Can I use clickers with an interactive whiteboard?

Pupil raises hand to suggest class start using clickers for interactive whiteboards

Published: August 9th, 2021

As the old saying goes, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You certainly can use a clicker to interact with your classroom’s whiteboard, but it’s no longer the preferred option among teachers.

Nowadays, most teachers use phones and tablets to connect with their interactive displays and cloud-based software. Using a years-old clicker on a new whiteboard would be like putting a 1970s engine in a brand-new car; it might get the job done, but you’re sure to run into technical failures and calibration issues.

Hesitant to give up your clicker? We understand – it’s tricky to stop using a product you’ve relied on. But unlike clickers, smartphones and tablets aren’t going anywhere. Keep reading to learn why your smartphone is the best tool to use with your whiteboard.

1. Drive student engagement.

When you not only allow students to have their smartphones in the classroom but encourage them to use their devices to participate in learning games and activities, you’ll help them engage and absorb information in a fun way.

The live education game Kahoot! is probably the best example of how students can use their smartphones to learn and engage with their subject material. A competitive quiz-type game, Kahoot! requires students to choose the correct answer to your question as quickly as possible. 

Each answer choice has a corresponding color. Students match the color of the answer they think is correct on their smartphone to the color displayed on the whiteboard. If they choose the correct answer, they’ll score points and move up the leaderboard.

There’s no better way to drive your lesson home and keep students mentally occupied than through a game on their smartphone through which they can compete with friends. Even the quietest students will have fun – they don’t have to say anything out loud to learn and have a good time.

2. Allow teachers to move freely in the classroom.

Clickers share many of the same frustrations as traditional TV remotes do. As soon as an object blocks the remote’s signal it stops working. It also doesn’t work when you’re out of the room. In a busy, often chaotic environment such as the classroom, that’s not at all advantageous.

By connecting your smartphone to the interactive whiteboard, you give yourself the freedom to move anywhere in the room, in any direction, while still controlling what happens on the board. You don’t even have to face the board to interact with it; as long as you have your phone, you can carry out the lesson.

If need be, you can even control the whiteboard from the hallway outside your classroom. Every teacher knows there are specific circumstances that make this feature extremely beneficial. 

In short? Smartphones give teachers more freedom than clickers.

3. No extra equipment is required.

Simply put, smartphones help teachers and students save money. Most students already own smartphones, so the only thing they might have to pay for is a .99-cent app for the whiteboard. 

Teachers will save money because they don’t have to buy a set of clickers, and students won’t have to rent, carry, or otherwise be responsible for the school-owned clickers. Because their smartphone is their property, students will have a greater sense of responsibility and ownership toward the phone than a clicker.

4. No interception from infrared or radio waves.

Traditional classroom clickers operate on either infrared or radio-frequency technology. Infrared technology also powers TV remotes, so the challenge facing infrared classroom clickers is the same as TV remotes: as soon as you’re out of the direct line of sight, the clicker is unlikely to work.

Line of sight can be particularly challenging in larger classrooms, or classrooms with lots of objects and equipment, such as a lab room.

Radio frequency-powered clickers also pose significant challenges, of which higher cost and interference between other electronic devices are only two.

Why should I use smartphones or interactive whiteboard clickers in the first place?

Smartphones and clickers drive higher levels of engagement in classrooms. Higher engagement leads to a better understanding of the presented material and may lead to higher rates of material retention. Interactive tools, such as smartphone apps or whiteboard clickers, foster communication and collaboration between presenters and audience members. 

A great online software tool to use with a smartphone is Promethean’s ClassFlow teaching software. ClassFlow is cloud-based and allows for the integration of hand-held devices to mirror content.

Interested in Learning More?

Let us help you create a truly transformational learning experience for your students with the Promethean ActivPanel interactive display. Get more information and request your free demo today!