1. #1
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    Default Interactive Whiteboards

    OK, here's one for you instructors out there. My vollie dept. got some donation money and we're looking into training upgrades. One of the things I've seen around that I'm interested in are the interactive whiteboards, or smartboards as I've heard them called. Anyone have any experiences with them or any input?

    Here's my basic situation. Right now we have no way to do "real" classroom training except for a regular whiteboard (a small one at that) and a tv/vcr. I've got my own laptop to do computer based classes, but no other AV equipment. Looking for a good set-up that's not equipment intensive. I've looked at projectors and screens, then I saw these smartboards. Haven't seen much use of them in the fire service, but the school where my wife works is incorporating them with success. We're looking at typical classes of 15-20 students, at the most 30-35 for big classes with other departments. Any input would be great.

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    We used them in one of my classes. I have no clue who makes them but it was a great addition to the classroom (it was added about halfway through a one-year program).

    For people who have not used them, here is my way of describing them:

    It is basically a dry-erase board that functions as a screen for a projector. It has touch sensors that basically turn the whole thing into a 20 foot long touch-screen. We had fake dry-erase markers that we could use to draw on the screen to draw additional attention to a picture, powerpoint slide. It would draw based on the color of your "dry-erase" marker. Use your finger you could click, double-click, etc on the screen. It was a really great tool.

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    Additionally you could also use the screen without a projector as a plain old dry-erase board.
    Last edited by MarcusKspn; 04-05-2006 at 05:14 PM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusKspn
    Additionally you could also use the screen without a projector as a plain old dry-erase board.
    Now correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've seen they actually have them with the projector build in. Basically like a projection TV, but with the touch-screen. That's more along the lines I'm thinking. Just waiting on a call back from a dealer to find more on pricing and other information.

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    I've seen an interactive whiteboard program that sent an exact picture of what is on the whiteboard to a computer. So, what is drawn on the board can be saved and printed out. It was pretty cool. I havn't seen the program used to project the image onto a larger screen, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusKspn
    It is basically a dry-erase board that functions as a screen for a projector. It has touch sensors that basically turn the whole thing into a 20 foot long touch-screen. We had fake dry-erase markers that we could use to draw on the screen to draw additional attention to a picture, powerpoint slide. It would draw based on the color of your "dry-erase" marker. Use your finger you could click, double-click, etc on the screen. It was a really great tool.

    Please don't go telling people that it's "basically a dry-erase board". It's anything but. It has it's own "markers" that work with the computer. It you use a regular dry erase marker on it you can permanently mark it.

    It's a white plastic screen that hooks up to your computer for presentation purposes.

    Back to the original question; It really depends on how many times you're going to use it that would determine it's usefullness. We have several of them at the fire academy and I'm not sure how many people use them for anything other than a projection screen. It is nice that you can touch the screen to move your powerpoint slide show forward or backward and you can also use the portable mouse to do it by pointing it at the screen.

    Sometimes the marker features can come in handy to circle/emphasize something in a slide. I've tried to use it during a video and it won't work. I tried to circle the number of firefighters working on the car in the Dayton air bag incident before and after the deployment but it wouldn't work.

    You can get more info at their web-site, http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/P.../SMART+Boards/

    You might want to use your donation toward getting a lot of training materials that can be used by your staff on an individual basis rather than blowing it all on something so expensive.

    Good luck.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfyre
    Please don't go telling people that it's "basically a dry-erase board". It's anything but. It has it's own "markers" that work with the computer. It you use a regular dry erase marker on it you can permanently mark it.

    It's a white plastic screen that hooks up to your computer for presentation purposes.
    I am sure there are many different models of this kind of board out there. Like I said before. Ours was permanently build into the wall. It worked with a projector that projected a picture on it just like it would for a regular cloth projector. Ours could also be used as a dry-erase board. That is the material that was used for it. We had a special cleaner to use for the real dry erase markers. The "fake" dry-erase markers make the lines only if the computer that was permanently hooked up on it was turned on. We used the computer exclusively in class. But if there was a group that was allowed to use the class after ours they were able to use it as a dry erase board. We would come in the morning and clean the board if someone else used it.

    Our board was only able to save what you drew if you were using a paint or doodle program. Any dry-erase painting done on any program like powerpoint would be lost later. But it was a great addition to our classroom.

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    Of course I was not there when super-tech guy installed it. The dry-erase part was told to us by the powers to be. May be a possibility that they just did not want anybody to mess with the computer when they were not around.

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    Talking Smartboard

    I teach science and have one of the Smartboards that you are talking about. They are wonderful to have in the classroom. There are three basic parts to the set up.

    1. The computer. Fixed or laptop it doesn't matter. I use a laptop so I can design lessons at home.

    2. The projector. This projects your screen on to the Smartboard. Don't skimp here, you want a projector that is bright enough to use with the lights on.

    3. The Smartboard. This allows you to interact with your computer by touching the Smartboard. For example if you would normally double-click on an icon to open a program you would use your finger and tap twice on the icon on the Smartboard. If you want to drag the pointer, you place your finger on the pointer and drag it across the Smartboard to wher you want it.

    The markers are only for drawing onto the screen and they are a little difficult to use but they are handy for emphasizing points. There are also lots of other little built in tools that can make a presentation better.

    The big question is should you spend the money ($2500 for Smartboard and projector) to purchase one of these toys. To answer this you must consider how you will use the computer in training. Are you mainly going to show PowerPoint presentations? Then don't spend the money, buy a good projector and a presentation mouse and you are good. Do you do the PowerPoints along with programs that would require you to interact with the computer while you teach? If so this tool is invaluable. I have used the You Make the Call activities from this site in training and being able to be in front of the class and manipulate the computer was great.

    I am in the process of moving all of my notes over to PowerPoints for all of my classes and am very excited to have the Smartboard, it expands what it is possible for me to show my students. Their are other reasons I am excited about it but they may not apply here, classroom management, dealing with disruptive students, etc. If you have any questions, let me know.

    P.S. The Smartboards come in different sizes, by the biggest you can afford, you will really be glad

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    Quote Originally Posted by leoestill
    The markers are only for drawing onto the screen and they are a little difficult to use but they are handy for emphasizing points. There are also lots of other little built in tools that can make a presentation better.
    That's why I take the marker out of it's holder and just use my finger to make any marks or notes.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

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    Smartboards are great tools. In my career job, I use a Smartboard or a Sympodium almost everyday.

    But I wouldn't get one for my FD for training purposes unless training already had everything else they need.

    Depending on your budget, and not knowing what training materials you already have, I'd add a 3,000 lumen projector, a boom box for sound, and a training library to enhance your program. Paint a wall flat non-gloss white and shine the projector on that.

    I "inherited" a fully stocked training library with IFSTA, American Heat and numerous other higher tech training aids, and none of these items has made 25% as much difference in performance as getting back to the basics with hands-on training.

    Dragonfyre - if you DVDize/mpeg, or otherwise run the video through the computer using Windws Media Player, the SmartBoard should work for you
    www.gvfd.org

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottCook
    Dragonfyre - if you DVDize/mpeg, or otherwise run the video through the computer using Windws Media Player, the SmartBoard should work for you
    I realize that. We're still waiting for the academy to get the equipment to imbed videos into our powerpoint presentations. The community college promised it 2 years ago but we're still waiting. Can't complain though as they did purchase all the smartboards for us.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

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