School leaders around the United States continue to spend HUGE amounts of money on interactive whiteboards for classrooms, despite the fact that these devices universally FAIL to empower students to become more independent, self-directed and engaged learners in the way mobile learning devices (like laptops, tablets or other personal digital learning tools) can. Please do not misunderstand me: It definitely IS a big deal for a teacher and his/her students to have access to an LCD projector connected to a computer in the classroom if previously, the “normal” technology in the room was an overhead projector.

Overhead Projectors at US Grant High School in Oklahoma City

What is a POOR deal for students as well as teachers, in many of our schools today, is a capital outlay of $3500 for an interactive white board (IWB) when those same dollars could purchase a projector or large format television AND individual mobile learning devices for teachers and students in the same class.* My experiments this evening with the Air Display ($10) application for iPad confirm what I’ve suspected for some time: Inexpensive mobile applications (relative to the cost of an IWB) can transform these devices INTO functional IWBs with many more benefits as well as capabilities. In this post, I’ll highlight some of the applications which can do this for Apple’s iPad, based on a phenomenal set of tutorial videos (over 52 minutes worth) shared recently by Tim Tyson. If you still have IWBs in your school technology plan, put your planning on hold. I’m hoping the ideas I share in this post will convince you to put those precious dollars toward iPads for students and teachers INSTEAD of an expensive device (an IWB) that will stay mounted at the front of a classroom gathering dust.

Sarah on iPad Launch Day in Portland, Mainephoto © 2010 Wesley Fryer | more info (via: Wylio)

In the last two weeks, Tim Tyson has recorded and published (both to his blog and his YouTube channel) eight screencasts totaling 52 minutes and 37 seconds. The first four of these were shared as a series of tutorials (Tim calls them “quickcasts”) explaining how to use the iPad application Air Display ($10) and the Mac application Ink2Go ($20) to turn any iPad into a functional IWB. This setup is actually better than an IWB in several ways. Not only is it VASTLY cheaper, but it also permits a teacher or student to be anywhere in the room when writing on the iPad/projected computer image AND see the digital image on the device in their hands. This is better than the function offered by all the bluetooth slates I’ve seen to date, like eInstruction’s Interwrite Mobi View as well as the SMART wireless Slate. At the end of 2010 at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in New Hampshire, Paula Churchhill wow’ed me with her use of a wireless slate when she presented her session, “Sound Recording in the Classroom.” I wondered at the time if I should explore options for purchasing and using a wireless slate for my own presentations. I no longer have any doubts about my needs in this regard. I have everything I could want and more for presenting with IWB power using my iPad and Air Display.

To be clear, as Tim Tyson outlined in his introductory video about this process, everyone should understand the requirements to use an iPad as an IWB. You need:

  1. An iPad
  2. A laptop or desktop computer (Apple is best, of course, but Windows computers can work as well since identified software is cross-platform)
  3. A wifi network connection (configured with ports open to allow sharing/communication between the iPad and computer – this can be an ad-hoc network or a ‘normal’ wifi hotspot / network)
  4. An LCD projector with screen or large format TV to serve as the external display
  5. Software applications which support both remote control and remote mirroring of a computer screen, along with screen annotation / recording (IWB-like software)

I titled this post, “iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10” because Air Display is definitely not the only game in town when it comes to remote control and remote mirroring of a computer on an iPad. I had previously dabbled with Team Viewer, but Tim (via Crystal Priest in Maine) recommends Splashtop Remote Desktop. At $5 it’s half the cost of Air Display, and it includes an excellent keyboard which can be used for entering website URLs and other typing needs from the iPad. Based on Tim’s well-elaborated summary of pros and cons of these apps from March 18th, I chose to purchase Air Display because it supports multiple devices. This means Sunday when I teach my 5th grade Sunday school class, students could use both my iPad2 and our family’s iPad1 to take turns controlling the computer screen and adding inputs to our lesson.


