Quick #EdTech tip IWB Mobilized #JulyChallenge 2/31 #MTBoS

I have some ideas for the next few days of posts, mostly dealing with metaphors for teaching.  So far on that list is Farming, Cooking, and I’ve heard that there’s also some thoughts on fishing.  Let’s take a quick commercial break brought to you by the folks at Waco, Swordsoft, Peardeck, Google, and I’m sure some others might creep in.

I used to loved interactive whiteboards.  Yes, that is a past tense reference.  Most of my experience with these is with the Promethean Company.

I learned to be proficient with the standard slide software ActivInspire in which I made plenty of flipcharts.  It was awesome.  I could make interactive presentations, I could screencast the material or export it to multiple other standard formats.  Then I realized the down sides.  Cost.  The handcuffs that anyone in the education industry is all to familiar with.  These boards are expensive.  The accessories are expensive.  And one major downside to the standard entry level interactive whiteboard was it’s own built in shackles.  The board required that you be within arms reach to interact with it.  Of course, one could buy a mobile tablet that goes with the board/software, and that brings us back issue #1: cost.  Companies justify this cost by showing the awesome capabilities of the hardware and software that comes with the package.

I tried some alternatives, like Johnny Lee’s low cost interactive whiteboard that was even featured on TED.  This worked every once in a while, but it still required close proximity to some board as well as constant recharging and calibration.  It started me thinking on how to find low cost alternatives, something more practical for the average teacher.

I tried some Wacom tablets, starting with my first, a bluetooth model refurbished from eBay.

Photo from gizmag.com

This again was alright, but still inconsistent and cumbersome.

A little more than a year ago my student teacher and I tried a newer model of the Wacom Tablet with an added RF wireless adapter.

I LOVE IT.  Here’s why:

  • connects over RF, no wifi required (you can go wireless anywhere, up to about 30′)
  • low weight, I can easily hold it in my hand without feeling a strain as a roam the classroom
  • reasonable cost: $80 tablet + $40 Wireless adapter kit
  • battery: single charge easily lasts more than a full day of HEAVY use, often I get at least a week off one charge

But wait, what about that fancy software?  Aren’t all the built in math tools wonderful?  Yes they are, but Google Drawings, Google Slides, Geogebra, Desmos, and EduCreations have pretty much matched anything I’d done before.  Also, that screen annotation available in those fancy software packages have been replaced by ScreenInk by Swordsoft for a whopping $2.

For those of you that are partial to iPads and apps like AirPlay mirroring,  Reflector, Splashtop or SlideShark, I respect that.  A tablet stylus tends to not be as precise as the Wacom technology, and this tablet with RF adapter doesn’t have a time delay like the others.

With many classrooms incorporating technology into the classroom, teachers need to be mobile now more than ever.  I would also qualify that with maintaining a balance of tech use in the classroom.  Electronic does not imply engaged, and a mobile teacher is needed to manage the 21st century classroom.  By the way, if you didn’t catch the primary advantage, the total cost of this Wacom package (~$120) is about %10 of most other solutions.  Go bug your principals and edutech purchasers to look into this.  I’d be more than happy to field any questions or comments on the issue.

If you have another alternative, I’d also love to hear about that.

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About Mr-Butler

Math Teacher Volleyballer Crochet Crazy Puzzle Gamer

Posted on July 3, 2014, in Good Teaching, Technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thanks. I am going to try using ExplainEverything more next year. [or something similar that allows me to write on a PDF and post to my LMS]. I usually use a doc camera and Nspire. I want my students to be able to do what I am doing so that it is not just me and my dog and pony show. The whiteboard apps need dynamic geom software and the math apps need the ability to write on them. For now, the low cost alternative seems to be the math software/take a screenshot/write on it and then repeat this process, which is cumbersome. I never used SB or Prom., but they merged these two.

    p.s. ha ha typo for the single person’s math….connects over RF, no wife required

    • Thanks for the comment. Geogebra and desmos are both getting better by the day interactive math on a screen. Especially when the applet/page is pre made.

  2. Thanks for this. Does this Wacom tablet interact with the Promethian board? I have one in the classroom I am going to be using next year and love the idea of being mobile and use it.

    • Yeah. It interacts with your computer and whatever it is connected to. Think of it like a mouse pen. The wireless mouse that connected with a USB plug in now is a pen. Only drawback: it’s not plug n play (it has software that needs to be installed) so it won’t work with web based devices like a Chromebook. However the gStick hopefully will. I’ll throw in a link for that later. It’s still in prototype.

  3. thanks for the recommendation!

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