distributors and re-sellers. Apart from providing the solutions SMART also works with schools, training the teachers to ensure optimum utilization of technology in classrooms. Hardware components, digital content, software and services as well as training and professional development of teachers are a few areas that sets SMART apart.

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