The 4th post in a series in which we have been learning about Interactive Whiteboards for the classroom.
Three weeks ago I started this effort with a post in which I researched market leaders and confirmed that the ubiquitous SMART Board is the clear market leader (with about 50% market share). Of the many other manufacturers that split the rest of this large and growing market, Promethean is a name I've come across frequently. This week I experienced a demonstration of their ActivBoard and various related products that Promothean offers for the classroom.
Sales Consultant Christina Godlewski from Promethean Partner Logical Choice Technologies visited our college this past Thursday with a full sized mobile ActivBoard in tow (I believe it was the ActiveBoard 300). After an overview of many of the instructional products offered by Promethean, the ActivBoard was demonstrated, with a focus on the ActivInspire software that comes with it.
The ActivBoard appears to be pretty similar to today's “gold standard” SMART Board, but there were a number of features and services through which Promothean seeks to differentiate their offerings from the competition, including the following:
- Durability: The ActiveBoard has a highly durable surface, unlike the SMART Board's touchboard surface (the ActivBoard does not operate by touch).
- Promethean Planet: The Promethean Planet social network has every appearance of a valuable community resource for educators who utilize the Promethean products for the classroom. In a comment here a couple weeks ago, reader Dallas McPherson stated, “I’ve used both Smart and Promethean brand whiteboards and prefer the support of PrometheanPlanet.com with over 14,000 lesson plans that are already broken down by grade, subject, and standards. When it comes to integration of tech in the classroom, there is no substitute for that kind of support.”
- Unique two-pen mode: The ActiveBoard features a unique two-pen mode, in which one user can play the role of the teacher or facilitator, and the other user can play a participative role.
- The ActiveXpression student response device. This LRS (Learning Response System) tool is considered state of the art, and can be used with other interactive whiteboards.
- Thousands of available Lesson Plans for the ActivInspire software: These lesson plans have been developed by other teachers, and are available on the Promethean Planet site.
- Their software: Promethean considers the the ActivInspire software a differentiator, and it is certainly a highly functional whiteboard application, but it was not immediately obvious to me if anything about this software actually sets it apart from other whiteboard apps like Smart Technology's Notebook software. One thing I was excited to learn is that the ActiveInspire application is available in a personal version for free download. I am going to check out this week – this could be a great app to use, independant of the specific whiteboard ultimately chosen.
This video is one of a series of “Teacher Features” posted by user PrometheanUSWeb on YouTube. These features focus on individual teachers who have made great use of the ActiveBoard products in the classroom, and provide additional insight into these systems:
Promethean positions itself as a provider of solutions for the whole classroom, and has a wider range of supportive and related products than many other whiteboard providers. Based on my exposure to interactive whiteboards so far, the ActivBoard seems to be every bit as good as the popular SMART Board, but without a touch capability (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).
So far in this series we've learned about SMART Boards online, reviewed a demonstration of the PolyVision ēno offering, and examined Promethean's offerings. Our next steps will include: trying out this inexpensive “Wii Board” technique, and collaborating with our faculty based work group to determine how we will move forward with the decision making process. I look forward discussing our progress, and wrapping this series up by selecting the product(s) we will be using for a small scale trial rollout.