Interactive Whiteboards & Spongelab: a Match Made in the Classroom
Interactive whiteboards have seen widespread adoption in classrooms and lecture halls across North America, thanks to their ease of use, their advanced features as well as how they encourage students to work in teams. Currently installed in over 1.5 million classrooms across North America, they’re a great way to use helpful technology in front of a whole classroom. They aren’t, however, a content-based teaching solution - and that’s where Spongelab comes in.
The Spongelab science learning platform is designed as a web-browser based solution for deploying educational multimedia in the classroom and integrating intelligent reporting analytics to track students’ learning. One of the most useful features of interactive whiteboards is how they can integrate with other technology in the classroom, such as tablets, controllers or smartphones, enabling teachers to host interactive, device-to-screen quizzes and teaching activities.
Popular examples of interactive whiteboards include SMART , Promethean and the lower budget Mimio systems, both of which offer comparable functionality for teacher-led instruction. These displays are designed to encourage students to interact with their peers through group activities, promoting classroom confidence and teamwork. While durable, they are limited in portability due to the technical fact that they are large projection displays that are designed to be semi-permanently installed in a classroom. On a per-student basis, compared with tablets, computers or other individual technologies, interactive whiteboards can represent fantastic value-for-money when it comes to technology in the classroom.
The great thing about Spongelab’s science education platform is that it works automatically with interactive whiteboards. Straight out of the box, a SMART board, Promethean display, Mimio projection or any interactive whiteboard can run the Spongelab website along with all of its games and teaching tools. Because Spongelab has developed an infrastructure to host and deploy a massive amount of multimedia and web-based tools, all online and in-browser, no installation is necessary. All of this makes Spongelab and interactive whiteboards a perfect pairing of educational technology.
With this in mind, here are some of the best reasons for using Spongelab with your interactive classroom whiteboard:
1. Touch screen capabilities on interactive whiteboards are an instant stand-out feature to get more out of Spongelab.
Spongelab has tons of great touch-sensitive content that works well with interactive whiteboards. In Build-a-Body, students can use their hands to drag and drop different human organs in place on a human body. The same goes for all of our “Build-a” games: including Animal Anatomy, Build-a-Tree and Build-a-Plant, all of which allow give students a tactile environment to experiment with real biological systems (without the messiness and complications of dissection kits). Dragon Breeder, now in public beta, allows users to control a complex genetic breeding environment. Players can touch-tap dragons to control their breeding behaviour, or take them to a cloud world to hop between clouds and build pedigree.
2. Software contained with interactive whiteboards can enable note-taking and sharing.
The features of interactive white boards go beyond touch-sensitive functionality. These boards contain software which, when installed on a computer that is connected to the board, can store notes taken by the teacher. This works perfectly with Spongelab’s own note-taking system, which together can allow teachers to keep their whiteboard notes online rather than tied to a single machine - making Spongelab very useful for teachers who use multiple whiteboards across different classrooms. Some interactive whiteboards can also collect notes typed by students, when paired wirelessly with computers or tablets in the classroom.
3. Hand-writing recognition
Along with an on-screen software keyboard, many interactive whiteboards can also recognize handwriting by users. Using OCR software, these interactive whiteboards can turn translate cursive (and regular) hand-writing into text - either when written on a graphic tablet or on the interactive display itself. With Spongelab, this makes it easier for a teacher to take notes, and also helps their students to fill in details for their Spongelab profile among other features. Thankfully, though, Spongelab has been designed so that little text input is necessary to use the system or any of the educational games.
4. Interactive classroom polls
Spongelab’s educational multimedia, including games, animations, images and more, are all best used in the classroom with teacher-led instruction. While many of our games as designed in quiz formats - such as the biology trivia game Knowledge Mine - it’s ideal to pair our online learning platform with classroom activities. Using an Audience Response System that is available with many interactive whiteboards, teachers can poll their classroom audience or conduct quizzes, capturing feedback onto the whiteboard. Turn a Spongelab lesson into a fully interactive experience with classroom activities that connect the learner to our multimedia content in a tangible, instantaneous way.
To find out more about great games and interactive simulations to use on interactive whiteboards, see Spongelab’s Featured Content page.