Using a Wii Board & ActiveInspire software to demonstrate IWB's, at little cost.
In November I started working with a team of faculty members and technologists to learn about today's Interactive White Board offerings, and I've been posting a series of articles about our efforts. This week we reviewed what we have learned so far, and discussed how to move the process forward. An importantÂ nextÂ step is to demonstrate how an IWB worksÂ for our Department Chairs in their next meeting and make sure everyone understands the technology under consideration.
Over the summer I learned about this inexpensive “Wii board” technique for creating an interactive projection system that has some ofÂ the essential functionality ofÂ an IWB system, for very little cost. By coupling this with the free Personal version ofÂ ActiveInspire IWB software (from Promethean), we can demonstrate some ofÂ what these systems can do,Â for little upfront cost. It is alsoÂ possible that this sort of inexpensive, portable tool may be perfectly adequate for some purposes (I would certainly consider using this for presentations from time to time if it works reasonably well).
Let's review of some important considerations thatÂ have come out of our work thus far:
Enhancing understanding and addressing misperceptions: Until they see the systems in use, it is likelyÂ that some teachers and administrators may be functioning under misperceptions aboutÂ what an IWB can and cannot do,Â how they work, and options available in today's product offerings.Â So getting a good look at them was step one, and we got a great start on that with the sales presentations that we experienced and the research we did online.Â Demonstrating the functionality to our Department Chairs willÂ incorporate them in the dialogue and decision making process.
If we build it, will they come? Once we all get up to speed on the functionalityÂ today's IWB's can offer, the fundamental question becomes, “How canÂ instructors use these in meaningfulÂ ways in the classrooom, and will they?”Â These systems are not some sort of self-contained panacea of interactive learning. Instructors must be trained in their use. Getting the most out of these systems can require creating interactive lessons, which entailsÂ a furtherÂ investment of time. What academic disciplines in our Higher Ed institution can gain the most from this, and which ones will not find it worth the effort?
Lesson Software: One of the most attractive featuresÂ of these systems is the ability to createÂ lessons in a software package designed for use with the system. This is time consuming – especially the initial learning curve. To ease the process, many of these software packages include templates and tools, and there is a growing body of shared lessonsÂ available for some of them via the Internet. Unfortunately, the heavy bias towards K-12 means that the offerings are slim for Higher Ed.
IWB's in Higher Ed vs. K-12: Why are these systems much moreÂ predominant in K-12 then inÂ Higher Ed? OneÂ reason mayÂ be thatÂ IWB'sÂ are intended toÂ increaseÂ interactivity and engagement, whichÂ has long been recognized asÂ essentialÂ in K-12, but has not been asÂ importantÂ inÂ Higher Ed (althoughÂ this has been changing in recent years). Another factor might be market based – publicÂ school districts provide a larger potential customer base than individual higher education institutions, so more effort has been focused there.Â If any readers have any other thoughts or information about this disparity, please comment and share!
“Mixing & Matching” tools: One of the more interesting things I've learned over these last few weeks is that it is possible to mix and match some of these products. You may be able to use one manufacturer's software with another's White Board, and use a third vendor's Response Devices, creating a “best of breed” solution (or just saving some $$ while providing desired functionality).
The Wii Board
As mentioned above, we are giving this a try, since it seems to be an easy, low cost way to learn more about this kind of tool in a hands-on fashion. Who knows, it may very well be a pretty handy little system – it certainly seems very portable. While this may not be as functional as a true IWB system, it takes so little to try it out. We picked up a Wii Remote, and we were setting this system upÂ with a bluetooth-enabled notebook PC, but theÂ cheap IR pen we were using broke almost immediately. We've ordered a better one, and I look forward to sharing our results here soon.
I recently downloaded this software, which works in a limited “Personal Version” mode if you don't actually own an ActiveBoard from Promethean (see this postÂ to learn more about the Promothean product line). I've started working with it, and I'm quite interested in understanding just how much functionality this slimmed down version offers and it's potential utility independant of the ActiveBoard that it was originally designed to work with.
We will not be conducting this demonstration until January, so I'm going toÂ divert from this topic for a few weeks, and sink my teeth into something else. I'm thinking about either Lesson Capture or online tutoring options as a topic to research and blog aboutÂ for a few weeks, until IÂ get back to our progress with the IWB effort. I always welcome reader input, so please drop a commentÂ if anyone has any ideas or questions about either of these topics. Thanks!
Hello Readers! I will be presenting a Webinar withÂ Campus Technology this comingÂ Tuesday, December 8th at 2PM EST. We'll be discussing “Portal, LMS, & Alert Solutions: Best of Breed or Single Source“. Listen in and learnÂ how we lowered costs while enhancing the delivery of these applications.Â Click here to register!