The third post in an ongoing series on learning aboutÂ Interactive Whiteboards in the classroom.
I enjoyed learning about the SMART Board products while writingÂ last week's post. This week, I had the opportunity to enjoy a demonstration of a PolyVisionÂ Ä“no Interactive Whiteboard. The product was demonstrated by PolyVision Territory Manager Dennis Guidera and Educational Specialist Amy Brandt. These knowledgeable representatives did an admirable job of clarifyingÂ the important ways in which the Ä“no product line, introduced this year, differs from the ubiquitous SMART Board products.
The PolyVision Ä“no products have some significantÂ differentiators that anyone considering theÂ purchase ofÂ interactive whiteboards would doÂ well to be advisedÂ of, such as the followingÂ …
Writeable, virtually indestructible, ‘green', surface
The unique ceramicsteelÂ surface is practically indestructable (and 99.9% recyclable), and you can write on it with regular dry erase markers! (The rep demonstrating the product even wrote on it with a permanent Sharpie, and thenÂ wrote over that with a standard dry erase marker and the alcohols in that broke down the ink from the Sharpie and he simply erased it – pretty amazing. Don't try that onÂ a SMART Board!). In fact, the surfaceÂ is warrantied forever (yup, forever). Check out this YouTube video for an amusing demonstration of the Ä“no's durability.
Easy mounting (especially with the Ä“no ‘click' product line)
The Ä“no ‘click' product line can beÂ mounted directly on to manyÂ regular whiteboards magnetically (since many standard whiteboards are magnetic, and the Ä“no has a row of powerful magnets built in). Just place it up against an existing whiteboard, and you're ready to go! It doesn't get any easier than that.Â There is a special methodology required to pull the board back off, requiring two people and a proper technique,Â which helps to prevent theft.
The version of theÂ Ä“no that does not have the magneticÂ mounting ability is also very easy to mount. My son mentioned to me how it took a week for personnel at hisÂ school to mount a SMART Board, and you can still see damageÂ around the mounted board, where they ripped out the old chalkboard. It seems much less likely that this would happen with the simpler, lighter Ä“no boards.
There are no electronics or cables connected to the board
Another big surprise with the Ä“no boards is the complete absence of electronic connections – there's no power, no computer cables, nothing. The Ä“no boards utilize a Bluetooth enabled stylus, combined with Anoto technology,Â to detectÂ the user's actions, so it doesn't need power, and it doesn't need a physical connection to the computer. This adds to ease of installation, and more or less eliminates maintenance. There's just nothing to break on the board. It's that simple. This also means you don't have to work with different pens to write in different colors – you just use the magnetic function strip to select the color you want.
Use any software you want!
EachÂ Ä“no board comes with five RM Easiteach software licenses, but the PolyVision's open technology approach means that you can use whatever whiteboard software you want with the board (as well as interacting with regular software applications, like other interactive whiteboards). The intelligence of the boards are driver based, so once you install the driver on a PC or Mac and attach or enable a bluetooth interface, you can use any software that is designed for use with interactive whiteboards (including Smart Technology's Notebook software!).Â This is yet another powerful advantage of this product over proprietary competitive solutions.
Lower cost of ownership
There are a lot of reasons why the PolyVision line can result in lower costs, such as simpler installation, easier maintenance, more flexible functionality (you don't need to have both a traditional whiteboard and an interactive whiteboard in the classroom). Click here to access PolyVision's Total Cost of OwnershipÂ tools toÂ do your own analysis.Â
Here's aÂ brief (6 min.) video overview of the Ä“no whiteboard, for those who would likeÂ to learn more, or “see it in action”:
PolyVision also has a variety of associatedÂ products, including a tablet that can be used by instructors or teachers to interact with the board while moving around the classroom. There is also a “Walk-and-Talk” interactive panelÂ that enables an instructor to do everything they could do on the whiteboard from a portable interface, while the results display on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom – this works well from a podium, for example.
In summary, I was (obviously) quiteÂ impressed with the PolyVisionÂ Ä“no interactive whiteboards, and strongly recommend them for consideration.
Next weekÂ I'll continue this series by looking at some other competitive products, and hope to wrap this up no later than the week after, as we come to some conclusions about which product we'll be bringing into our school to work with.
[Note:Â Allow me to clarify that am not paid by anyone to blog about these products, or any others for thatÂ matter. I do itÂ for my own education and enjoyment!]