I used to wish my school would spring for an interactive whiteboard. This year, however, I got a projector in my room and recently added a wireless drawing pad. After using these, I don't see much need for an interactive whiteboard.

With google docs, sketchcast, and another tool I just found - Imagination Cubed, I can do most things I've seen iboards do. When I throw in the wireless sketchpad, I have even more freedom and the kids can "manipulate" things on screen themselves. ( I've written more about the tools I use on my blog).

All this comes for significantly less money than iboards. Does anyone else use a similar setup? Are there iboard users who think that a simple projector and sketchpad can't measure up?

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I have been wanting to use a wireless slate too. I teach 4th grade and they put the Smartboard so low that most of my kids cannot see over the heads of the kids sitting in front. They do not pay attention until it is their turn. I use it a lot, but they still don't seem to be interested. I also have Clickers and the group of kids I have don't do well with them either. I guess it is just one of those years. They just push buttons or guess...they get horrible grades on the clickers. I even tried having the students writing on paper, then using the clickers. Paper scores are better!

I would like some advice on the wireless slate. I have tried to read on the internet, but it is confusing to me. I don't understand how JUST a wireless mouse is the same as a wireless slate. Can someone explain that to me? What do kids write on if there is no slate? I have read about wireless pens too. What do they actually write on? A special paper...the desk? Should I get a wireless keyboard and mouse?

I have a Microsoft desktop and an Apple laptop with wireless network. The smartboard is connected to the desktop AND the laptop so I can switch back and forth with the push of a button. I also have it hooked up to a receiver with speakers in the ceiling. All of this was bought just this year. I use the smartboard for interactive stuff AND as a glorified whiteboard to project tests on since my clickers are a different brand. I project the student textbooks and all workbook pages. I think I have mentioned everything I have and how I use it.....so now I need to figure out how to get a cheap wireless slate or tablet. Is the tablet a PC or is it just a graphics drawing tablet? I can't afford a PC...I think I need a wireless slate because I don't want kids to move when I teach math. I want them to stay at their seats (for some things) and use the slate to show their work on the smartboard so everyone in the room can see. (remember that heads are in the way since the boards are so low.)

Any advice for what to purchase and where to purchase it? I have about $125.00 of school money to spend, but that won't buy everything. I will not be able to use the internet since I have to use a purchase order. I will have to pay the rest on my own. I know the wired version is cheaper, but it has to stay attached to the computer....no way to pass the slate around. I will appreciate any advice you can give me. Also, please give me lots of details.....technologically challenged here....for the most part. Thanks! Peke
I forgot one question. If I had multiple drawing pads, could the kids use them at the same time?
OR can only one person at a time draw on the pad to project on the board? Peke
Dear Patti,

Wireless slates, pens, mice and interactive white boards are all input devices. They all allow you to control the computer's software from a remote location. It is the software that performs all the interactive presentations that we see on the board.

Wireless slates use a small board and a pen. The slate and pen combination perform the functions of a mouse with the added feature of "writing with a pen." A wireless slate has no image that can be seen on the slate. It is blind. The only image is on the projection screen. Some slates have a hover feature: when the pen is near the surface of the slate, the arrow icon appears on the screen, indicating the position of the pen before you write or control any function.
To use a slate, you have to look at the screen to control or annotate. It takes a little practice to know where the pen is and watch the projection screen at the same time. Some slates can support up to 30 users at a time. BUT each student has to take a turn controlling the computer.

A wireless mouse will do everything the slate will do, without the writing ability of the pen.
Some new systems integrate the slate with a student response system. These systems are more expensive and are sold as classroom pakages. The prices will decrease as more companies introduce these systems into the market.

There are a few types of wireless pens.
Some are used mainly to capture writing and drawings into the pen's receiver and then transffered to a computer. These will not be useful for your needs.
There are new "wireless mouse pens", not yet introduced into the market. It is exactly as the name describes. A pen that is a laser mouse with a left and right click function.. No slate is needed. It has a USB docking station for recharging.

A graphics tablet is primarly designed to draw or write into a computer software program. Some may be able to control the computer, I am not sure, I have not personally tested any of these devices.
The Bamboo models from Wacom are in the $80,00 range.

The new iPad and soon to be introduced PC tablets are full lightweight LIVE computers. They will wirelessly connect to projectors and control all classroom functions. Their touchscreens will allow you to control and annotate without looking up!

If you want to show student's work on the screen, you'll need a document camera. You did not mention one in your question. $125.00 will not buy a popular brand document camera, but there is hope. RM Education has a low priced document camera in its European market. I am trying to convince them to send me one for evaluation. If it works well, I'll encourage them further.(that means put my money where my mouth is) This device retails at $140.00. It is a webcam based camera with auto-focus and built-in lighting. Could be a great product for the US market. Two other webcam cameras are available: the HUE HD and the Ipevo P2V. Both of these are LOW PRICED, around $50-$80 dollars, Both have bases that can point them downward for document viewing. I have not tested these.
Well that covers all the bases. Any input device will operate any interactive whiteboard software. Some companies strongly encourage you to buy their equipment only. They imply that other systems will not work as well. Not always true.
I hope that I have helped. JJC
Thanks John. That explains a lot! What I really want is to be able to hand a child a mouse type pen at their desk just for the purposes of doing math computation on the smartboard. Time saver! I thought maybe 2-3 pens would allow that number of students to "compete" like with a marker board. So my question is...Will the smartboard software support multiple users like mouses? I guess not. That is maybe why the graphics boards are needed. They will allow for multiple users in their software????