After installing any iPad remote mirroring and control software, it is necessary to install “client” software on the computer you’re using to actually connect to a projector or external TV. That’s a free download for both Air Display and Splashtop, the iOS application is the one which costs money. Team Viewer is free for non-commercial use, and supports Android as well as iOS devices. While Team Viewer worked ok for me when I tried it a few months ago (after I led an “iOS Apps for Productivity and Fun” workshop in September) I think the display control options offered by Air Display make it a better app, as well as the option to let multiple iOS devices control your main computer. A restart is required after installing the Air Display client software on a Mac or Windows computer.

In addition to the remote mirroring and control software programs on your iPad and laptop computer, you’ll need software on your computer which provides IWB functions. In my case, since I have a licensed copy of SMART software as the primary user of our church’s SMARTboard, that’s the software program I chose to use tonight and will most likely use on Sunday. Here is a screenshot I took using the software this evening, controlling a Google Earth virtual tour of Brazil from my iPad.

Google Earth via Air Display

Here’s another screenshot, showing annotation possibilities in Audacity. Again, this was all done from my iPad.

Audacity via Air Display

This final screenshot shows how Air Display permits selection of multiple iOS devices to control the computer. While I experimented with my iPhone4 as a control device, I found the screen to be WAY too small. The iPad, however, works GREAT at 1024 x 768 pixels of mirrored resolution.

Air Display permits multiple iOS control devices

If you don’t have a legitimately licensed copy of SMART’s Notebook software and tools, Ink2Go is a $20 software option for IWB functionality. Ink2Go available for both Windows and Macintosh computers.

The one thing I’d add to Tim’s recommended configuration tools is the Pogo Stylus. For about $10, it lets anyone write directly on the screen of an iPad and be much more precise than is possible with finger writing.

While functions available today with an iPad and these different software options have some limitations, the POWERFUL possibilities should be clear. It is NOT necessary to spend $5000 in a classroom to provide interactive whiteboard functionality. Instead of purchasing an expensive board which mounts to the wall, it makes MUCH MORE SENSE (and CENTS) to purchase an external display, computer, and iPads.

Based on my past experiences working with schools and school leaders, I’m sadly confident to predict many of you reading this post are balking at the prospect of purchasing and supporting INDIVIDUAL digital learning devices for students. Like most people in education today, you’re likely more comfortable with our traditional model of teacher-directed instruction. That’s an understandable perception, but not an acceptable one if you’re an educational leader. The learning revolution happens NOW, not in ten years, in classrooms and homes where learners are empowered with INDIVIDUAL DIGITAL LEARNING DEVICES. There are still important times for sharing and collaborating with digital technologies, but an analogy to pencils is helpful here. We don’t make all our students share pencils all the time. We understand the importance and need for EVERY student to have a pencil. The same goes for digital learning devices.

What are you writing into YOUR technology plan today? A better question is: What are you writing into your LEARNING plan? These technologies are new and sexy, but the “BIG DEAL” isn’t the technology here, it’s the learning which can be empowered by it as well as the connectivity it requires. Are you a catalyst or an obstacle for the learning revolution in your school?

The decision is up to you. Choose wisely. The learning revolution is here, and it’s NOT being ushered in by folks who purchase more interactive white boards.



* Based on feedback (thanks everyone for comments) I did a bit more homework and revised my estimated IWB cost included in this post to $3500. I had originally used $5000, which clearly is an over-estimation. This $3500 price is based on a current quotation for a SMARTboard Unifi system (“projector on a boom”) along with installation, provided by a vendor for an Oklahoma City metro-area district. The quotation is $3175 for a SMART Board 680 with UF65 projector and a 15-Pin HD (M) to 15-Pin (M) Cable – 15′. Installation cost is $270. $3500 is therefore a reasonable estimate for these hardware costs. Certainly IWBs are available for less, models and prices vary. The $3500 per classroom costs included here ARE being paid by some schools for IWBs currently. Whatever amount your school is paying for an IWB, my contention in this post is the same: Those funds are better invested in a solution which can empower students directly rather than encourage a traditional, teacher-directed instructional environment.

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68 Responses to iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10

  1. Joe Brennan says:

    Amen, Wes! Love the picture of the piled up overheads!! I think that may find it’s way into one of my presentations some day (with CC proper attribution, of course).

  2. iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10 #ipad

  3. @pmcash says:

    I fully agree with your comments about the large amount of money being spent on IWBs. I would suggest that people consider the Remoter iPad app, which is highly rated, and currently 99¢ in the app store.

