Interactive Whiteboard

Interactive WhiteboardMoore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. In English, this basically means that our technology is half the price and twice as powerful every two years. With this type of progress being made since the laws creation in 1965, we now expect technology to move at an astounding rate.

One technology that has impacted many classrooms since being introduced in the early 90’s is the the Interactive Whiteboard. A marvellous leap from working with chalk and pen, the Interactive Whiteboard took digital off the PC and put it at the head of the class. Evolving and improving over the last twenty years, the boards are much more intelligent than in the early nineties. But, as Moore’s Law marches on, we can expect the Interactive Whiteboard as we know it to be put to bed.

Here are 3 technologies that will help take the Interactive Whiteboard to brave new places.


Interactive Whiteboard – The Next Generation

Touch Screens

Yes, many Interactive Whiteboards have touch screens. And many now also have multi-touch. But with quality touch screens becoming so cheap and the size growing everyday, we may find blackboard sized iPads stuck to the wall soon enough. Technology such as TapSense allows touch screens to distinguish what part of the hand is used for input, such as the fingertip, knuckle and fingernail. This could allow all sorts of gestures and manipulation that make the board a much more intuitive device to use. With no need for projectors, pens or PCs an all in one “Touchboard” will make a much more interactive and convenient piece of hardware. Also, with rumours of the next generation Apple TV floating around over the past few weeks, could we see Apple unintentionally enter the Interactive Whiteboard market? A bit of a long shot, but let’s wait and see.



Many Interactive Whiteboards rely on proprietary software to run programs and applications. This is particularly limiting for large publishers who need to re-format their content in specific Interactive Whiteboard formats. With HTML5 setting out to standardize formats, it is a lot easier for content creators to publish in this one device agnostic form than create multiple copies for different devices. Leaps and bounds have been made in HTML5 allowing web content to be much more interactive and engaging than ever before. The animation, functionality and features of HTML5 mean that third party software is no longer necessary and publishers do not need to rely on device specific software. We have seen a similar trend in the decline of Flash since Apple and other device manufacturers ceased support for the technology. HTML5 means that the exact same interactive content can be be viewed on desktop machines, mobile devices and Interactive Whiteboards.


Motion Sensing Technology

In general, Interactive Whiteboards have one input. The screen. But imagine a board, mounted with a camera, that can detect everything going on in the room. Much like Microsoft’s Kinect, this technology could be incorporated into the board to allow all sorts of student engagement. Boards could be used to easily video-conference with other classes, educational institutions and relevant locations. Multiple students could interact with the board from their desks, leading to much more personalized engagement and learning. This type of collaboration and interaction could also see the Interactive Whiteboard take on a completely different role in the class, seen as two-way conversation. Similar to the Kinect, physical interaction with the board could also pave the way for a much more gamified approach to learning and could even inspire a whole new wave of game development.


According to Moore’s law, technology will always improve. Unfortunately, more often than not, schools are one of the last places to see the benefit of these advances. But, the flip side of Moore’s Law does mean that as technology advances it also becomes more affordable. It is doubtful that we will see Apple and Microsoft competing for the front of the classroom just yet, but be ready for a big change in this space soon.


Are you using Interactive Whiteboards in your class? And how do you see them looking in five to ten years time?


Image courtesy of Flickr, longhorndave


  1. I think this is a somewhat misleading article that doesn’t take into consideration the pedagogy of using an IWB in the classroom and why IWB can help increase learning in the classroom. It also leaves out any information about IWB software and its effectiveness in allowing “teachers,” not developers, to create their own interactive content. (The Notebook software that comes with the SMART Board allows HTML5 widgets to be inserted directly into the software.) Lastly, it’s not about the hardware, it’s about the software. Anyone can make their own IWB for under $100, that’s not the point. IWBs should be a standard piece of hardware in the classroom, but it’s the software that will ultimately determine their effectiveness. ~Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the very well thought comments James. You are quite right that pedagogy was not delved into and forms a very large (and essentially the most important) part of the picture. I think in regards to software, a lot of the frustration comes out of the lack of standardization between IWB brands. As in many hardware/software solutions, companies tend to opt for either a closed (eg. Apple iOS) or open (eg. Google Android) system. Most IWB companies control a more closed system that provides a more seamless user experience, but makes it more difficult for third parties to create software. I do think opening up and standardizing these systems would allow for a lot more innovation on the software front. You are completely right though… Software does ultimately determine their effectiveness. Cheers

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