Remember how you used to spend most of your time in the lecture hall writing in your notebooks what the teacher had written on the board? Looking back, our lives would have been so much easier if we had the modern smartboard or interactive whiteboard in our classrooms.
You didn’t want to miss anything so had to listen and write at the same time. Sometimes it felt like you were competing with the teacher, how fast he could write and erase the board.
Trying to remember everything the lecturers said the whole semester would be impossible so you had to put down notes for reference.
Even at the basic level, teachers would spend time drawing and creating illustrations on the boards for learners only to clean them some minutes later.
These illustrations, if had been available after the lesson would have been an asset to both the learner and the teacher who would most likely have to draw that same illustration again either for the same class or a different one.
This is where online learning had a huge advantage. Lecture content was always available for both learners and teachers to review at any time.
Content reusability is one of the key advantages of online learning while the traditional classroom learning approach seemed to be lacking in that regard.
But with the advancements in technology came the introduction of interactive whiteboards.
These devices either interact directly or through other devices and can be used in classrooms, training rooms, boardrooms, and other meetings.
Modern learners who are used to technology in most other aspects of their lives can easily adapt to this mode of content delivery.Pros of interactive whiteboards for classrooms
In the early stages of this technology, available systems included a mounted normal projector, a short-throw projector, and smartboards.
Smartboards came with an LCD projector, a smartboard, a pen, and software, and required a computer to function.
Once the smartboard, the LCD project, and the computer were connected, the board would then need to be calibrated.
To put this simply, your computer would be connected to both your projector and the smartboard. The projector would display your computer’s screen on the board.
You would then follow the specified steps for your specific smartboard to calibrate the board so the projected screen on the smartboard can serve as a form of a touchscreen.
Once calibration is done, the teacher or learner can use the smartboard to touch the screen of the computer.
As you can imagine, this process is not the most ideal in our modern technological environment.
During this period, one company dominated the market and its name became synonymous with the SMARTboard.
With time, came advancements in technology, one of which is the use of interactive display technology in our classrooms, board rooms, and meetings.
Essentially, these are large smartphones or touchscreen devices equipped with specific features and applications to facilitate annotations, screencasting, and other important aspects of presentations and classrooms.
Our classrooms are evolving and leveraging some of the advantages that make online learning great to ensure students have the best of both worlds.Tips for choosing the best smart board for teaching
In this age of competition, choosing the right product for your specific need can be quite challenging.
This challenge exists in this industry as well since multiple competitors have entered this market.
Competition breeds advancements and competitive prices of products but it can also make it quite a huge task to find the right board for your class.
The first thing to consider when looking for a smartboard for your class is the type of smartboard you need and the budget allocated for its acquisition.
The old projector-based system is no more and the modern interactive displays can be quite expensive especially if the school is on a very low budget.
If you’re on a low budget and only able to buy one for the school, then ensuring that whichever smartboard is chosen comes with an easily moveable stand is very important.
When deciding on a smartboard, it is important to consider the following:• Size and resolution
It is important to note that interactive whiteboards come in different sizes and designs ranging from 55” to 98”.
If the aim is to mount the smartboard, the final decision should put into consideration the size of the room in which it will be mounted as well as the logistics involved.
Most modern interactive displays also come with multi-touch points as well as a well as 4K resolutions.
It is necessary to verify the display quality to provide learners with sharp and clear illustrations and lessons.• Integrated speakers
Although this feature may not be necessary in some cases, ensuring that the device has integrated speakers will help deliver audiovisual (AV) lessons. If speakers are unavailable in the device, ensure that the device can work with Bluetooth speaks and USB speakers.• Warranty
Purchase of this kind requires some security and therefore a warranty should be issued by the seller. Whichever product you decide on needs to be one with a minimum of a 1-year warranty.• Touchpoints
The number of touchpoints on the device is also one important feature to consider when picking an interactive whiteboard for classrooms.
Most modern interactive displays come with 10 or more simultaneous touch points. It is important to select a smartboard with a minimum of 6 touchpoints.• Connectivity
All interactive screens which boast integrated Android or Windows players should come with an Ethernet network interface (LAN- RJ45 Connection) or with embedded Wi-Fi capability.