I did see one mouse pen that students can use on their desk..and any surface...online? It was $800.00 so it was way too expensive.

I found one wireless slate....with no name brand attached to it. Around $65.00. Worries me that there is no name...could be a scam? Anyway I will find it again and post it here to see if anyone has ever used it. Thanks for your help. Patti
We have Interwrite (now eInstruction) SchoolPads. You can have as many as 7 running in a classroom at one time. They connect via bluetooth to the main computer. The teacher can maintain control over all pads in the room. They aren't $65 though - but they are much less than a SMART Board.
Dear Patti,

Wacom is the primary manufacturer of wireless slate technology. They also produce slates for other companies. Any wireless slate should work. However, it will be one student at a time.
I do not believe that any interactive software can handle multiple users. I may be wrong. I'll do a little research on the manufacturer's websites.
I like the idea!, to have 3 students input their work into a section of the whiteboard, as if they were standing in front of the blackboard. There should be a fairly simple software solution that involves collaboration. I have Easiteach and Smart software downloaded in my computers, I'll search there as well.
Good Ideas always invite innovation.
Thanks to all!

I drive my husband crazy....I think up things to do all the time. Some work....and some don't. Now if I could just "imagine" something to supplement my teacher salary! I am going to try the no name slate and hope for the best. Wish I could write software! Thanks again. I will post if the slate works. Patti
There are many wireless tablets available. Most cost in the neighborhood of $300-400 and unlike the interactive whiteboards you can roma the classroom and get students involved.
I bought the no name wireless graphics tablet that I thought was $65.00. It was only $49.00 so that helped some. It is supposed to work with XP Vista (no comma to show XP and Vista???) and MAC. So far it doesn't work with XP, but it DOES work with Windows 7. I used to have Vista until I upgraded to Win 7 - 64 bit. I haven't tried it with MAC yet.

With Win 7, I can use it up to 12-15 feet away from the laptop. I stood to the side of the laptop and the front about 12-15 feet away and all locations worked. Soon I can try it at school, but I have to bring my personal laptop since it can't be installed on the school's computer. I have been waiting all year for Exam View to be installed so I won't hold my breath for this software to be installed. Our IT guys are way too busy with security issues at high school and middle school and other issues.....very busy people and not enough people hired to help them.

I can move the mouse with the tablet and click on things. I can also annotate items and draw. Of course most people would see my "art work" and say that is drawing??? It will take getting used to. I cannot sign my name yet like an adult, but it has the capability of signing things in emails and docs. It also has a handwriting recognition software, but I haven't tried it yet.

"Pen" takes one AAA battery and tablet takes two AA batteries. The IR dongle is so tiny that I just know it will be lost soon. It fits into the opened battery compartment of the tablet. I don't know what will happen when I lose the IR dongle. In a class of 4th graders, it is bound to happen. It also comes with a USB cord to be a wired tablet. So wireless means battery expenses, but at least it wasn't $300.00. If the students drop it or break it, it will not be that much of a loss.....just if I cannot find another one.

I think they are on clearance or something. I hope this helps those that can't afford an expensive slate. It might even be a cheap alternative to see if you really want a slate or to see if the younger students can even use the slate. I will post again if I can get the software working with XP. I will also try it in my classroom tomorrow with Win 7. I think the kids will like it.
I forgot....it also has a plastic thing on top of the pad where you can put a picture underneath and trace it.
Dear Patti,
I am over 60 and still have a hard time writing like an adult....even with a regular pen and paper.

I have found that Widows 64bit systems are not compatible with most educational software programs. The document camera operating software just does not work. SO...I switched to Windows 7 32bit. I now can use my laptop when I visit schools to demo the equipment.

Once again, the interactive software contains all the bells and whistles, the WBoard itself is an input device, a giant PEN/Tablet that is attached to a wall. Wireless tablets/slates will continue to be expensive as long as there is a demand from schools. Competetion among the companies will lower the unit pricing....But there is a floor, a bottom price. Below that point, there is not enough profit to import, store, advertise and distribute the product.
Stimulus money will maintain higher unit prices.

Keep an eye on that IR dongle, I am sure that you cannot replace it, without buying a whole new unit.
It is strange that it works with Windows 7 - 64 bit when it was made for Windows XP and Vista. I just can't get it to work with XP. The company said they can't find a new software disk to send me to fix it. They also said they don't have any more of the tablets.

So now I have to decide...keep the tablet or return it. I can't really use my win 7 laptop at school since it doesn't work with Notebook 10. Besides that I can't figure out how to connect it to a projector since I do not have a VGA connection on the laptop. My XP laptop does, but the tablet doesn't work with it.

Shoot, I thought I had a cheap resolution for a wireless tablet. I guess I could use it at home, but I have no clue why I would need it for home use.




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