The internet has given billions access to an almost endless supply of information. Smartphones and mobile devices give people access to this information wherever they are along with the computational power of a PC in a device small enough to fit in a pocket.
These advances amount to a revolution in education but educational institutions have not necessarily benefitted as much as they should. Schools and universities in Ireland and around the world are catching up with technological developments by installing interactive boards in classrooms and lecture halls.
The interactive board combines the large screen display functionality of a projector with the interactive potential of a touch screen computer. Instead of having to control the images appearing on screen separately on a laptop or desktop computer teachers and lecturers can operate the program directly by interacting with the display. This means teachers can stand at the board, pointing out critical information, maintaining student attention and at the same time change programs to display a video or bring up a website all through the interactive screen.
Interactive boards also provide unique capabilities such as digital ink that allows teachers to use the projector/whiteboard combination as a whiteboard and write over, on, or around the images displayed there. This can be useful for highlighting important information and details. Screen images can be captured and saved to a hard drive to be displayed later which can save teachers having to draw out the same diagrams or help them to remember a particularly effective class.
Meritec supply and install a number of different types of interactive board. Some variants such as the Hitachi iPJ AW250NM and the Epson EB-455Wi are short throw projectors incorporating an interactive facility that can turn any wall or existing whiteboard into an interactive display. Other models use a special screen that detects the movement directly providing higher fidelity.The Smart Board 480 and 680 series boards project images onto a touch sensitive board allowing teachers to use a marker or a finger to manipulate the display.