Does anyone have experience with both Promethean and SmartBoard to compare the two? Our school has dipped a toe in the water and is wanting to go much deeper, therefore we're looking for further information. Is there a preference for younger and older primary children?

I've heard there have been problems with SmartBoard. Any comments?

The fact that Smart notebook software can be freely used by anyone is an important factor for teachers preparing lessons at home.

7th April 2009.
I should add that Promethean now have released Inspire that can be freely loaded to ANY computer and can be used with ANY interactive whiteboard and can read several (all?) other IWB brand files, which at least puts them at level-pegging in terms of access to the software.

The Promethean 'free' software is limited in what it can do. It does not allow you to create lessons, which destroys its usefulness for me.

Tags: IWB, Promethean, Smart, iboards

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Ahh, Chevy vs. Ford debates, y’all have to love them.

I have been following this thread on and off for several months, as I recently was on the team that made our school’s decision on this subject. Mr. Magana makes a good point that you should look at the entire company, and that’s the reason I joined--to post about why we decided NOT to go with Promethean. I’m not going to advocate for Smart, the company we purchased from, as I don’t believe I should advocate for anyone, but I will give the story why we didn’t choose Promethean.

First of all, I have a background in marketing and teach my juniors and seniors (and colleagues) how to be savvy consumers. I teach how to not get sucked in by slogans and marketing and the importance of due diligence. We used similar techniques to decide on our recent technology packages--on all kinds.

The first thing we didn’t like is the negativity of Promethean. They really made us feel that if we went with Smart that we would be doing the kids a disservice. They really only did two things: talk poorly about Smart and try to wow us with features and buzzwords. Anyone who has taken basic marketing knows that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) are used by companies trying to take down the top dog. I will give them credit on one thing; they did a great job with a wow factor, and I have no doubt their software has more bells and whistles than others, but then how many people need all the features? I think Promethean’s marketing is much better than Smart. I mean “by educators, for educators” is a great slogan, but I don’t think they corner the market on being for educators—some due diligence will show that Promethean started as corporate company just like Smart (that part used to be on the promethean website—and still was when we were investigating the companies).

The second thing we didn’t like was the mis-information. We were told that Smart didn’t sell certain products, and a quick search of their site showed they in fact did and had. We were told that Smart only mostly to government and business and that Promethean was the leader in education—again more due diligence on our part away from the vendors proved that none of that was true. Smart has a separate corporate line and sells more whiteboards to schools than promethean by a wide margin. This is all part of being an informed consumer.

The third thing is what really brought me on here to respond, and this is my personal experience and not of the group’s. At this year’s NECC over in Texas, I attended presentations and sessions by many whiteboard companies and something happened that really made me raise an eyebrow to Promethean. I was sitting in the Smart booth, and in the middle of the presentation, someone from Promethean interrupted and walked right in to give away a Promethean Board. The teacher who won the board stood up and cheered, of course this disrupted the entire thing. I thought that was really in bad taste, as I was sitting a couple of seats away when she screamed with delight. Mr. Magana, I believe that was you who was one of the people there from Promethean, because I read your tag that was only a few inches in front of my face…unless there is another Sonny Magana who works there (I have a unique last name too, so I remember them). I thought you shouldn't have gone into their booth AND shouldn't have disrupted someone's presentation. Apparently that wasn't the first time someone from your company did it, but that's just hearsay on my part.

Fast forward to last month’s Super Bowl, one of my colleagues was in Arizona visiting family and cheering on her beloved Cardinals and what does she bring back? A newspaper article where Promethean was chastized by the state’s Attorney General for taking part in an alleged bribery scandal. A simple Google search brings up the articles, which I will post here. Innocent until proven guilty is a foundation of our country, but this made us feel good about not selecting them. We’re not naive and know this happens in business, and no company is perfectly ethical, but I thought it should be pointed out. I think our overall feeling that Promethean isn’t the company for us is well-founded.

Going back to my original car analogy, just because Kia says their quality is the same as Toyota while giving drivers more features, doesn’t mean it’s true. In our case, we think we got the Toyota over the Kia, based on looking under the hood. As teachers, research should be our strong point, and we shouldn’t let companies dictate our thoughts.

Thanks for the time, apologies for the long, first post.
I think, Sonny, that you are being a little disingenuous here.

Firstly for not making it clear that you are a Promethean employee. Other promethean staff have contributed to this thread, but they have been very clear who they work for. We the reader can then bear that in mind when listening to their claims about their boards.

