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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I'd agree with Brett. i used an Activboard last year and have now moved to a school with Smartboards. Whilst they ultimately serve the same purpose I think the ActivStudio software has so much more potential and has lots more resources in the gallery. I also very easily found an abundance of teacher created flipcharts too, whilst I haven't had the same success with Smart Notebooks.
Pens weren't really an issue - we didn't lose or break one in the 18 mths I was using the board. I personally found the pen easier than using a finger, and as far as I'm aware our junior primary classes didn't have any problems with the pen.

I also like the online training & tutorials available via the Promethean Planet website. In my opinion I think the support rfrom Promethean re website, training, tutorials and forums is excellent.
Thanks Pam. It's good having people who have had experience in both. Just lately Smart has been dropping in the polls according to response in this discussion. I'm interested in hearing from people who are using the new Promethan Inspire software. Is it as good as what some folk are saying?

Personally I'm gearing up to use Inspire with a Wii white board. Waiting on a pen to arrive in the mail.
I think one must consider the fact that the Promethean Activclassroom was designed by educators for educators in order to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Smart was designed as a presentation tool for a corporate boardroom setting.

As educators I think it is incumbent upon us, when making this decision to go with an interactive white boad, to consider the origins of the tool, the originators of the tool, and the purposes for which it was expressly designed. When you do that, the clear choice for educators is to choose an educational tool that is shown to improve student engagement and academic achievement. That choice is clearly Promethean.
While looking at the origins and purposes of these tools, I would like to know about ongoing research into their effectiveness in the classroom.
Hi Fran,

Dr. Robert Marzano will soon publish an interim study on the effect of the Promethean Activclassroom (this comprises the Activboard, Activotes or Activexpressions, Activstudio, content from Promethean Planet and ActivPD) on student engagement and academic achievement. He provided a powerful keynote address to participants at the California CUE conference (the keynote will be streamed from the CUE website at Dr. Marzano shared the following: the interim data shows that the Promethean Activclassroom has a significant effect on student academic achievement: an average .44 effect size over Standard Deviation of the control group - which translates to about a 17 percentile point increase in student learning.

However, he also discovered a "sweet spot" or a confluence of factors that lead to extraordinary gains:

*A veteran teacher (more than 3 years experience);
*A teacher who has used the Activclassroom for at least 2 years;
*A teacher who has engaged in "sufficient" professional development;
*A teacher who is a confident user of the Activclassroom; and,
*A teacher who uses the Activclassroom for 75% of their instructional time

Under these conditions, Dr. Marzano found that the average effect size is greater than a 30 percentile increase in academic achievement.These are highly encouraging findings and we are honored to embark on this ground-breaking research effort with Dr. Marzano.

We consider this a long-term research and development partnership with Dr. Marzano and encourage teachers using Promethean to consider participation in the study.

We will publish Dr. Marzano's findings on and, along with information on potential involvement in this study.

I hope you find this information useful, Fran.

Sonny Magana, M.Ed.
Director of Education Strategy
Promethean, Inc.

The CUE conference is past and I did not see Dr Marzano's keynote streamed from the web site. Do you know of any archive of his talk? Might this be something you could gain rights to post on Promethean Planet?

We are a Promethean-loving district and would love to site some of Dr Marzano's research to support the purchase of even MORE ActivBoards. I have shared this link ( with my Director of Tech and Superintendent to inform them of the connection of IWBs and increased student achievement, but would love to show them Dr. Marzano's keynote as well.

Thanks for any information you may be able to provide.

Just because a product is designed for a specific purpose doesn't mean it will always be best served in that purpose. Look at Twitter. It is what people make it. I think the same applies with IWB's. They are what the teachers/corporations use them for. SMART, Promethean and others can only do so much when they design the hardware and software; how they are used together depends very much so on the users using them. IWB's in general have been show to improve learning outcomes and the involvement of students.
Hi Robert,

You raise an excellent point about utilization; in fact I quite agree: the effectiveness of any tool does depend upon the ends for which that tool was created in conjunction to how skillfully it is wielded. To make this point a bit clearer, I've crafted a white paper on the nature of transforming education and the essential principles of learning. Perhaps you might enjoy reading this.

I hope to have this posted to shortly.

Thanks for responding to my post!

Sonny Magana, M.Ed.
Director of Education Strategy
Promethean, Inc
With respect Sonny, you've swallowed the advertising line of Promethean. The origins of an IWB doesn't necessarily indicate anything about it's value for the classroom. Plenty of people find Smart very useful, adaptable, friendly, powerful and more.

Promethean is clearly very good. So is Smart. This conversation is about the nuances between the two and helping people consider which way they will go - if indeed they choose one of these two brands at all, they may choose others.
Well, it seems I've struck a nerve (perhaps more than one).

With respect to all, my initial point was that the Promethean Activclassroom was designed by educators for educators to improve curriculum instruction and assessment - this includes not just the interactive white board, but the software environment, the learner response systems and the other tools designed as an integrated teaching and learning system to modernize existing classrooms.

The foundational component of the Activclassroom was the Activstudio software which was designed as a multimedia curriculum development and instructional tool. This was the first element of the Activclassroom that had been developed; the digital electromagnetic white board was deemed as the most dependable interactive delivery method for the content in a K12 classroom environment; the learner response systems were designed to support ongoing feedback for learners and their teachers.

This is truly unique in the interactive whiteboard world.

To paraphrase Thomas Aquinas, “little differences at the beginning of a process lead to large variance in the end.”

My second point is that when making a decision, simply engage in due diligence. Consider the purpose for which a tool was originally designed and then measure its effectiveness in terms of improving student engagement and academic achievement – two of the most pressing needs facing our schools today.

In response to the disingenuous comment: if I am guilty by omission mea culpa for not including my current employment status. However, I am a lifelong educator first, last and always. My work has largely been focused on developing new ways to engage disenfranchised learners with technology. If this community is closed to those currently outside the employ of public education, please let me know and I'll respectfully refrain from posting further thoughts here.
Thanks for posting your employment connections with Promethean in several places on this discussion site. I value your contribution.



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