Teachers, students and digital whiteboards

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What is the role and how digital whiteboards can impact the way you teach? With this question, let’s enter the world of technology, which is constantly being created to enrich, improve or replace existing solutions, also in the field of education.

Interestingly, we can understand digital whiteboards in two ways – as an interactive whiteboard or as a whiteboard available on the Internet, i.e. an application or a platform. Before I did my research, I thought they were two separate things, but as I looked through more and more sources, I noticed that this nomenclature is used in both cases. So without further ado, let’s look at the first one.

Digital whiteboard = interactive board?

A digital whiteboard is known as an electronic or interactive whiteboard. It’s a device that can be used almost like a traditional whiteboard but with added digital features. “Almost”, because it’s better to use a dedicated stylus, not classic markers so that the principal doesn’t have a heart attack. Who has not seen sticky notes with the inscription “DO NOT USE MARKERS ON THE INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARD!!!!!!!!!!!” and the dirt being desperately erased when the teacher did used it by mistake (ah, those school memories…)? Anyway, let’s focus on a case. A digital whiteboard allows users to interact with the content on the board’s surface. It usually consists of a large display panel – a touchscreen or stylus-responsive surface. It is connected to a computer or other devices such as tablets or smartphones.

Teachers with students are using digital board.
Image: Freepik.com

The main goal of digital whiteboards is to enrich learning and visual communication in various environments, for example in classrooms, conference rooms, or training centers. Users can write, draw and annotate directly on the whiteboard while the content is displayed on the screen for all participants to see. The digital aspect enables additional functions, including saving and sharing content, integrating multimedia elements, accessing online resources, handwriting and shape recognition, handwriting-to-text conversion, image editing, and integration with other applications.

Digital whiteboard = online whiteboard?

Now let’s look at the other side of the term ‘digital whiteboard’, namely online applications or platforms that offer the functionality of a traditional whiteboard on digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. To illustrate how broad the discussed market is, I will instance some popular applications that support teaching, but this is not an advertisement (I hope that it’s clear since we’re on www.sharetheboard.com đŸ™‚ ):

Online witheboard with features.
Image: Google

an application available on Windows, iOS, and web platforms. It offers real-time collaboration, freehand drawing, pins, image and document insertion, and integration with other Microsoft apps such as OneNote and Teams.

 

a cloud-based application that integrates with Google Workspace. It enables real-time collaboration, drawing, handwriting recognition, pinning, and image import. It is available in a web version and as a mobile application for iOS and Android.

 

an online platform for working on whiteboards, used for brainstorming, diagramming, and project planning, among other things. It offers many templates, shapes, and integrations with other popular digital tools.

 

application designed for education. It enables interactive presentations, screen recording, drawing, annotation, and multimedia integration. It is available on iOS, Android, and as a web application.

 

software that provides a simple and intuitive whiteboard experience. It offers features like freehand drawing, real-time collaboration, pins, and integrates with other tools like Slack and Google Drive.

 

These are just a few examples of interactive whiteboard applications, and many more are available with various features and capabilities. This is both a plus and a minus, it depends on the personality. Some people like to have a wide range of proposals to make their own choice. Others (including me) would like to have one tool on the market that fulfills basic functions and you don’t have to dig through dozens of products to find the perfect one. Well, no one said it would be easy đŸ™‚

 

Digital whiteboard for teaching

 

Teacher is using digital devices for teaching in classroom.
Image: Freepik.com

To sum up the paragraphs above, digital whiteboards offer a more dynamic approach to presentation and collaboration, combining the benefits of whiteboards with the benefits of digital technology. That is why they are becoming more and more popular in teaching due to the possibility of involving students and focusing their attention with a new approach to conducting classes. Below are some examples of how teachers use this tool and its capabilities in their lessons:

 

  • Interactive presentations

Teachers create attractive presentations, enrich them by adding images, videos, and interactive diagrams to explain often difficult processes or equations to make lessons more absorbing and memorable.

 

  • Distance teaching

In cases remote teaching is necessary, teachers have the ability to effectively conduct virtual lessons. They can share their screen or use a digital whiteboard platform, which keeps lessons interactive, even in an online environment.

