Saturday, October 26, 2019

Interactive Whiteboard Alternatives

One of the biggest, literally, things in edtech is the interactive whiteboard. Smartboards, Promethean, there are a few manufacturers.

My district uses Smartboards. I'm not a fan. This post isn't a rant on why I don't like them, the purpose of this post is to outline an alternative, but to give some context, here is why I'm not a fan, and never have been, of interactive whiteboards...
  • they are expensive. $3k+ is a lot to spend on a single item
  • they are a central focal point... but classes should be flexible and fluid, a large fixed object like an interactive white board take up a lot of classroom real estate and are only used a small portion of the day
  • most users only use a fraction of capabilities
    • that may be due to lack of training, or that those features are bells and whistles and don't fit seamlessly into a teacher's workflow.. either way it's an issue
  • they only do one thing
    • ok, so not literally one thing, but a large, fixed object, no matter how "flexible" or "versatile" it's still a piece of furniture

So, what's the alternative?

My feeling is the money spend on this large, fixed object can be better spent on a toolkit of resources that provide the virtually the same features as the interactive whiteboards but also provide far more true flexibility and versatility.

So, here is my pitch... Instead of buying a $3,995 SMART 6000 series board, plus a $300 stand, for a total of $4,300, spend less money and get more.

Here is my spec sheet for an interactive whiteboard alternative...

BH #SAUN65RU7100 • MFR #UN65RU7100FXZA
B&H # LUFP4000 MFR # FP4000
MacBook Air
1.6GHz Dual-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz 256GB Storage Touch ID
11 inch Pro 512 GB
B&H # GOCCU MFR # GA3A00403A14
32 GB
Item #: 1682170 | Model #: 52676/28326


For less than 1 SMART 6000 you can get teachers a new display, a new laptop, and a new iPad Pro. Plus an actual whiteboard.

With this alternative you also take away the big, expensive piece of furniture in the front of the classroom. Sure, there is still a display there, an awesome 4K display, but now it's not something teachers will feel obliged to use because of the investment in it.

And of course, you don’t need to go with the iPad Pro and not every teacher needs a new MacBookAir, so the $3,786.93 number is a pretty high-end look at the situation. You could also swap the MacBook Air for a high end $500 Chromebook and you're down another $800. Don't need an iPad Pro? Save $500 on a mid level Air.

If you don't need to purchase teacher laptops or tablets use the finds elsewhere. By saving the money on the display you have many options for redistributing the remaining funds. Teacher devices, student devices, more classrooms upgraded, the list goes on,

$4,000+ is a lot to invest on a single item for a single room. There are alternative, my outline above is just one of many possibilities.

So, if you're thinking about dropping over $4,000 on a single interactive whiteboard, think about that same $4,000 buying a display and multiple other computing devices, with money left over.

Just some things to consider...

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