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 confirmedÂ that the ubiquitousÂ SMART Board is the clear market leader (with about 50%Â 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 ofÂ their ActivBoard andÂ variousÂ related products that Promothean offers for the classroom.
Sales Consultant Christina Godlewski from PrometheanÂ Partner Logical Choice Technologies visitedÂ 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 prettyÂ similarÂ to today's “gold standard”Â SMART Board, but there were a number ofÂ features and servicesÂ through whichÂ Promothean seeks to differentiate their offeringsÂ from theÂ competition, including the following:
- Durability: The ActiveBoard has a highly durable surface, unlike the SMART Board's touchboard surfaceÂ (the ActivBoard does not operate by touch).
- Promethean Planet: The Promethean PlanetÂ social network has every appearance of a valuableÂ community resource for educators who utilize the Promethean products for the classroom.Â In aÂ comment here a couple weeks ago,Â reader Dallas McPherson stated, “Iâ€™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.”Â
- Unique two-pen mode: The ActiveBoard featuresÂ 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:Â These lesson plans have been developedÂ by other teachers, and are available on the Promethean Planet site.
- TheirÂ software: Promethean considers the the ActivInspire software a differentiator, and it is certainlyÂ a highly functionalÂ whiteboard application,Â but it was notÂ immediately obviousÂ to me if anythingÂ 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.Â 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 byÂ user PrometheanUSWebÂ on YouTube. These features focus onÂ 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 ofÂ solutions for the whole classroom, andÂ 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, reviewedÂ a demonstration of theÂ PolyVision Ä“no offering, and examinedÂ Promethean's offerings. Our next steps will include:Â trying out thisÂ inexpensive “Wii Board” technique,Â andÂ collaborating with our faculty basedÂ 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 selectingÂ the product(s)Â we willÂ be using for a small scale trial rollout.