The Benefits of Interactive Whiteboards in Universities

Technology has influenced virtually all spheres of life, improving many significantly. The education sector is one arena that has been transformed by technological advancements.

A decade ago, the primary way teachers shared knowledge with university students was by writing on black boards with chalk. While this method of dialogue worked for years, it made the learning environment toxic for people with certain types of allergies, and created a teaching atmosphere characterised by monologue, rather than interactive collaborative learning; lecturers faced the boards not the students most of the time.

Smart Interactive WhiteboardThe situation improved with the introduction of the white board, which allowed teachers to write with markers. However, this medium shared many of the same process limitations of the old blackboards.

Interactive Whiteboards are currently superseding the traditional white board in many university departments.

They enable a more conversational, richer mode of teaching. Some of the benefits include:

  • More flexibility in content delivery between teachers and students; i.e. streaming videos, websites, sharing resources
  • More diverse teaching systems and processes that engage tactile learners, audio learners and visual learners through varied media and modes of interaction
  • Easier file sharing and learning feedback
  • More student facing than board facing lecturers – the turnaround of education
  • Simple access to online and networked resources

Below are some examples of how universities are putting interactive whiteboards to good use, and the benefits that they are receiving from doing so.

Glasgow Caledonian University
Established in 1993, this university recently decided to improve the technologies found in their chemistry laboratories. The management was after a solution that would improve the quality of learning in the laboratory, and future proof their teaching methods.

The university settled on Eno interactive white boards, which are controlled by a central computer. The interactive white boards have high quality sound, quality microphones and an induction loop. The boards also support dry-erasing. The ceiling of the laboratory is fitted with a camera for easy recording and projection of sessions. The central computer, which controls the boards, can also control all chemistry apparatus in the lab.

All of this means lecturers can now easily share diverse forms of media with students, including current views through microscopes.

Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
This department, already known for the array of teaching methods deployed by lecturers, was faced with the challenge of improving screen visibility, something that wasn’t achievable with the regular whiteboard and projection screen combinations they had in place. They were also looking for a solution that would make it easy for teachers to record and display data, as well as make additional notes during the course of a lecture.

The solution that the department chose was SMART board technology. The laboratory now features one big mobile interactive screen, fitted with hydraulic height adjustment, and two slave screens on either side of the lab. The big screen is for the tutor in front, while the smaller screens are for others partaking in the learning session.

SMART board technology has transformed the way practical sessions are prepared and carried out, as students now enjoy detailed views of at least one screen, and data obtained during practical sessions can be recorded and shared instantaneously.

The interactive whiteboard is also connected to microscopes in the lab, making it easy for lecturers to present and highlight structures on the slide.

Faculty of Health and Human Science, Hertfordshire University
This faculty needed to upgrade the teaching technology used in the training of nurses. They had the goals of becoming more digital, more efficient and making student engagement simpler.

The solution they deployed was PRESENTA whiteboard technology, accompanied by a ceiling mounted projector. The system is very easy to use, as members of staff needed very little support to understand and fully utilise the technology deployed.

Since the introduction of this solution, students enjoy fully interactive, increasingly collaborative learning. Lecture notes, amendments, FAQs, and files, are easily saved and stored for use in the future, and tutors can share diverse media with students at the click of a button, by email, or over the server.

School of Medicine, University of St Andrews
The school moved to its newly completed building in 2010, and was faced with the requirement to complement the state-of-the-art facilities in the building with AV solutions that would complement the environment. The solution was also expected to improve the learning experience for both tutors and students, and it would have to be usable in a variety of scenarios, such as whilst simulating a hospital ward setting.

The solution they settled for was a combination of PolyVision whiteboards and short throw projectors. Their new system is a solid combination of ease of use and durability. It offers simple integration with systems already on ground in the school.

This new technology enables teachers and students to write notes and draw diagrams by either using the interactive stylus provided, or a dry-erase marker. It is also now easy to share all kinds of media files.

These are just a few examples of how interactive whiteboards have been deployed by institutions around the UK, and how they have helped improve the learning process.