  4. I have been using AirDisplay and Ink2Go all week. I like the fact AirDisplay allows you to “hand-off” the desktop to another iPad in the room, and, most importantly for our district, you do not need wireless in the room…just create an ad hoc network between the desktop and the iPads.

  5. Cath says:

    Yeah, it does seem crazy to invest in a hulking IWB when the field of possibility is so rich:

    “We are in the midst of a revolution across a variety of screens, with new input methods, new formats, and new distribution models. This revolution is being fueled by several fundamental drivers: processing power growth, powerful portable batteries, increasing bandwidth for wireless Internet connectivity, and a wide array of screen sizes and device form factors.”

    I’m also agreeing with Joe — great pile-of-OHPs pic 🙂
    — Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch

  6. Barb Long says:

    I definitely think individual learning devices are the way to go. Our goal should be teaching students to become independent learners.

  7. Dave says:

    Is the assurtion that the use of iPads is less expensive than purchasing a IWB based on already having iPads in the classroom? At $500/iPad you can only purchase 10 at $5,000 and the average classroom size would be between 25 and 30 students.

  8. Wesley Fryer says:

    @Dave: Just 1 iPad in a classroom with a projector is less expensive than a single IWB and provides better functionality, in my view.

    You are right that an IWB budget isn’t enough to outfit an entire class of students with iPads presently. So buy as many as you can afford. Or buy iPod Touches. And let students BYOD (bring your own device) to class. The most important issue herebis student empowerment for learning. IWB’s don’t do that and can’t do that the way individual mobile devices can.

  9. DJ says:

    All of our (actual Smart brand) smartboards cost about $1,300 each. Hate to see where you are getting $5K units, yikes.

  10. Jim says:

    $5000 for a whiteboard? Hmmm… sounds awfully high. I found a 77″ SMART Board education price at $1200.

  11. Anonymous says:

    As one can see anywhere around the web where “smart” boards are discussed, they are a techy dressing up of the chalkboard. I have taken a considerable amount of training, and even though those companies show how students can come to the front and do things on the board (which is amazingly similar to old chalkboard student exercises), the iPad approach is incredibly more interactive, and in a way that students can quickly relate to and understand. IWBs are still teacher-presentation oriented.

  12. Mike Guerena says:

    Some other options for turning the iPad into an IWB include Doceri and Air Sketch. We have been demoing both in my district. Both allow you to go wireless with the iPad. Air Sketch is super easy to get up and running. You just need to connect to a browser on your computer connected to the projector. Air sketch will broadcast whatever is drawn into the app to the browser of the computer. The free version let’s you sketch with a black pen and broadcast. The paid version gives you five pens and different colors, as well as importing images from camera roll and saving screen as image or PDF. Our teachers are pretty excited about this app. At 7.99 it is a good bargain.

    Doceri turns the iPad into a remote slate for the computer. It has penning capabilities, as well as VNC features and a pointer. I spoke with the vendor at a conference last week. They told me that they are planning to add student response capabilities, as well as a remote desktop feature that will be able to monitor and display student iPad screens.

    I am looking at saving our district from purchasing IWB, as well doc cameras. The great thing about the iPad is that there is so many other features on it that will empower the teacher.

  13. Ryan Bretag says:

    5,000 for an IWB? This seems grossly exaggerated and misleading to support an otherwise good point.

  14. […] and a serious speed increase. Here’s what you have to look forward to in Firefox 4iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10 « Moving at the Speed of Creativity–School leaders around the United States continue to spend HUGE amounts of money oninteractive […]

  15. KathleenN says:

    How about $545 for a 48″ which includes SmartNotebook!

