Promethean – the interactive whiteboard

and great classroom tool

I have first used a Promethean board last week when I delivered my first lecture on behalf on On Track, and a program that aims, click among other things, healing to prepare Scottish college students to smoothly make their transition to university. The lecture addressed students taking courses at Reid Kerr College in Paisley, UK.

I was prepared with a powerpoint as I was told that the classroom had a projector. However, when I got to there I discovered that they had what looked to me a big TV screen – it had its own speakers system – linked to a both a computer and a projector. Then I was given an interactive pen so I immediately knew that what I had in front of me was a great tool.

Promethean is an interactive whiteboard and I believe it change the whole teaching and learning experience.It’s like a huge tablet PC. It has plenty of features and can be used virtually in any teaching environment, no matter the level and no matter the subject.

Here are some features that I loved:in-powerpoint notes

  • interactive polls – the class can be involved in a vote during the lecture (this could help the lecturer explore student opinion or check whether they understand the concepts presented)
  • writing on board – helps annotate presentation, highlight important notions, note student answers (to make sure everyone understands the writing use in  conjunction with writing recognition tool)
  • save changes – saves all annotations made to a document (great for exam preparation or for archival)
  • record on screen activity – recording with sound allows the lecture for example to be later shared on a variety of platforms and be reused in other learning environments. Think here of the online video guest lectures I delivered in the past using TokBox or Skype but had trouble recording for future analysis. Or think of using the collaborative platforms I’ve mentioned in previous posts and recording the whole process for future research. With Promethean this could be possible – use online tools, interact with the screen, annotate presentation and record it!

Promethean however can be considered a rather expensive piece of equipment (I was told it costs around £3,000 per piece) and requires training of staff. Furthermore, the board works best when used within a community where lecturers share their experiences and where students are encouraged to explore new technologies. It also requires schools to reassess their position towards adoption and use of technology in the classrooms. This takes time, needs practice, and requires access to funds. Nevertheless, whoever uses it is in for a fun ride. 🙂

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