Every meeting room in every hotel’s conference center across corporate America has at least one whiteboard hung on the wall. Every day, people stand at the whiteboard and scribble notes while their colleagues frantically copy those notes in their laptops or smartphones, hoping not to miss anything. Too busy writing everything down, many people in the meeting or training session don’t get the chance to actively participate in the discussion. Interactive whiteboards (IWBs) offer a better solution — these technologically advanced whiteboards look like the same dry-erase boards already hanging on the wall, but they enable collaboration and participation.
As the use of IWBs increases, more and more trainers expect to find them in the conferences centers they book. IWBs let people use simple hand gestures or pens to interact with the board, both writing on the board as if with a dry-erase marker or manipulating the content on the board as with a touchscreen. With an IWB, a trainer can record everything written on the board, and send it to participants later. Everyone else in the meeting can work together on the IWB more easily and in creative ways. IWBs engage users’ imaginations and encourage them to collaborate, while accommodating visual, kinesthetic and even auditory learners.
The use of IWBs around the world is growing, says a June 2011 report by Futuresource Consulting, a research firm that specializes in education technology. It found that the IWB market grew in 2010 by 15 percent, which translates into more than 3.6 million globally installed IWBs. In the U.S., the IWB market in 2010 grew to more than $1 billion does for IWB hardware and accessories, according to a recent survey conducted by Education Market Research.
“IWBs enhance the overall learning experience. They can be used to add multimedia, create dynamic lessons or simply add a new level of class participation,” explains Michael Crawford, project manager at Bluedrop Performance Learning, a training company and courseware provider in Newfoundland, Canada. “Simple things like getting a learner to come use a drag-and-drop to answer a question can enhance the learning experience exponentially.”
IWBs are widely used in classrooms, from elementary schools to university lecture halls, but