Digital whiteboard versus traditional whiteboard

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Schools are in a race to keep up with the digital age. One visible change we see is the move from traditional whiteboards to digital whiteboards. This move is somewhat inevitable but it’s not an easy one. Teachers’ and students’ opinions vary greatly on whether they like to use it or not. One criticism that is often cited is that they just function as giant computer screens, acting as projectors more than a space to use for an explanation.

While this might be partially true, the added functions aim to give more freedom to the way information is presented. The focus, therefore, is more on the presentation aspect than on the explanation aspect. It can help present information rather than just providing a space to write down information. Before the pandemic, this wasn’t considered to be a big difference but it is now. One of the many problems that teachers faced in the online space was that it was hard for many to keep track of how and when information was presented. They were used to the frontal approach when the teacher stands in from of the whiteboard and writes down whatever needs to be explained and the students interact verbally or go to the board and write on it and/or write down information in their notebooks. This limited interactivity is challenged in the digital space.

On one hand, interactivity is immediate and can come in many different forms but on the other hand, it is harder to keep track of it. Students were complaining during the pandemic that it was hard for them to know what exactly was required from them to do and what assignments were due when, and for which subject.

The main problem with digitalization is that information needs to be structured, stored, and presented differently otherwise it becomes scattered and hard to keep track of. This is true for online classes as well as for the digitalization of the classroom. Teachers and students need to adapt to the new way of acquiring information: from one source but in different forms rather than from many different forms.

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of the whiteboard and the digital whiteboard:

whiteboard:

  • frontal teaching
  • written information
  • easy to use
  • only written information or very limited image use
  • little interactivity

digital whiteboard:

  • different types of information presented in many different ways
  • more interactivity
  • learning curve
  • harder to structure

Online whiteboards are also in the mix and can be used together with screen sharing, mind mapping apps, and other online tools during live online classes. They can be used to replicate the feeling and flexibility of using a real whiteboard.