  16. […] iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10 « Moving at the Speed of Creativity–School leaders around the United States continue to spend HUGE amounts of money oninteractive whiteboards for classrooms, despite the fact that these devices universally FAIL to empower students to become more independent, self-directed and engaged learners in the way mobile learning devices (like laptops, tablets or other personal digital learning tools) can. […]

  17. […] iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10 « Moving at the Speed of Creativity–School leaders around the United States continue to spend HUGE amounts of money oninteractive whiteboards for classrooms, despite the fact that these devices universally FAIL to empower students to become more independent, self-directed and engaged learners in the way mobile learning devices (like laptops, tablets or other personal digital learning tools) can. […]

  18. […] Cryer of Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog has noted some reservations about Smartboards being expensive ($5000 for a board and projector) and […]

  19. […] iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10 « Moving at the Speed of Creativity […]

  20. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks to everyone for the feedback and comments. I’ve added the following to the end of the post, as well as adjusting the cited amount for IWB cost:

    Based on feedback (thanks everyone for comments) I did a bit more homework and revised my estimated IWB cost included in this post to $3500. I had originally used $5000, which clearly is an over-estimation. This $3500 price is based on a current quotation for a SMARTboard Unifi system (“projector on a boom”) along with installation, provided by a vendor for an Oklahoma City metro-area district. The quotation is $3175 for a SMART Board 680 with UF65 projector and a 15-Pin HD (M) to 15-Pin (M) Cable – 15′. Installation cost is $270. $3500 is therefore a reasonable estimate for these hardware costs. Certainly IWBs are available for less, models and prices vary. The $3500 per classroom costs included here ARE being paid by some schools for IWBs currently. Whatever amount your school is paying for an IWB, my contention in this post is the same: Those funds are better invested in a solution which can empower students directly rather than encourage a traditional, teacher-directed instructional environment.

  21. guest says:

    Wes, I still think you are tilting the conversation unfairly.
    You are now paying $500 plus an application cost to basically get a remote controlling experience with the iPad.
    You can get the exact same experience that you are asking for here for $349 for a SMART Slate that connects via bluetooth to your mac that is plugged into projector shining on a wall or a screen. Therefore you are placing a $150 price point simply on the factor that you can see on the mobile slate/device.

    Using an iPad as a simple extended remote control environment. If you wanted to discuss using the iPad as the device plugged into the projector (which loses the ability to walk around) that would be a much more accurate cost scenario.

    Data can’t just be thrown around when there are too many other factors in the mix. I am not saying IWB’s can’t be improved, but not with partial or skewed data like this “comparison”. Also, let’s not forget that there are other tablets out there that are capable of VNC that are at a cheaper price than the iPad for this purpose, but we can easily tell you are Pro-Apple (whatever the toy/tool may be) and recently Anti-IWB…don’t let personal choices cloud a professional discussion.

  22. guest says:

    Let’s further that exploration on cost a little more:
    What you are suggesting:
    1. Computer = 1k
    2. Projector = 500
    3. Screen = 150
    4. iPad = 500
    5. Software = 5
    Total: $2,155

    1. Computer = 1k
    2. Projector = 500
    3. SMARTBoard = 1,399
    4. Slate = 349
    Total: $3248

    Difference of $1093

    Now for that amount you can buy 2 extra iPads so you have 3 ipads connecting and sharing to the computer.
    If that is what you are suggesting, then state the numbers appropriately.

  23. Michael Nott says:

    Great article and discussion. One thing not covered was kinesthetic differences between standing up, and moving while working as a team around a team board, and working in the sitting position more or less individually withb iPads. It would be wise to think about this. The analogy (in the past!!) would be the difference in ability of the teacher to express themself while moving around a black board with chalk compared to being anchored to a computer at a lectern. So how do we get the students moving with their iPads?

  24. Butler007 says:

    I disagree that Iwbs are expensive. It is the bulbs for projectos that rack up the costs. We have promethean boards which we installed over 6 years ago and are still working fine. The bulbs however burn out twice a year on average. A bit like ink costing you more than a printer!
    I also disagree that iwbs are ‘teacher centric’ tools. I admit they are often used this way but that is due to the teacher not the board. Ipads will be used equally poorly unless teachers develop their skills and understanding of effective educational use.

  25. Wesley Fryer says:

    It’s much more difficult to maintain a traditional, teacher-directed approach to learning in a 1:1 environment or even a 4:1 environment than it is when the teacher is in front of the class with an IWB. Of course I DO agree that an intentional change in pedagogy toward student-centered learning is key. Technology cannot and will not do that for a teacher. However, IWBs are (in most cases I see) used to maintain traditional paradigms of instruction rather than empower students. Individual mobile devices empower students, and the iPad can do this well. That is the most important point I want to make in this post.

