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.

Later:
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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Our teachers have been much happier with Promethean for setup issues. They have identified a lot less difficulty with adjusting Promethean equipment.
What do teachers say about using the Promethean? Do you have Smart Boards in the school as well? Are you talking about calibration being an issue or initial setup?
The Smart notebook software cannot be freely used by anyone. Their website states very clearly about downloading it and copyright rules. On the other hand, Promethean does allow the download of their software. Things I've found to watch for. If you have motion sensors in your classrooms you may have some interference. II's not the boards so much that make the tool, but the software that goes with it.
Is it easier to have students get up and down from their seats to interact with the boards, or use something like a slate (Interwrite Pad, or Airliner) where the pad is passed from student to student? This is a much cheaper option and you get the same software as the board.
IMO interactive boards, irregardless of brand are better in primary grades where students can sit on the floor, like they would to write on a regular white board, and manipulate the board. Sometimes they may need a step stool to reach all the areas. Middle and upper grades benefit more from the pads. They can manipulate the material on the board using the pad and pass it to the next student. Teachers can teach from any area of the classroom, including standing next to that student struggling to pay attention. That new dynamic of "stepping away from the board" that I think is so key to student learning.
Take a look at the discussion "Are WhiteBoards really necessary" on this site.
Thanks Ariene. Yes, I was aware of copyright issues with Smart NoteBook. My understanding is that it can't be used with hardware without breaking copyright, but can be downloaded and used by anyone as long as they're not connnecting it to non-SmartBoard hardware.

Slate? I have thought of this option and it is certainly cheaper. It takes away the large body movement which I think may be under-rated in learning. I wonder if anyone has a comment on that aspect of iboards?

What's IMO stand for?
Sorry... it's "in my opinion"
I must respectfully disagree with you Arlene that IWBs are "are better in primary grades". We have implemented Prometheans at our Jr High and have mobile ones in our elementary school. Due to my position, I have observed their use at all grade levels and don't see a marked difference in engagement of the students. Regardless of the grade level, the students LOVE the board. Many teachers have implemented the use of the Activotes (aka: voters or clickers). Again, at all grade levels, they are a hit. We have not seen a large amount of use of the slates. Our teachers are frequently 'away from the board' with students manipulating the flipchart.

Here is a great piece talking about Marzano's take on IWBs from the recent CUE conference in Palm Springs, CA: http://iwbrevolution.ning.com/forum/topics/robert-marzano-and-inter...
From my experience (we have both here on campus) the Smartboards can be beat .... Though I do like the Activewand with the Activeboard..... using their fingers does seem more intuitive vs the stylus (though the Smartboards have a stylus as well)
Consider this. A SmartBoard costs $1120 for just the board, no mounting. If you want Bluetooth that's another $300. If you need your projector ceiling mounted (you need to purchase one of those too - $650), that could run another $600-1000. They really need to be mounted on the ceiling to cut down on shadowing. In the long run that's about $2500-3000. And at each startup there's the calibration.

If you get an Interwrite Pad, Airliner(Smart), Wacom pad,(all about $500) etc,, all you need is the projector -$650,(doesn't need to be ceiling mounted as no one is stepping in front of the projector). Your cost is $1150. About 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of the SmartBoard. Also there is no calibration.

All these companies have proprietary software and cannot be shared with each other, so stay with one brand. They all also have a unique function that not a lot of teachers use, which is the recording device. I found the Interwrite record a little friendlier, but Smart and Mimeo (IWB) also have it. Smart's record file is huge, like 10 times the size of a similar 2 minute Interwrite file. Both need to be converted to Quicktime for web posting, but it's great to be able to use.
Check out my sample at:
http://community.saugususd.org/aanderson/weblog

My favorite thing is that with any of the pads the teacher is free to move about the classroom while instructing from the pad, or pass the pad to a student to solve a problem or demonstrate a skill.
I have my projector on a cart, so it is also portable and has a carrying case. This is a plus, since I have taken it with my laptop when I was presenting in a location where I was unsure about their equipment! Can't do that with a smartboard!
A key question is about the relative quality of the software for Smart and Promethean. I'm impressed by Smart, what can people say about Promethean?
Our school trialled 3 different brands of boards in 2007, including a Smartboard and Promethean ACTIVboard. Initially, our teachers were firmly in favour of the Smartboard - it seemed easy to learn, flexible, touchable, etc. But as the year progressed, preference swung toward the Promethean.
Ariene is right, the software is more significant than the board itself. The more we played with ACTIVstudio (the Promethean software), the more depth it seemed to have. There is a difference between ease of learning and ease of use. As teachers became more familiar with ACTIVstudio, more tools and features revealed themselves - including those we initially believed were only available with the Smartboard.
We concluded that both the Smartboard and Promethean would be excellent additions to our classrooms (we dismissed the third brand early in the trial), but in the end decided that the Promethean was right for us.
Another plus on the Promethean side is the resources available on the Promethean Planet website. Teachers can search thousands of flipcharts made by fellow teachers and download them for immediate use or editing to customize based on the curricula.

Further, we found all the different colored 'pens' on the SMARTboard to be a nuisance. In the end, any IWB you can get your hands on is a wonderful addition to your classroom. Our preference, like Brett, is for Promethean.

To further muddy the waters, Polyvision has recently come out with an IWB called Eno. The Eno board is magnetic and you can use dry erase markers on the surface, none of the other boards allow that. Something to look at if you are looking at all makers of IWB.

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