Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SmartBoards vs Mimio... My Choice

In Newfoundland and Labrador, many classrooms have been equipped with interactive whiteboards. At this point in time the majority of interactive whiteboards in the province are of the SmartBoard kind. Rumor has it that there may be a new interactive whiteboard "kid in town" called a TeamBoard. It has multitouch capability but I have not seen that functionality in action.

Now you may be asking why an online teacher would even be interested in interactive whiteboard technology when there are so many tools at the disposal of an online teacher right at the fingertips of a laptop. The answer is simple... Ergonomics. To make a long story short, I needed to stand and teach to befriend my back and neck. And being one who loves technology... I love to learn about new things.

My first thought was to use what the rest of the province uses... A SmartBoard. Two problems I had... One I solved and one I could never solve. When picking up a Smart pen, the ink layer automatically covers the screen. This can be problematic when the screen you wish to write on... say for example a Blackboard Collaborate whiteboard, is under that ink layer. That problem was easy to solve... disable the ink layer. The second problem was one that neither I, nor the rest of my colleagues could solve... pen latency. It would seem that when writing with the Smart pen on the Blackboard Collaborate whiteboard you would be half way across the screen before the pen started actually producing an image on the screen. So... using the SmartBoard and our synchronous classroom was out. But all was not lost...

From time to time I get to go to places outside this province and meet others involved with education and technology ( As an aside if you are a teacher reading this... find pd outside your state or province and attend it. It does wonders for you professionally). I met Graham Pilon from Mimio and he convinced me to try their technologies... And I did! Here is what I discovered.

First of all there was no pen latency issues when using the Mimio in conjunction with the virtual classroom. It responded better than what my Wacom tablet did... And it is connected to my computer wirelessly. As well the Mimio teach is portable and small. If I need an interactive whiteboard for any future presentation, all I would need is an LCD projector, a flat surface like a wall and my laptop... stick the Mimio Teach on that flat surface, plug in the wireless dongle and start using it... It IS that simple :) All of this and it was more cost effective than other interactive whiteboard technologies. I was sold... and I convinced other online teachers to give it a try. Some, like me, have them in their offices. With using a Bluetooth headset, I was able to stand and teach... All within a virtual classroom. I have since used my Mimio Teach with my Polycom to connect to distance education students via video. My students really seem to like it... Something I will be doing with greater frequency down the road.

So my choice as an e-teacher? Hands down... Mimio. Thanks Graham.

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