By Jenna Martin, Promethean Education Consultant
Interactive Whiteboards: Key Features and Benefits for the Classroom
Interactive whiteboards, also known as IWBs or an interactive board for schools, have revolutionized the front of classroom experience by giving teachers and students access to powerful tools aimed to engage and empower users. The use of interactive display boards for schools in classrooms has been shown to increase student achievement around the use of three specific features. These key features include the use of learner-response devices or “voting” tools that allow students to enter responses to questions and immediately receive feedback, the use of graphics and visuals to represent information, and the use of interactive tools to reinforce learning by signaling that an answer is correct through a drag and drop activity (such as with Promethean’s lesson delivery software, ActivInspire), or acknowledging correct answers with virtual applause.
Interactive whiteboards for classrooms are built and designed for ease of use. The Promethean whiteboard is equipped with finger recognition and multi-touch recognition so multiple users can immediately begin writing, drawing, and annotating simultaneously. Additionally, the Promethean whiteboard is enabled with a palm-erase feature that allows users to mimic using an eraser with the palm of their hands. These features instantly turn an interactive whiteboard into a collaborative space for students which greatly enhances the classroom learning environment.
Key Features for Teaching
Teachers can launch a menu of classroom essential applications directly from the whiteboard (that uses the latest touch screen classroom technology) adding valuable tools at your fingertips. For instance, using a Promethean interactive display such as the ActivPanel, a teacher can open an Internet browser to research information or access an online curriculum while also using the annotate tool to highlight information or add notes in real-time. Teachers can also use Promethean’s multi-window feature to open a video clip in one window and have the interactive whiteboard open in the other to take notes while simultaneously watching the video clip.
Having access to a unified menu with a variety of multimedia tools allows teachers to be adaptable and incorporate different modalities of learning during instruction. The interactive whiteboard also offers flexibility with how teachers deliver instruction whether it’s from the front of the classroom, used as a small group station, or used to record lessons as part of a flipped classroom.
Additionally, teachers can also create whiteboard files and save them to internal storage or cloud storage for easy access whether in the classroom or at home. Having the ability to save whiteboard files is great for multi-day lessons or preparing lessons for substitute teachers.
Key Features for Learning
Using interactive whiteboards in the classroom has been shown to increase student engagement and promote collaboration. For example, using the Promethean Activities Player allows teachers to use interactive activities to enhance instruction and promote student engagement. Teachers can create a variety of activities including crosswords, timelines, sequencing, matching, and labeled diagrams that encourage students to come to the whiteboard and engage in a hands-on learning experience. Interactive whiteboard lessons can be saved and shared with students via cloud drive so students can reference lesson materials at a later date.
Another key feature for learning is the ability for students to connect their mobile devices to the panel (such as the ActivPanel Titanium interactive display) using Promethean’s Screen Share. This powerful tool gives students the ability to project their work in order to present a project to the class or receive immediate feedback on an assignment from teachers and peers. These tools empower students by giving them meaningful and relevant ways to engage and participate in their own learning.
Most Powerful Features of an Interactive Whiteboard
Promethean’s Screen Share feature is one of the most powerful features of an interactive panel, allowing up to 39 mobile devices to be connected wirelessly to the at any one time. This allows for multi-student participation by giving all students the opportunity to showcase their work to the class directly from their workstation.
Using key features of an interactive whiteboard can also increase engagement between students and teachers by involving the students in the delivery of lesson content. For example, a teacher can ask the class to find an image on a topic of study and ask a student to share their findings using Screen Share. Students can also use embedded tools in the interactive board, such as the ruler and pen tool, to solve math equations as an interactive piece to a math lesson. Multiple students can utilize interactive whiteboard tools simultaneously by using Promethean’s multi-user mode. This powerful feature of the interactive whiteboard splits the screen so more than one student or groups of students can be working on different tasks at the same time, increasing student engagement and promoting classroom collaboration.
Interactive whiteboards have many powerful tools to enhance teaching and learning outcomes in the classroom with new tools and features added by regular firmware updates. These updates provide innovative new features to existing interactive whiteboards with an easy over-the-air (OTA) update. This allows teachers to continually expand their toolkit while continuing to engage and empower their students using the latest touch screen classroom technology.
Learn More About:
 Marzano, Robert J. “The Art and Science of Teaching / Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards.” Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards – Educational Leadership, ACSD, Nov. 2009, www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov09/vol67/num03/Teaching-with-Interactive-Whiteboards.aspx.