An active board is a large interactive presentation panel that connects to a computer and projector. The projector launches the computer’s desktop onto the active board. The users of the board will manipulate the computer using a stylus, a finger or a laser pointer. Although many organizations utilize the active board for presentations, the classroom is the most accessible place where an active board is highly utilized to improve learning, especially in primary schools.
The active board’s presence in the classroom has already replaced the traditional whiteboard and visual aids in facilitating student learning. The following are the common uses of an active board in the classroom:
- Replaces traditional analog media. Flip charts, large spreadsheets and maps are removed from the classroom since the active board makes it easy for the teacher to manipulate software that can display such visual aids at the flick of a button. Film clips and audio files can also be played over the active board without utilizing other peripherals. Active boards also utilize styluses that display different colors to emphasize important terms. It also has an eraser that removes all unnecessary annotations at a swipe.
- Allows website interaction. Internet websites that aim to educate can be manipulated in the classroom. Although the teacher still has to type the website’s address from the keyboard, students will find it easy to answer the activities on the board provided by the website. The magnification on the active board can also be controlled behind the scenes by the teacher.
- Permits learning annotations. The ability of the digital media to be saved on the computer’s hard drive allows the students to participate fully in the discussion without worrying about the notes that they have to write down on their notebooks. The teacher simply prints it out, and the students can review them for later reference, or they could transfer the necessary items to their notebook.
- Record classroom instruction. Teachers will find recording lectures easily with the active board. This allows them to review the key points that have to be addressed during reinforcement. Absentees can also witness the missed class unfold and allow them to be in the know. Slow learners that benefit from repetition will find it handy, especially during reviews for major exams.
Advocates of the active board in the classroom praise its ability to provide mobility to the teacher while manipulating it anywhere in the room. That means the instructor can actually be seen by the students in front of the class and not behind the bulky personal computer. Opponents to the use of the active board complain about its inability to replicate the user’s handwriting since it still appears large, bulky and messy.
Factors that work against the proliferation and use of active boards in the classroom are its expensive cost and technological requirements. Studies conducted on the effectiveness of the active board show that it does not increase learning, as it relies mostly on the integration of the teacher into the lesson.