While both types of IWB - Smart and Promethean - had their roots in business tools - the latest versions of the software are far removed from these roots. Smart 10 is a big development on older versions - just as ActivInspire is far removed from Activ Px. Both boards have come a long way too.

Education has a good history of taking tools that are originally designed for one purpose and giving them a whole new spin in the educational field - are you saying we shouldnt be using laptops? Look at the way the educational community is using a tool such as Twitter for example.

By all means promote your company, and toe your company line - but be honest about it. Your profile here makes no mention that you are a Promethean employee, only the link to your blog provides a hint of that. (and a google search on your name)

And if Smart employees did the same, I'd expect them to be clear about it too.
Thanks Danny for your research on this. It is useful to hear from employees of various companies as they have an important perspective and presumably good information for us all. As you point out however, it is important to avoid any conflicts of interest.
I work in a school for students on the Autism Spectrum. We have been using SmartBoards for almost 5 years now. We had problems locating pre-made SmartNotebook resources that were applicable to our students. One of the biggest problems, however, was the touch sensitive nature of the boards. In the field of Special Education, we work with students that have motor problems and they are not always aware of their body position. As a result, we constantly dealt with students accidentally bumping or touching the board with their arm, shoulder, other hand, etc.

With our mixed successes coupled with the high cost of SmartBoards, we experimented with Mimeos (pen-based solution) and found them to be better, but not perfect. The pen-based method of interacting was easy for students with Autism to understand.

In 2008, we began installing Promethean Boards in our classroom and they are truly revolutionizing our instruction. The pen-based interaction is easily understood by our students since it is similar to a skill (writing) they already know. Because students on the Autism Spectrum tend to be visual learners, the Promethean ActivBoards allow teachers to present lessons using a variety of media. The online resources at the Promethean Planet website have proved far more numerous and there are lessons available for all of the levels and subjects that we teach.

Finally, I am very pleased by the recent release of the ActivInspire software package that is available for free from Promethean. Unlike SmartNotebook, we are free to use the software on any platform. This will allow us to standardize on one software platform regardless of how many brands of interactive whiteboard (IWB) hardware we have.
A while back I posted on this thread. At that time I was a classroom teacher with a SMARTboard in my room, now I am a Teaching and Learning Consultant with Promethean. First, I say this as a disclaimer, second, I say this as someone who has experience with both tools.

I'd like to clarify Keith's post regarding the free version of Inspire software. The full version (Professional) is currently available to anyone with Promethean products. The Personal version has much of the same functionality and can hardly be classified as minimalistic. Very few options are left out and most people would barely realize anything was missing. I think it is a great step for software and education that anyone can use it, whether they have Promethean products or not.

Mr. Harvo,
I'm sorry you have had poor experiences with the company. Sometimes isolated incidents can have a lasting effect on the larger picture. I think we need to focus on the products themselves and their ability to provide a solution to education. As the marketing guru you are, I hope you won't let personal bias due to small incidents cloud your view of a great educational solution. The students will not feel the impact of a possible interruption at a trade show, but they would feel the impact of a poor solution in a classroom. I do not mean to insinuate that SMART is a poor solution, but rather that any company chosen over another for the wrong reasons can be a poor choice in the long run.

I agree that where a company began, has little relevance to where they are now. I was very happy with my SMARTboard until I was introduced to Promethean. However, I realized my perception was clouded, as I didn't know the advantages of Promethean (I'm not going to turn this into a sales demo, so I'll leave it at that). One thing that always bothered me was that I never had so much as a minute of training or PD from SMART. Promethean dedicates a lot of effort to ensure that teachers are using their products to the highest capability. To me, that is what is important. The quality of your product becomes irrelevant if teachers do not know how to take advantage of said quality.
We must try to get over the BIG BRANDS TO BUY concept in educational technology.
They only rob the school of its meager funds, and greatly increase their company profits!
None of the systems are even near perfect, and all of them are proprietary so that only their own software and hardware are usable. Also, the copyright problems compound their usability and interchangeability even more.
Let the school boards recognize that only with much greater competition can the prices of educational products decrease.

School boards should also stop buying textbooks from publishers and write their own textbooks and put these textbooks onto their own website for use by all teachers.
School boards should also stop buying software from third-party sources and write their own software for use by all teachers.
After a few years of constantly upgrading their own textbooks and software, school boards will no longer be giving their money away to others. These third party companies constantly "upgrade" their textbooks and software with their "next edition" for repurchase.