 

  • Formative assessment

Teachers conduct quizzes, surveys, or interactive exercises in which students respond directly on the board. Thanks to this, teachers have immediate feedback, track progress and facilitate the assessment of the level of knowledge, which is helpful, for example, when creating tests or further curriculum.

 

  • Recording and replay

Teachers often record their lessons along with the content and annotations made during the class. This allows students to access the material after classes, which is especially important for absent students who want to catch up.

 

Digital whiteboards provide teachers with a powerful tool to enrich teaching methods, encourage student participation and create an interactive learning environment. By combining the benefits of technology with effective pedagogy, digital whiteboards can significantly improve the teaching and learning experience.

Digital whiteboard - pros and cons

It’s easy to see that there are many ways to use digital whiteboards. I will add one more point to this article (which I think will become a regular feature in my writings), namely the pros and cons. You can read more about the opportunities and threats (often hidden) of the Remote Age here in Marcin Demkowicz’s article, which I encourage you to do. I present below a short list of some basic lights and shadows of digital whiteboards for teaching.

Illustrated advantages and disadvantages of digital whiteboards.
Image: Freepik.com

Advantages:

 

  • have high-resolution displays, making presentations clear and dynamic; in the case of mobile or web applications, the quality depends on the computer, but nowadays almost any equipment can provide a positive visual experience
  • enable interaction and involvement in the learning or presentation process – users can write, draw and directly manage content, which supports better memorization and understanding of the material, and also helps to build a team atmosphere
  • offer a wide range of tools and features, such as pen and shape recognition, text conversion, and integration with other applications
  • allow use of multimedia such as images, videos, and sound files, which enhances the learning experience
  • allow you to easily save and share content
  • enable remote cooperation – users from different locations can connect to the same digital board, which allows for real-time collaboration, brainstorming, and consultation of ideas (this is especially valuable in situations where physical presence is not possible, as we could observe in the case of distance learning during a pandemic)
  • accessibility features, such as zooming options, text-to-speech, and color contrast adjustments, making it easier for people with visual or hearing weaknesses to participate.

While digital whiteboards offer many opportunities, they also have some treats, no less important, which you definitely need to pay attention to.

 

Disadvantages:

 

  • high costs of specialized equipment, such as interactive displays or smartboards; also some software includes subscription or licensing fees
  • susceptibility to technical problems and software errors
  • dependence on a stable power source and internet connection
  • configuration and maintenance of systems require technical knowledge regarding software, hardware, and networking – it is necessary to employ a person who will be able to solve possible disruptions and problems (in the case of a traditional whiteboard, the only threat is a written marker, which the teacher will deal with by choosing the lucky one who will go to the secretariat for new markers)
  • teachers and speakers may need time to master the features of digital whiteboards and use them effectively
  • multimedia functions can distract students – multitasking is not always good
  • hardware solutions (digital whiteboards) are not mobile and they’re also not scalable
  • when addressing a remote or hybrid audience you still need a camera to be seen by students
  • both hardware (digital whiteboards) and software (online whiteboards) solutions use a less comfortable and less human-optimized interface
  • software solutions (online whiteboards) are not a viable solution for in-person or hybrid teaching; they would require double work or ignoring physically present students
  • contact with the screen is unfavorable to health, as it negatively affects the eyesight and reduces physical activity (you don’t even move your hands to erase the entire board, all you need to do is move your finger or wrist); research also shows that the digital world requires less from the brain than a sheet of paper and a pen/board and a marker (here I can refer you to the outstanding experts Nicholas Carr and Anders Hansen or to deep reflection on your own experiences).

 

Of course, technology can introduce many improvements, but you need to think carefully before it replaces all traditional equivalents. I’m not advocating downgrading every technological achievement, but it’s better that humanity doesn’t get choked with them.

Miniself-ad: ShareTheBoard does not give up the traditional board – just saying you can try it for yourself following this link.

Resources

https://www.xp-pen.de/forum-1541.html

https://www.viewsonic.com/library/education/what-is-a-digital-whiteboard/

https://miro.com/online-whiteboard/

https://edu.google.com/jamboard/

https://webwhiteboard.com/

https://explaineverything.com/

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