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Using an Interactive Whiteboard in the Classroom

Updated on October 19, 2011
Teacher guided instruction using a Promethean Board.
Teacher guided instruction using a Promethean Board. | Source

Technology changes very quickly. I am not one to keep up on the latest and greatest gadgets in the world of technology. With the speed at which technology changes, it is very important to make sure that children are privy to the latest technology. In fact, one of the charges in the new common core standards that are coming into effect in 2014 is that students must be technologically proficient. One of the ways that many schools and districts are stepping up their technology within classrooms is by using interactive white boards. If you do not know what this is, perhaps you know them by their brand name. Some of the most common are SMART boards, Promethean Boards, and ActivBoards.

How do they work?

Interactive white boards are connected to a computer. The computer uses either software or a program from a supported website to allow students to interact with the images that are projected onto the white board. I will not go into any more detail about the technology part of what makes it work because I am a teacher and not a technology person. In fact my school has just recently purchased and provided some training for our teachers to use these boards. I will admit, I'm still in the midst of the learning curve!

Students interacting with the Promethean Board.
Students interacting with the Promethean Board. | Source

What are the advantages?

There are a lot of advantages that I have seen in using these boards in my classroom. Currently we have only two in our building so we share them. However we are slated to receive them in our classrooms this coming school year, so this teacher is very excited! Why? Because of the wonderful things that are possible with these boards. Remember, they are interactive. Using a special pen, students are able to manipulate information on the board. They can answer questions by writing on an answer, choosing a correct letter, matching items and more.

I can say that I have seen the interest level go way up in my students on the days that we use our Promethean Board. They are much more engaged and excited about what they are learning. I mean who wouldn't be? Do you remember your teacher writing things that you either needed to copy or learn from the chalkboard? If you were lucky your teacher might have used some colored chalk! With the interactive white boards, you are able to watch videos, save lesson plans for students who were absent that day, and check learning through interactive quizes. Teachers of younger students are able to teach phonemic awareness by reading stories together that have a specific lesson focus like a particular letter sound. All subject areas are able to be used on these boards. Really the possibilities for using this board are limited to your imagination. And it is all colorful and exciting!

From a planning perspective, it is also nice because you can create plans and save them. If students need to refresh their minds about the ideas that were presented that day, you can easily access them. Unlike in the past where something is written on the board and erased after the lesson.

Students use a special pen to record their responses.
Students use a special pen to record their responses. | Source

What are the disadvantages?

Like with all technology, there are disadvantages. The pen is a critical part of the interaction. If the pen is damaged or lost then the interaction cannot take place unless the pen is replaced, and it is expensive. If the computer system is down then you will not be able to access the lesson that you have planned. There is an amount of students sitting and waiting while another student manipulates the information. This can create some distractions for those students. Finally the cost. It is very expensive to purchase one of these boards. Districts and schools that are cash strapped my find it hard to obtain this type of technology. However, my school is one of those schools and we were able to get these. Be creative. Find grants, look for sponsors in the community, and if your school is a Title I school, check to see if this qualifies under Title funds. In my opinion, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.


There are many resources out there for the different interactive white boards that are available. If your school uses the Promethean Board as mine does, there is a website called Promethean Planet. You do need to register but many activities, in all subject areas, are free. Simply type in the topic and search. There are also other software programs that can be used. Some of these are ActivInspire, Kidspiration, and Inspiration. There are also dvds that are being developed by various companies that allow you to download the program onto your computer. The subjects are wide ranging and even include some interactive games that reinforce different skills and concepts. Many of these can be used on your computer even if you do not have an interactive white board. So you can use it at home to test it out or for your own kids!


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    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      You're welcome VirginiaLynne. We have just recently got them in our school and it has been interesting using them. They are really awesome but there's a big learning curve for us teachers! :)

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      6 years ago from United States

      I'd heard about smartboards but didn't know what they were. Thanks for the information!

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Mom. I know that I am knowledgeable but not necessarily proficient. I appreciate your comments.

      I agree Robin that training teachers is critical both to the proper use of the equipment as well as the longevity of the use of the technology. I am still learning but enjoying the process. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      My daughters's school has white boards in all the classrooms and the teachers and kids love them. From what I've seen they are fairly easy to use for teachers, even the older teachers that are less technologically savvy, use them everyday. I have a feeling the training for teachers is the most important part of the process; the kids seem to just get it quickly. Thanks for the overview! :D

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      I love the idea of the interactive board. I think you short change yourself in your tech abilities-I know you have helped me on more than one occasion with a long distance tutorial on my tech problems re: computers. Voted up and useful.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Michigan

      The projectors are not bad. I think that it's that angle of the photos that makes it seem that it's a little washed out but the quality is actually really good. My biggest complaint with our system is that the projectors are on a cart rather than mounted high on the wall. This makes it hard when anyone tries to interact with the whiteboard, they block part of the projection. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Bud.

    • Bud Gallant profile image

      Bud Gallant 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Interesting hub. I'm definitely a fan of adding more interactive mediums into schools, but I can't say I like projectors too much... Not even sure why... Just something about them. I'd be nice if the screen could operate without the projector. More like an interactive TV. I think the picture quality would be much higher, as well. It's hard to tell exactly, as I've never seen one in person, but judging by the pictures, it seems faded and washed out.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Stephanie. I am really a novice at using them but I really like it and so do my kids. I expect that I will become much more proficient this year when they are placed in our classrooms. (((AHHHH)))) I cannot believe teachers would use regular markers on those boards!!! That must have been so frustrating.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Cara, another great hub about a specific aspect of learning in the classroom. I remember begin trained in using a whiteboard, but only used it like one time. At both the high school and higher ed level there were problems with teachers using regular markers on the boards and ruining them.

    • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Yikes! Thanks for pointing that out. Sometimes no matter how much you look at something, you still miss it! I know what you mean about the budget. We were very lucky to get the new boards through our Title I budget. We are a very poor district and have been lacking greatly in the area of technology. Our new superintendent is really making this a big push for us.

      I'm not sure about emailing the lessons home. I have not tried that. Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate your feedback.

    • sriparna profile image


      7 years ago from New Delhi

      Yeah, I can imagine children maximising their enthusiasm and engagement in learning with Smart Boards. In our school, unfortunately, the cost factor has still not been overcome, we're still hoping that we get one or two interactive boards for our students. So this hub reminded me of that fact that we need to push our budget. Also I have heard that students who have not attended school due to sickness etc. can be sent the lessons learnt in the classroom through email. Is that true?

      Cardelean: If you don't mind, please correct the spelling of "interactive" in your hub title, please don't think otherwise!


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