What works as an interactive
surface for primary grade levels, does not translate well into the
middle school and high school environment. When presented with a
choice, the faculty members of four out of five high school projects I
have worked on preferred to have wireless slates, rather than the
actual interactive whiteboard. The primary reason was that the teacher
did not want to be tethered to the board; They wanted to be next to
David who is trying to sleep in their class.
They also believe it easier to engage the students by
handing them the wireless slate, than trying to get them to stand in front of
the class (those awkward teenage years). They are still running interactive lesson plans in the classroom using a
projector, but the interface device is a wireless handheld device, and the
projection surface is a projections screen- pull down or permanent.
That scenario also helps with a secondary issue for middle
and high school classrooms. When
you place an interactive whiteboard at the manufacturer-recommended height for
an adult, the bottom of the image is down around 32 inches above the
floor. It is virtually impossible
to see the bottom of the image from the back of the classroom- the kids are too
If we no longer need to place the screen where a person can
touch or write on it, we can raise it up so the bottom of the viewing image is
at 48 inches above the floor, viewable from anywhere in the room.
The other trend is that we do not need actual "interface
surface" to run interactive software applications. To start with, take a little time, go to YouTube and search
for "interactive whiteboard Wii," and select the one from Johnny Lee (posted a
year ago with over 5 million hits). This video demonstrates how you can convert a Nintendo Wii controller
into an interactive whiteboard with $65 of parts. The Wii controller is a simple infrared emitter/sensor that
he repurposes for an interactive surface.
Johnny now works for Microsoft, and you really need to
Google the "Natal Project," which
is XBOX upping NINTENDO by eliminating the use of a controller. The Natal Project is a box you place in
front of your TV that interprets your body movements and gestures for your game
Another item you may want to look at is the EIKI (projector
manufacturer) Model LC-XIP2000 interactive projector. The interactive sensing device (an infrared emitter/sensor
like the Wii) is built into the projector, and you can use any surface you can
project the image on as the interactive surface.
A number of other projector manufacturers are planning
similar models. So, for your "wee
folk" in primary grade levels, you can have an actual interactive area at the
correct height for them without purchasing the expensive interactive surface.