It should have USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, HDMI inputs, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity.• Software
The whiteboard should be equipped with software to facilitate whiteboard activity, online activities, illustrations, screen sharing, and more.• Multi-writing
If you aim to enable learners to come to the board and write simultaneously, then this functionality is a necessary feature to consider when deciding on a smartboard for your classroom or school.Best smartboards & Interactive Displays for classrooms
Smartboards or interactive displays are currently used not only in the classrooms but in corporate settings for meetings and other aspects of business presentations.
It is also used by online course content creators for their illustrations in some talking head videos.
Interactive whiteboards come in various sizes based on your requirements and are produced by multiple brands including Google, Smarttech, Samsung, and many others.
First on our list is the Samsung Flip 2. This device was created by a brand that is a global leader in the smartphone industry and therefore comes with great hardware.
It has a cool factor as evidenced by its name. When they say “flip”, they mean the device can be flipped upside down.
Flip it into landscape or portrait at any time.
Its whiteboard feature is top of the line. Whether you want your learners to come and paint or draw, Samsung Flip 2 makes the process fun and easy.
Simply choose oil or watercolor and your learners can paint on the screen using any paintbrush of their choice.
If your classroom needs a whiteboard to write, draw, import images, crop, move, resize, import PPT, DOC, and other files, then this smartboard is one to consider.Features of the Samsung Flip 2
If you’re in the market for a smartboard for teaching or meetings, the features of this smartboard make it one of the best options on the market.
It has its limitations but if you mostly need the whiteboard feature to write and draw, this interactive display is one of the best options for you.
My feature on the Samsung Flip 2 is the brush mode which enables the user to use any brush to draw in oil or watercolor.
This makes it great for K-12 learners learning how to draw as this device fosters creativity.
If you need to move the device around, the portable stand option for the 55” display, makes the smartboard easy to move to any location or class.Note:
If you’re thinking of mounting this interactive display on the wall, then the 65” is the best option as the “no gap wall mount” is only available with the 65” model.
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With over two decades in the industry, it’s no wonder Smarttech produces some of the best smartboards for classrooms and businesses on the market.
The Smartboard 7000 series is undeniably one of the best smartboards on the market.
Object Awareness allows teachers to perform mouse functions with their finger, write in digital ink with the pen, and erase with the palm or eraser, all without switching tools or modes.
A variety of gestures can be used in applications and it supports 4 users writing simultaneously.
It is without a doubt one of the best interactive whiteboards for classrooms on the market and should be recommended for any institution in the market for a smartboard.Features of the Smartboard 7000
The Smartboard 7000 series comes fully packed with features geared towards making your class as engaging and fun as possible.
Having gained dominance in this industry in the early stages of this technology, Smarttech has incorporated experiences from their previous models to create a truly incredible whiteboard for the classroom.
If your overall aim is to purchase the best wall-mounted interactive display for your classroom, then the Smartboard 7000 series is the device for your class.
Vibe is a collaboration solution that combines an interactive digital whiteboard and smart software.
With Vibe’s powerful, intuitive technology, teams can innovate, ideate, and collaborate like never before.
It is one of the leading brands in this industry and offers an affordable feature-packed display.
The screen has an almost instantaneous response time giving the appearance of a traditional whiteboard and a marker.
Vibe Cloud is available to save any changes in real-time and works with a large ecosystem of popular workplace apps, like Slack, Dropbox, Teams, Zoom, OneDrive, Chrome, Asana, and many others.Features of the Vibe Interactive Whiteboard
Vibe interactive whiteboard is one of the most recognized brands in this industry. Because of its simplicity and ease of use, it is highly patronized by schools and in business environments.
Whether you are looking for a smartboard for your school or a smartboard for your business meetings and brainstorming session, the Vibe interactive whiteboard is one of the best options available to accomplish the task and more.
With its ability to work with your Android applications, it’s no wonder Vibe is considered to be a leader in this space.
Yes, Samsung made it twice on our list. We love the Flip series that much.
Another from Samsung, the Samsung Interactive Display comes fully packed with great features in a large enough body to be considered an actual classroom whiteboard.
Although the Samsung Interactive Display may be seen by some as just a larger version of the Samsung Flip 2, its massive 85” size gives it a competitive edge.
