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Electronic White Board For under 100 dollars

Updated on January 19, 2011

The Problem of Bring Technology into the Classroom

As a teacher, I am constantly looking for new ways to integrate technology into my classroom. Connecting my teacher station computer to an LCD projector is one way of doing it; however, this does have one major drawback. While I’m up in front of the class explaining what is being projected from my computer everything is fine, until I have to change screens or move the image up or down. Having to constantly go back to the computer to change images or move the image causes delays which causes the students get off task, which disrupts the learning environment. Many a good lesson plan has spiraled out of control due to a lot less of a disruption.

Johnny Chung and the Wii Mote

I didn’t want to give up the use of the screen image being projected onto the White board through the LCD projector. It is too valuable a tool not to use. It is imperative for teachers to be able to use their computer, located on their desk, from the front of the classroom. I was bemoaning this fact to one of my colleagues, who has a Smart Board in her classroom, when she told me about Johnny Chung’s website and a low cost type E-board. Being the die hard do it yourselfer I couldn’t resist.

Johnny Chung, “an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer; Interaction Institute”, developed a computer program which allows the infrared camera in the Wii remote to recognize a LED Infrared (IR) pen as a remote mouse. This program does not have any difficult configurations or special programming skills that the end user needs to know; it is basically a downloadable play program and ready to go. The good news is the computer program that turns the Wii remote into a wireless interface is free; the IR pen does not take any special skill to construct, and the pen can be built in a minimum amount of time. Although, you will need to purchase a few things to get the system and running.

Building the IR Pen

Chung’s website has a simple diagram that shows you how to wire up your pen. The direction says any battery over 1.5 volts will need a resistor. I tried that but it reduced the beam being emitted from the IR light so the Wii remote could not pick up the beam. Once I took the resistor off the IR pen worked fine.

The pen casing was an old dry erase maker that I took the wick out of and cleaned up, everything fits inside, except the switch. The switch was a standard interrupt switch. Press the button down and the IR light is on. Release the button and the IR light is turned off. A soldering iron does a nice job of making a round hole in the casing to insert the switch. Use a hot glue gun to glue the switch in place and you have a functional IR pen.

Does This Really Work

The question everyone is probably asking is does this really work? If your expecting to get a full fledge one hundred percent functioning interactive E board well, that is not going to happen; still, you will have E-board capability of around seventy-five percent.

There are some minor inconveniences. This system relies on an infrared camera and an infrared light source, so any blocking of the IR camera or the IR light source will make the system inoperable. The Wii remote needs to be within a certain distant of the board to be able to pick up the IR light; also the Wii remote must be calibrated every time you turn it on or you move the project. You will need to experiment with distant and angle to find the optimal placement of the camera. That being said it is still an excellent system to implement in your classroom.

How I have Used This Program

With this system you are able to control your computer from the screen image projected onto your white board. The only thing you cannot do is type, unless you have a screen keyboard program on your computer. In that case you can use the IR pen to manipulate the keys. It works, but it takes practice to become proficient at using the screen keyboard. .

The great thing about this system is its ease of use and the versatility it gives the teacher in using the computer in the classroom. Some of the things I have done with this system are:

  • Projecting the on line textbook on to the screen and doing a shared reading of the story, highlighting text and dialogue
  • Using Publish It, I have set up two column notes to model proper note taking skills, Semantic webs, set up research note cards, Venn Diagrams, Graphic organizers etc.
  • Review student essays, without their name, to demonstrate proof reading techniques, sentence construction, proper grammar usage

I have only scratched the surface of the possible uses of this system. I’m still experimenting with what I can do with this system.


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