Teachers should be encouraged to use only standard laptops connected to standard projectors in the classroom and using the free software and the vast free resources of the internet. Every teacher who is now laptop-and-internet-literate should be able to readily use a website like, via a video projector to teach their class.
Smartboard and Promethean are expensive, require time-consuming training to use, require extra preparation time for the teacher, are prone to breakdown/vandalism/downtime, and still leave the teacher in front of their classroom with their back to the class.

Let us not jump too quickly on the technology bandwagon, promoted by politically-motivated school board administrators.
Let us first ask how these additions to our classroom will save us time and effort, and make our teaching job easier!
We have both. I personally like Promethean Boards better. More tools and resources. offers thousands of lesson plans and training tips. The height adjustability of the Promethean Board is a huge component when working with elementary students. Also, the latest version of teh Promethean software ActivInspire has just been released and is a great improvement on the existing software. Much more userfriendly.
Both systems offer very good resources for ongoing support. Our choice was purely on the robust nature of the Promethean in the classroom and the fact that there was better software support for Macs. We also now only purchase those that are movable as it is not always possible to get the positioning right for all times of the year and for different teaching styles of the teachers if there is a staff change. We also issue a pen to each teacher (from their departmental budget) to obviate the problem of pen loss although we also keep a spare pen for those who will inevitable not have their pens with them.
I just found this discussion and have enjoyed reading all of the posts and gathering information. I've found all of the posts to be very informative.

I've had our school's first IWB in my second grade classroom since January, along with a document camera, and I love them both! Together they have revolutionized my teaching. What I don't like is that the IWB is on wheels and it takes up so much room!

For our first one we went with the SmartBoard (although at the time I wanted the Promethean - more impressed by the demo) because of the cost factor. Now we are looking to place 6 more in our building, all attached on the wall. My principal wants to get IWB's in our school and since I'm one of our "techie teachers" I'm taking the lead on researching brands, etc.

I've been very happy with the SmartBoard. Once we got it set up, and with a little training (2 hours) from the local rep, it's been very intuitive. Very much a PC/powerpoint feel to it. The kids have been even quicker to learn how to do things on it such as saving their work and moving from page to page. They have even adjusted quickly to not resting their hand on the board and they especially like using their fingers. I'm also intrigued by the interconnectivity between the SmartBoard and their new document camera (made by Elmo for Smart) So... I like the SmartBoard.
But, I'm still intrigued by Promethean. I liked the resources available, but I know Smart is quickly catching up.
The one thing I (and the teachers who will get the first set of 6 IWB's) like about Promethean is the fact that with the student response system , ActivExpression, students can text their responses. We went to another school in my district that has P installed in all classrooms and observed a 5th grade texting their response to an open-ended question..."similar to "Why do you think the compromise was..." Everyone of the 28 students was able to "answer" thru texting and have their answer viewed by all when the teacher displayed it on the Promethean. Awesome! talk about students participating and being engaged. The verbal discussion that followed was awesome!

My questions is this... does the Senteo have the same texting capabilities? When I look through the materials, website, it doesn't appear to do this. To me this is a huge factor towards Promethean. To encourage and develop thinking skills, we need to have students do more than respond to multiple choice questions.

So... have I decided what is best for our school? No, but I will be taking all of the info I gathered back to our team and we'll go from there. What I do know is that no matter which one we choose, it's how we use it that will make the difference.
Great for you to not only be fortunate to have an IWB, but to be doing all you can to use it to its highest capacity! To clarify regarding student response systems, there are other brands that have texting capability, but Promethean (as far as I know) is the only brand that allows the text responses to be sent to the board and manipulated. Meaning that you can sort the responses (Venn diagram) color code them, send one to another page to expand upon it or other actions. Essentially, each response becomes its own text box that you can change how you like. I'm not sure if other systems have that ability.
Just a quick FYI. You mentioned that you have a 2nd grade class and I'm not sure which other grade levels will be getting IWBs in your school, but the ActiExpressions may be a 'little much' for 3 grade and below. We have a teacher successfully using them in 4th grade, but there is a bit of lag time while the kids type in their responses. The ActiVotes are used with much delight and success with K-3.

Just more info for your research.
Thanks for your reply! We would actually be looking at getting both ActiVote and ActivExpressions, if we go with Promethean.



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