After the massive investment in the interactive whiteboards from 2008-2011 in Irish primary schools it seemed that the I.W.B. was here for the long haul and that our classrooms were going to be transformed! While I am a great fan of the I.W.B. and using it as a teaching resource to enhance the teaching and learning within the classroom, I was not a fan of blowing light bulbs, buying new bulbs, installing new light bulbs, cleaning projectors using a vacuum cleaner to remove dust, overheating, adjusting projectors that had being moved while suspended from the ceiling due to the slamming of the classroom door! The maintenance and up keep is time consuming, expensive and gave me a headache.
I’ve started in a new school and they have replaced their I.W.B. with MiTouch Interactive Touchscreen displays. These are just like giant Interactive T.V. screens which you plug your HDMI cable into and off you go. No drivers, so software downloads, no updating of firmware that all may result in your I.W.B. not working or you having to roll back upgrades to get it working again! No projector so you have none of the maintenance issues associated with them either. The classroom teachers are very impressed by them.
Of course what you do have is another hefty outlay on I.C.T. equipment by the school. The 55 inch MiTouch is priced at €3111.90 including VAT, while Toomey AV have a CleverTouch Plus 55 inch for €3,358 including VAT. Will the Interactive Flat Screen last longer than the I.W.B? Will they prove value for money?
Should we just go out to our local TV store and buy a 55 inch flat screen TV that costs between €700 – €1400. You can just as easily connect your HDMI cable to this and display everything from your laptop/PC, but of course you will not have the interactive capability. Is this a viable option for teachers that may rarely use the interactive functions? We could just as easily use a wireless mouse to allow pupils manipulate data on the screen. Are they suitable for a classroom environment? Of course if you do go and buy the 55 inch TV, don’t forget to buy the TV license at €160 per TV!
I think that before we go and spend all of this money again that we have to know what we are spending it on and fully inform ourselves of the pros and cons.