  26. Wesley Fryer says:

    I admit I love simple, powerful tools that “just work” – hence I’m a user of many Apple technologies as well as an advocate for them. I’m also an advocate for lots of other platforms, services and tools, however. I bought a netbook in 2009 and tested it with several flavors of Linux as well as Win7. I could go on… but that documentation is here on my blog for those who want to find it.

    Your final comment, “… don’t let personal choices cloud a professional discussion” catches my attention particularly. You are commenting as “guest” rather than revealing your identity. Why is that? Do you have a professional affiliation to an IWB company? It’s impossible for me to view your own credentials / digital footprint and weigh your potential biases / interests if you remain anonymous. Do you care to step out from behind the curtain?

  27. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks for your feedback, Ryan – I made an adjustment in my numbers based on your comment and those of others.

  28. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks for the heads-up about Doceri Remote – it’s even free! I’ll definitely give it a try.

  29. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks Jim and KathleenN for your challenges on cost… see above for my price revisions.

  30. Wesley Fryer says:

    I’m curious to know how compatible Air Display is with typical school wifi hotspot configurations. Did you all have to make any changes to yours (open ports) to make Air Display work?

  31. teach for life says:

    Choosing between whiteboards and ipads sets up a false competition between tools for teachers and tools for students. A whiteboard is a valuable tool for the teacher and a whole class. Yes, it contributes to whole class instruction, but the idea that whole class instruction should be replaced by an entirely individual instruction sets up another false competition. Whole class instruction has a place in classroom where children are expected to learn and interact around complex ideas that can not merely be teased out through the discovery method. Independent learning, project based instruction, cooperative grouping…learning by doing …. also has a place. It all belongs.

    Instead of looking to take tools out of teachers’ hands when scrounging for money to purchase ipads, look at sources that ipad really could replace. Let’s stop expending so much of our resources on paper bound text books, xerox contracts, xerox paper and toner. Invest in digital content and the paperless classroom. That is an enormous savings that could supply teachers and students with tablets (ipad or other) and whiteboards for every class.

    As an aside, educational leaders need to stop being top down dispensers of equipment and theory. Empower teachers in the classroom; stop making purchases without consult to the people that actually use the tools.

  32. Robert Pronovost says:

    I just started using Doceri in my classroom. It is an IWB solution for the ipad with the tools integrated into the ipad. Much easier to use in my opinion.

  33. Ryan Collins says:

    A story from my district. A Kindergarten teacher already has a projector, and was looking at writing a grant for a IWB. I took my iPad to her and said she could almost get 3 iPads for the cost of an IWB. After showing your Toontastic she was sold. I then showed her Sock Puppets, and _There’s a monster at the end of this book_, after which she said, “You don’t have to convince me, I want an iPad.” (paraphrasing 🙂

    The important piece was that in a kindergarten classroom you aren’t going to be able to have students work on the IWB independently, and if you were, they are limited to the software that is available for the computer, which isn’t designed for touch. With an iPad you can give it to a group of 2 or 3 students and a task and they can work. Creating music in garageband, a movie in iMovie, digital stories in Story Robe, Toontastic, or Sock Puppets. It really puts the students in the driver’s seat of their education. IWB can’t do that.

  34. Guest says:

    I have been working with some teachers with the Smart Slate as well as trying to see if we could use the Wiimote (Johnny Lee Chung). I can get these to get going, but I am finding that a teacher must be dedicated to figuring out the software and how that works. For some teachers, it is a slow process and many have given up.

    I am not really techy but I do persevere and since I am a technology integration facilitator I have to just keep trying with these things and think about the POV of a teacher in a classroom.

    What I want to say about this is that this is actually very easy. I was able to get it going without even watching the videos – which I do plan to do. If I can do this, others can do it too which makes it more attractive to me to try and sell to my teachers.

    I had found some free software for the slates that looked promising called Uniboard. In November, 2010, Uniboard was taken over by a group from French speaking countries in Africa. It’s now called Sankore. Even though they indicate that the English version is not fully operational – I am finding it pretty robust.

