The third post in an ongoing series on learning about Interactive Whiteboards in the classroom.
I enjoyed learning about the SMART Board products while writing last week's post. This week, I had the opportunity to enjoy a demonstration of a PolyVision ēno 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 clarifying the important ways in which the ēno product line, introduced this year, differs from the ubiquitous SMART Board products.
The PolyVision ēno products have some significant differentiators that anyone considering the purchase of interactive whiteboards would do well to be advised of, such as the following …
Writeable, virtually indestructible, ‘green', surface
The unique ceramicsteel 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 then 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 on a SMART Board!). In fact, the surface is warrantied forever (yup, forever). Check out this YouTube video for an amusing demonstration of the ēno's durability.
Easy mounting (especially with the ēno ‘click' product line)
The ēno ‘click' product line can be mounted directly on to many regular whiteboards magnetically (since many standard whiteboards are magnetic, and the ēno 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. There is a special methodology required to pull the board back off, requiring two people and a proper technique, which helps to prevent theft.
The version of the ēno that does not have the magnetic mounting ability is also very easy to mount. My son mentioned to me how it took a week for personnel at his school to mount a SMART Board, and you can still see damage around the mounted board, where they ripped out the old chalkboard. It seems much less likely that this would happen with the simpler, lighter ēno boards.
There are no electronics or cables connected to the board
Another big surprise with the ēno boards is the complete absence of electronic connections – there's no power, no computer cables, nothing. The ēno boards utilize a Bluetooth enabled stylus, combined with Anoto technology, to detect 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!
Each ēno 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!). 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 Ownership tools to do your own analysis.
Here's a brief (6 min.) video overview of the ēno whiteboard, for those who would like to learn more, or “see it in action”:
PolyVision also has a variety of associated 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 panel 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) quite impressed with the PolyVision ēno interactive whiteboards, and strongly recommend them for consideration.
Next week 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: Allow me to clarify that am not paid by anyone to blog about these products, or any others for that matter. I do it for my own education and enjoyment!]