Our district is trying to decide if classrooms should be equiped with a projector and an interactive whiteboard or just a projector and wireless slate. Could you please tell me the pro and cons of each? What can you do with the interactive whiteboards that you would not be able to do with the wireless slates? An thoughts, articles, research would be helpful.

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Hi Michelle. Both can be beneficial with the right Professional Development, but what I tend to see is that the slates usually become a teacher-focused tool as opposed to a student focused tool in the classroom. Letting students come up to the SMARTBoard seems to be an easier transition for the bulk of teachers as opposed to them handing off the slates (and the "control" to the students at their seats).

Again, both can be beneficial, but you know your faculty better than anyone else.

Another though though is what about using multiple SMART Slates in the same classroom which will allow multiple students to all annotate simultaneously on whatever document is being shown via the projector? This would be a great implementation for small group cooperative groups, etc..

Just a thought,
Is anyone using multiple slates in the same room? Could you tell me your experience with this?
I am not using a whiteboard or a slate yet. My school is adopting ActivBoards instead of SmartBoards. But their slate technology essentially is a portable tablet which replaces a mouse. This means, I think, that you can only have one slate at a time. Several caveats: I have no idea if this is totally correct and I don't know that the technology is the same for SmartBoards.
I have access to a shared SMARTboard and a Interwrite SchoolPad that is for my exclusive use. The SMART Board is not mounted to my wall but goes on wheels.

Last year I didn't have the school pad and I used the SMART Board a lot. I have a small classroom and it's hard to roll it in. Since I got the School Pad I hardly use the SMART Board anymore, it's just easier to use the School Pad and it seems to work just as well.
I currently have a wall mounted Smart Board and 10 wireless tablets. I have been working with this technology for a little over a year now. In that short time here is what I have learned:

1. Smart board is great if you intend to have students out of their seats actually "interacting" with the board. However, you could equip your class with 4 or 5 wireless tablets for the price of one smart board. If you had a few tablets to spread out through the room, your students could still collaborate on the same project. There is only one cursor on the computer, so they will have to "share." The closest I have been able to come to two people working simultaneously with the board is when one is at the board and one is using a tablet.

2. Annotation tools. I have used Smart tools as well as FlowWorks (standard with a Qomo wireless tablet). In my opinion, Smart tools are far superior.

3. Classroom management. With the wireless slate, you can technically be in two places at once. Your writing is in the front of the room but your are physically anywhere you want to be. Side conversations become non existant when you are standing right next to your chatty kids.

4. Multiple tablets. I have enough tablets so that each group has one. It started to take quite a bit of class time because the students had difficulty with the motor skills required when writing on the tablet but looking on the board to see their work. We have recently started working with Voicethread, so the kids have become better with the tablets. It is probably time to try some more class collaboration with the tablets.

I would recommend having both the smart board and wireless tablet. But if I had to choose one, I would go with the tablet or tablets...hands down. The smart board tends to become a glorified overhead screen if there isn't any professional development.
The points here are very good, and the concept of multiple tablets is interesting as well.

One of the issues, as presented, is the hand - eye coordination and does take some getting used to.

Remember that much of the fucntionality of this technology is driven by the software, not the Board, or the slate. How it gets used in learning is the angle to approach this from.
Clifford raises an excellent point about the hand-eye coordination it takes to use the slates. I am the Technology Facilitator for a new high school with 60 SMARTBoards and accompanying wireless slates. Our teachers have been slow to adopt the slates because of the hand-eye thing and the process of syncing with the blue tooth.

We have found a projector is a must have, and it needs to be ceiling-mounted. Our teachers love their SMARTBoards, and so do the students! Slates, at this point, are superfluous.
I teach using both whiteboards and slates and I prefer the slate mostly because it allows me to move around the classroom and still have control of my content and my class. I like the fact that I can roam the class and pass the slate to students so they can interact, without them leaving their seats (sometimes a classroom management issue depending on the class) While there are some initial hand eye issues, they seem to resolve themselves quickly.
The height of the board when using a slate is not an issue, nor is orientation. I have had good luck with slates in classrooms ranging from grade 2 to 16 (grad school). I also can use the slate with a very large screen, if in a lecture hall.
BTW I think the boards are great I just prefer the slate. I am currently using "Smart" products, I use the AirLiner as my slate.
Some have raised the issue of cost which I think is important if you are dealing with scarce $'s (approx 3 slates to 1 board) you can hit more classrooms. Having said that, what product you decide to use should largely be determined by your need. If confronted with a choice, neither is especially bad.
BTW Smart Technologies (as one might suspect) has a fairly good white paper that supports interactive technology with some good research. Good luck and enjoy your good fortune.
eBeam is a good solution - we have a few at our school and they seem to work well for way less dinero. I think the interactive board is excellent for primary through the end of elem, but ms and hs seem to have had better luck with the wireless slate. You can bring the interaction to the kids rather than making them move to it (the board up front).
As someone pointed out, isn't a slate a glorified wireless mouse? I've used slates before and even I have some coordination issues. Who isn't already comfortable with a mouse? And the price of a wireless mouse comes in way below the slates.

I've had SmartBoards in the past (and InterWrite - clunky), and find them great for teaching technology. The kids see you 'click' on the screen and can follow instructions better than just tracking the cursor with their eyes. As echoed many times over, professional development is key to keep the boards from being really expensive projection screens.
Good Mother of Jesus,

We've just implemented the use of Interactive Boards(??) in our school. We teach EFL and I got really confused trying to follow you guys. We actually have Mimio Boards. We started with them last year and we now have them installed in all our 16 classrooms. Can you help me? From what I could see it seems you are really ahead of us and we are seen as pioneers around here. I'd appreciate if you could tell me the difference between the tools because we tend to refer to them as a single item (Interactive/Digital/E/Mimio Board). Thanks in advance.
Gilmar Mattos (Brazil)
Hi Gilmar,

I have used Mimio for the past few years and am now in a classroom with wireless tablets. As you know the Mimio requires you to use a special pen to control the comptuer when it is projected on a whiteboard. The wireless tablet allows you to do the same thing, but while roaming around the room. As numerous people have mentioned it takes some time getting used to the hand eye coordination. Both Mimio and the wirless tablets have value. As with anything in teaching it really comes down to matching the technology to the teacher and students' needs.


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