Understandably, the massive size enables more students to use the display simultaneously.
Featuring a 4K UHD resolution and an advanced digital whiteboard, the Samsung Interactive Display delivers incredible collaborative capabilities for both classrooms and meeting spaces.
With built-in annotation capability, screen mirroring, and up to 20 touchpoints, content creation, and sharing are quick and easy.Features of Samsung Interactive Display
The Samsung Interactive Display also referred to as the 85” Flip 2 in some cases comes with most of the features of the Samsung Flip 2 and some.
At 85” it comes without the flip rotation feature but this doesn’t diminish its performance. The bigger board comes with a smooth pen-to-paper writing mode and a six-digit lock feature.
It can detect 4 stylus usage simultaneously. This smartboard comes from a world leader in the smartphone industry and therefore comes well-equipped with great hardware to get the job done.
Whether you need a smartboard for your classroom or meeting room, the Samsung Interactive Display has got you covered.
Google Jamboard is a collaborative, digital whiteboard that makes it easy for your team to share ideas in real-time and create without boundaries.
It is part of G-Suite and so makes it easy to use other Google offerings like Google Drive, Google Slides, Google Docs, and many more.
Everything you do can be synchronized across multiple devices including other Jamboards, tablets, and phones.
This smartboard is great for collaboration and teachingFeatures of the Google Jamboard
The Google Jamboard is one of the best interactive displays on the market. It comes fully equipped for working with the Google suite of applications.
It is a great tool for team collaboration and can be used in both classrooms and meeting settings.
The Promethean ActivPanel is one of the most recognized brands with respect to interactive display technology.
It comes in two series (Nickel & Titanium) with some differences in functionalities. The Promethean ActivPanel can be wall-mounted or mounted on an adjustable mobile stand.
It is a flexible device that can be used in classrooms for all learner age groups and meeting rooms. The adjustable mobile stand also enables users to easily move the board around.
The Promethean ActivPanel smartboard is purposely designed for the classroom and comes equipped with the features to make lessons interactive.
Promethean ActivPanel comes equipped with its award-winning educational software solution (ClassFlow® and ActivInspire®) options and requires no annual software subscription.Promethean ActivPanel Titanium Features
With 50,000+ schools using Promethean smartboard solutions, it’s one of the best interactive displays on the market with one of the highest usage.
Not having an inbuilt camera may seem like a limitation but the ActivPanel has been tested with some specific cameras that work seamlessly.
Additionally, other untested cameras may also work with the Promethean ActivPanel.
If the camera functionality is key to your use case, simply purchase a tested external camera and the board will recognize the device once it’s connected.
Last on this list is the IPEVO IW2 interactive whiteboard system. Although this device is not, to put it simply, a large smart computer like the others, it makes this list because of the reviews from customers.
This device consists of a sensor cam, an interactive pen, and a wireless receiver. It requires a laptop and a projector to function.
The IPEVO IW2 is a great product for any institution currently looking to acquire a smartboard but is low on funds.
It is able to transform most flat surfaces into an interactive board. Using the ceiling mount can also enable you to permanently position the device in your classroom.
The IW2 comes with IPEVO’s free Annotator software that allows drawing, writing, recording videos, and much more.Features of IPEVO IW2 Interactive whiteboard system
The IW2 is a great tool for annotation and great for using with other interactive drawing and annotation software.
If your school is on a low budget, the IPEVO IW2 is the interactive whiteboard you should choose.
It may not be the best on the list as it doesn’t come with the cool factor other options do. Even so, the IPEVO IW2 is a good choice to make for your interactive classroom.Conclusion
Choosing an interactive display for your classroom or your business meetings or training doesn’t need to be a herculean task.
With multiple options on the market possessing the features you need and more, the choice always comes down to considering the needs of your school and which smartboard is the best fit.
For our top 4 picks, we would go with the Vivo interactive whiteboard, the Smartboard 7000 series, the Promethean ActivPanel, and either the Samsung Flip 2 or the Samsung Interactive Display if with your budget.
These smartboards are all geared towards making your lessons and training or business meetings more interactive, fun, and enjoyable.
Leverage these devices also in school administrative meetings, business ideation, and your only regret will be wondering why you never adopted a smartboard earlier.