    I have been trying Doceri – I found it was not as responsive as I wanted and I was having trouble getting it to work with 3rd party software such as eInstruction and Smart Notebook.
    It could be my technical skills. Also Doceri costs $50.

    Also, when thinking about the integrated IWB and projectors, you will need to add the cost of mounting the IWB and if you are trying to have the IWB be more than teacher directed and have students use them, you almost need to have the projector on the ceiling to avoid safety issues with the cords. On the other hand, with a slate and or iPad, you can pass these around and if you don’t have the funds to put the projectors on the ceiling, you can wait to do that.

    Keep posting on this topic – it is really important. Classroom 2.0 has some good discussions as well. This is simple enough that even teachers who are more low tech can feel as though they can do it.

  35. teach for life says:

    I responded to your post with the following observations, now restated. Wondering what your thought on this is.

    1) I don’t think that positing ipads against whiteboards is the correct relationship. Whiteboards give teachers tools, ipads give students tools. Everybody in that equation needs a tool. The real materials that are no longer needed in the equation are paperbound books, xerox contracts, reams of paper and toner and other resources of the pre-digital age. Obviously a few xerox machines and some paper makes sense, but a lot of content can be kept digitally.

    2) There should be no conflict between teacher at the front and student centered learning. A healthy classroom needs both. Some content requires a focused group all together looking at the same product in the same way. Students need to be able to manipulate and work with content to really have understanding and ownership. These two ideas are not in conflict except where theorists demonize one or deify the other. Multiple modalities is always the best approach. (Given that, some teachers need to practice letting go of the reins. Similarly, some other teachers need to stop assuming that happy engagement is inherently synonymous with learning. Sometimes it just means we get to hang out and play while retreading content and skills that we really mastered years prior. )

  36. Tom Erf says:

    Shortly after receiving an iPad, I was excited to experiment with Team Viewer as a workaround for viewing Flash on it in my classroom. We use Promethean IWB/Inspire software. The one important function I couldn’t perform was to click/drag items. Making IWBs interactive in my lessons (I agree with comments that this is entirely in the teacher’s hands to make happen) usually includes dragging things around, not just clicking on them. I spoke with TV tech support to see if I was missing something and was told this is not doable. I can do it with Air Mouse, but this is a very different experience as there is no mirroring of the computer screen on the iPad.

    Air Sketch Free does not do this, either, and I would rather not pay for apps without knowing they can perform in this way. Do any of the tools you have looked at allow for click/drag? Thanks!

  37. Sharon says:

    Technology in the classroom is a new concept (challenge) for me. I used a IWB a couple of days ago in my child’s classroom. As an instructor I will work to encorporate an ipad into my lesson plans in the future.

  38. […] they really getting their monies worth, they seem to start in price at about $1800.  Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity has a wonderful enty on his blog. The entry, iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5 or $10 is […]

  39. Andy Hanson says:

    I think one very important point was missed here. The power of IWBs is not in their interactivity, in my opinion, but in their software. Promethean ActivInspire, for example, has tons of tools built in specifically designed for teachers to instruct and demonstrate concepts in ways that you can’t with “normal” software. Utilizing layers and effects, teachers can do all kinds of things they couldn’t before.

    Let me give you an example using ActivInspire to demonstrate the concept of multiplication. I was once working with a group of students on multiplication, and it was evident that they had no idea what was really happening when they carried out the algorithm. With the software, I was able to drag several base 10 blocks onto the screen to represent both numbers in the problem, then group together one set of blocks and duplicate them over and over again to represent the “multiplying” that was occurring.

    No matter what app you use to connect the iPad to your computer, you can’t do that without the software. As far as I know, both SMART and Promethean prohibit the use of their software without their brand of hardware present.

    I have read several articles recently bashing IWBs in one way or another; some saying that they “tie” the teacher to the front of the room, others saying it is just a fad, and many others in between. The point that all doubters miss is that when someone learns to use the software well, they can do a lot more with their information and concepts. It isn’t about simply writing on a screen or being able to touch a surface to manipulate it.

  40. […] recently had this article brought to my attention by a colleague. On the surface this sounds like a fantastic idea, and […]

  41. Andy Brovey says:

    Referenced your post over on my iPad Academy blog while writing about Doceri. Doceri is definitely worth a look.

