An interactive whiteboard (IWB) device can either be a standalone computer or a large, functioning touchpad for computers to use in the Classroom.
A device driver is usually installed on the attached computer so that the interactive whiteboard can act as a Human Input Device (HID), like a mouse. The computer's video output is connected to a digital projector so that images may be projected on the interactive whiteboard surface.
The user then calibrates the whiteboard image by matching the position of the projected image in reference to the whiteboard using a pointer as necessary. After this, the pointer or other device may be used to activate programs, buttons, and menus from the whiteboard itself, just as one would ordinarily do with a mouse. If text input is required, the user can invoke an on-screen keyboard or, if the whiteboard software provides for this, utilize handwriting recognition. This makes it unnecessary to go to the computer keyboard to enter text.
Thus, an IWB emulates both a mouse and a keyboard. The user can conduct a presentation or a class almost exclusively from the whiteboard.
In addition, most IWBs are supplied with software that provides tools and features specifically designed to maximize interaction opportunities. These generally include the ability to create virtual versions of paper flipcharts, pen and highlighter options, and possibly even virtual rulers, protractors, and compasses—instruments that would be used in traditional classroom teaching.Uses for interactive whiteboards may include:
- Running software that is loaded onto the connected PC, such as a web browser or other software used in the classroom.
- Capturing and saving notes written on a whiteboard to the connected PC
- Capturing notes written on a graphics tablet connected to the whiteboard
- Controlling the PC from the whiteboard using click and drag, markup which annotates a program or presentation
- Using OCR software to translate cursive writing on a graphics tablet into text
- Using an Audience Response System so that presenters can poll a classroom audience or conduct quizzes, capturing feedback onto the whiteboard