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How Can A Digital Whiteboard Enhance A Classroom Or Boardroom

How a Digital Whiteboard Can Change the Classroom and the Boardroom

Whether delivering a critical presentation, employee training or a complex math lesson, a digital whiteboard provides the perfect medium to do so. Digital whiteboards are being rapidly improved upon, and current generation models provide incredible functionality, usability and versatility. If your organization relies on visual communications to any extent, a digital whiteboard is a smart choice.

What is a digital whiteboard?

Although people use terms like “digital whiteboard,” “interactive whiteboard” and “interactive flat panel” interchangeably, they are not all the same technology. Digital whiteboards and interactive whiteboards operate using a screen and projector combo, with the projector connected to a computer. The projector outputs what is on the computer screen to the display screen, and the display can be controlled using gestures, a stylus or a pen. In this instance, the projector is a short throw projector, which means it can sit close to the display screen and still provide a full, clear image. An interactive flat panel is different. It is an all-in-one unit, and looks much like a standard LED display. However, it comes with multi-touch screen technology, which may be driven by IR cameras, electromagnetic resonance (EMR), capacitive touch or some other form of pressure sensing engineering. Interactive flat panels usually come with an onboard processor and hard drive, so they function like a large tablet or mobile phone. In this case, though, the interactive flat panel is much more sophisticated and allows for more in-depth applications. Digital whiteboards and interactive flat panels both have their place, though the industry is moving more and more toward flat panels. That’s largely due to the improved control, display quality and functionality that interactive flat panels offer. However, a digital whiteboard may be a more cost-effective option in some settings.

How can a digital whiteboard improve meetings and lessons?

A digital whiteboard can be the workhorse of the classroom or meeting room, for several reasons. In most cases, a digital whiteboard is intended to replace a standard whiteboard or overhead projector, as these technologies have long been rendered obsolete. Here’s why companies and schools should consider the switch to a digital whiteboard:
  1. Additional flexibility – A digital whiteboard is connected to a computer to power the display. This gives teachers and professionals plenty of utility, as they can display whatever they wish from their laptop. Images, videos, websites – with a digital whiteboard, these can be shared in moments, allowing for more engaging and involved presentations.
  2. Easier to control – Yes, the teacher or meeting head will need to remain close enough to the projector to control everything, but this can be done without taking eyes off the audience. Everything is done with simple controls and nothing has to be written, so the presenter can keep their eyes up and in command of the presentation at all times.
  3. Greater functionality – A digital whiteboard can display anything a computer can do, which means it works well with all kinds of applications. This includes collaboration-oriented applications, like whiteboarding and generating ideas. With simple gestures, users can annotate, scrub through media or rapidly navigate the internet.

Which is better: digital whiteboards or interactive flat panels?

Here’s the answer you were probably expecting: It depends. Projectors are the older technology between the two, and they have enjoyed a long run of success. Interactive flat panels are the new display kid on the block, and they have a more optimistic future in front of them. However, while interactive flat panels do come with some impressive advantages, some districts have to prioritize their budgets higher, and for those districts, an interactive whiteboard and projector may be more reasonable. Of course, cost advantages are extremely fluid in the technology space, and as manufacturing improves, it’s likely that interactive flat panels will eventually be the winner in cost as well. In fact, many AV integrators already recommend interactive flat panels on price, as they require little maintenance during their lifespan, and don’t even require a lamp replacement, like projectors do. A digital whiteboard and projector combo are usually the answer when price is the limiting factor. Fortunately, some current generation projectors are capable of ultra-HD resolution, which is comparable to the best interactive flat panels. Another advantage that digital whiteboards offer is their ability to fill a large room. Some projectors can output images as large as 150 inches on one side, which is considerably larger than even the biggest interactive flat panels. Everything else, though, is in the interactive flat panel’s favor. Interactive flat panels, again, require little maintenance, so they provide an operating cost advantage. They are also much brighter and appear more vivid than projectors, so they tend to grab attention and hold it. Further, interactive flat panels are backlit, like most other digital displays. This means they are unaffected by shadows, and that’s a frequent issue with any projector, even short throw models. Interactive flat panels can also accommodate additional simultaneous point of touch. This means several people can use the display at once, and use more advanced gestures to control the display. Interactive flat panels also offer a huge usability advantage, as there is no need to connect the flat panel to a computer, and most flat panels use familiar mobile interfaces in their applications. This can be especially important for the classroom, where students will need to get used to the device with little training. Fortunately, interactive flat panels are designed for people who have experience operating a phone or tablet, which is nearly everyone at this point. With a variety of technologies available at varying price points, schools and businesses have options in the ways they communicate, whether using a digital whiteboard or a more interactive technology.