    (Apologies for the duplicate trackback!)

  42. Guest says:

    In stating that Intereactive whiteboards are a technology that has “universally failed to empower students”, the author is obviously unaware of research that shows marked improvement in student acheivement using it. Students have made a 16 percentile point increase in performance in a study done over a 2 year period.

    Ipads have their place and whiteboards have theirs.

  43. Wesley Fryer says:

    Empowering students is not the same thing as increasing student achievement as measured by test scores or grades.

    Ah, yes. The unfortunately infamous Marzano research for Promethian. No, I’m not “obviously unaware” of that study. Please thoroughly read Dr John Becker’s five part review & critique of that research:

    There are huge problems with this study and John did a great job explaining why its claimed results should not be accepted. One example from part 3 was:

    “Those posttest scores became the dependent variable in each of the 85 separate studies (the pretest scores were used as covariates).  In other words, the measure of student achievement in each of the 85 studies is “% correct or % proficient on a teacher created test of a single unit.” We can quibble about how to best define and operationalize student achievement, but that measure is unlikely to satisfy any legitimate educator’s conception of student achievement. Furthermore, what matters most here is the trustworthiness of the actual measure(s) used.”

    Why are you commenting anonymously?

  44. Joe Brennan says:

    And if you take that Marzano study without at least a tablespoon of salt, I have some prime swampland and a couple of bridges I can let you have at a very “special” price. Unfortunately, I think Marzano and a lot of his previous valuable ideas lost a lot of credibilty after that blatant advertisement came out.

  45. Wesley Fryer says:

    I definitely agree with you Andy that good software is important. IWB software hardly has the corner on the market of effective and compelling digital manipulatives, however. While I have seen and used some decent “interactives” that come with IWB software (I’ve mainly used SMART’s tho) I think we’re all better served by web-based, HTML5 compliant interactives which work on any platform and don’t require the purchase of proprietary software. The basic functions of an IWB: Being able to mark up the screen, save things to a notebook, etc, can be replicated with other programs like those referenced in this post and in the comments.

    While vendors always want us to get “locked in” to their proprietary software systems so we become dependent on them, that is generally a bad idea for schools as well as businesses. It’s much better to use open, standards-compliant solutions which can work on multiple platforms and (in many cases) don’t have licensing costs.

  46. Wesley Fryer says:

    I agree learning in a blended classroom involves some “full frontal” teaching (lecture at the front) with a mix of other strategies including student small group work. With educational budgets being what they are, it is the case that school purchasing departments are choosing IWBs over other options. My point is that it’s a better investment to purchase an iPad which can provide the same function at less cost, or at comparable cost with multiple devices in the hands of students as well as the teacher.

  47. Leigh Zeitz says:

    This is terrific, Wes. I just downloaded Air Display a couple of weeks ago and was using it to provide 3 screens for my MacBook Pro. Using it to create a slate as an interactive whiteboard is genius. I just spent about about 30 minutes watching Dr. Tim Tyson’s Quickcast videos and found them especially useful. The only problem I had was that when I created the private network between my computer and iPad, it removed my ability to go online wirelessly. Guess I will have to have my laptop directly wired to the network and then create a wireless private network with between the two devices.

    Thanks for sharing this along with your many additional suggestions.

    Leigh Zeitz

  48. Many teachers are using SyncPad ( for this purpose

  49. Anonymous says:

    Have you looked at short throw interactive projectors such as those from Epson, BenQ, Dell, and others? You use a wireless “marker” to “write” on a standard whiteboard (or even a wall) and it behaves like a mouse to run whatever application is on the attached computer. Street prices are $1500 or less and they provide a lot of the functionality of an interactive whiteboard for only about $200-$400 more than you’d pay for a comparably performing projector. I like the “hands on” nature of holding an iPad in my hands but since your pretty much need a projector in most environments anyway, this is even cheaper than buying one iPad. We’re right in the midst of installing these in a number of locations at the university that I work for.

  50. […] article on how you can use your iPad as a mobile device connected to your smartboard or a projector: iPad as an Interactive White Board for $5, $10 […]

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