ActivBoards, A New Way To Teach?

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Our school district has invested $14 million dollars into putting Promethean ActivBoards into every classroom and Media Center in the district. This ambitious project has been an ever changing work in progress. The first phase of installs has been 15% of the classrooms. The teachers that have gotten ActivBoards in there classrooms have primarily been receptive to their new teaching partner, while the kids have just loved it.

Let me explain what an ActivBoard is so you can better understand how it changes the way a teacher has to teach. Watch an Overview here to see it in action. The ActivBoard is a large “Interactive Whiteboard” that you don’t use dry erase markers on. But as you can see it is much more, it is a PC, a VCR, a flipchart, a PowerPoint, a DVD player, an interactive lesson with your students, a center during class, the Internet, a TV for special events and more. An ActivBoard can be attached to a PC, either a laptop or a desktop running ActivStudio Professional or ActivPrimary for Elementary Schools K-2. Also standard with our ActivBoards are speakers with an Amplifier and a DVD/VCR. Along the line we will be adding a document camera, but you can also attach an ELMO and other devices to the ActivBoard.

Can you imagine showing a video or DVD of Martin Luther King, pausing the DVD during “I Have a Dream”, changing to the PC in two clicks where you have flipchart or a web page showing something that you want to focus on at that point in the speech, then switching back to the DVD to continue where you stopped? You can even have the students use the ActivBoard to answer questions about the DVD and the Flipchart lesson afterwards using the ActiVote personal response system that captures student responses by asking students to make a choice on the hand held voters by clicking a button. A mini quiz without the students knowing it. The kids think it’s a game, answer the question right and be the first or get the most questions correct.

I want to stress how much the kids really love the ActivBoard. It’s interactive, it’s entertaining, they get to use it and most important, they listen to the lesson. From my life experiences, when someone enjoys doing something they tend to pay better attention, learn more and retain it better. I have no statistical proof, but this would lead me to think that the kids will improve in grade point average and to some degree on the standardized tests that the lawmakers seem to think are needed to show Yearly Progress. The ActivBoards are by no means the only way we should teach, not at all. We should be doing some things the old fashioned way, like writing and reading. We shouldn’t stop going on field trips just because the ActivBoard can go just about anywhere, while it doesn’t have to move from the room. We shouldn’t stop going outside, sitting at a set of lunch benches and reading out loud with our students.

ActivBoards are a good advancement in teaching methods, they should be used in conjunction with current teaching methods. Some day the ActivBoard will break, you’ll need a backup lesson plan to do it the old way. Don’t replace the car when you are just adding a new coat of paint.

I think the ActivBoards are a great addition, take a look at Promethean World and Promethean Planet.

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7 thoughts on “ActivBoards, A New Way To Teach?

    Ed Darrell said:
    March 14, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    I used them in the Irving, Texas, school district — great tools.

    But for most of what we needed, a simple projector with a DVD connected, or a connection to the computer did the trick.

    I had wished that the installations were all of the interactive screens, but Irving opted to move away from them. We had a couple around the school that we’d used earlier, and I expect they’ll eventually go away.

    It’s a tool ahead of its time, in most cases. I hope you can used it to a great deal of its usefulness, and I hope you’ll report back on successes.

    Anonymous said:
    March 14, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    I used them in the Irving, Texas, school district — great tools.

    But for most of what we needed, a simple projector with a DVD connected, or a connection to the computer did the trick.

    I had wished that the installations were all of the interactive screens, but Irving opted to move away from them. We had a couple around the school that we’d used earlier, and I expect they’ll eventually go away.

    It’s a tool ahead of its time, in most cases. I hope you can used it to a great deal of its usefulness, and I hope you’ll report back on successes.

    jjtech said:
    August 15, 2008 at 5:45 am

    We’re installing ACTIVboards in more than half of our grade 1-8 classrooms this summer. All grade levels will have at least two ACTIVboards, ceiling-mounted projectors, cabling (VGA, s-video, RCA) and 40W speakers. The teachers were all self-selected and have already attended introductory training. Mentors are available. Everyone is excited about the possibilities for engagement and learning!

    Carlton Griffin said:
    September 25, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    The Activboard article peaked my curiousity and when I watched the video overview and the Interactive demonstration I was really hooked. I can see why the children love it. The activboard has unique features that are designed to grab your attention. What a step-up in technology from the old drab whiteboard! Activboards could be used in almost any teaching/learning environment in my area except in an Early Childhood setting (birth-pre-school. I would like to use the activboard in my church Sunday School/Bible Study area because of the length of the room, people sitting in the back have problems hearing the teacher and seeing the whiteboard. The activboard, a complete system with speakers/amplifiers would improve teacher effectiveness and student attention and retention. This is an interactive board, it is an exciting tool to use that would elevate higher levels of learning for both teacher and student that could never be accomplished with the use of the board currently in place.

    Bhavisha Thakkar said:
    September 25, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    I must admit I was not aware of such technology as ActivBoards. After reading the article and watching the brief video it is intriguing to see such technologies. I am not sure what area would benefit most from it, but it seems handy enough were many instructors could use it as conjunction with their daily lesson plans. One field of study I can see this technology in use is in science. Especially, during biology courses the teacher would have an easier time with pinpoint specific organ. All in all it seem sto be really fun technology for teachers to use.

    Theresa Manley said:
    September 26, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Theresa Manley
    Edu 2800

    Actiboards

    I found the article to be quiet interesting. But to be honest this is the first time I have heard of anything like this. Watching the overview and short demo on the Actiboard, I thought this would be great and a new way of teaching my kindergarteners. They would love it, I feel it would help them learn a lot faster and better. They would think that they are playing a game, when in reality they are learning. This would not take the place of regular teaching, but a different approach to peak the Childs interest in a new way of learning.

    mizzmonica said:
    October 27, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I have been SO happy with my Activboard since the district put them in. I keep finding new ways to use it, and my kids do too. It has given me a whole new level to connect with them on, and that sort of common ground is priceless for a teacher. Can’t wait til the next version of the software comes out. Next year I think. Early I hope!

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