It has only been quite recently that classrooms have become truly interactive learning environments. It has taken some great leaps forward in technology to make it happen, but we are only now starting to see classrooms that enable young learners to interact with the teacher and the learning environment. Through the use of many different kinds of technology, we are seeing young people step beyond conventional books and pick up stylus, electronic pen and tablet to learn better, faster and more effectively. In this article we look at one of the most recent inventions that has really become a mainstay in the modern classroom, with schools across the world having one in pretty much every classroom: the IR whiteboard.
The very first IR (infra-red) touch screen was invented back in 1972 and was a marvel at the time. If you think about modern smartphones for example, we are used to managing a screen by using our fingers. It seems almost second nature to us. However, back in 1971, it was seen as an amazing leap forward in technology to be able to manipulate the data and information on screen by using touch. The first touch sensor was developed by Dr Sam Hurst. However, it wasn’t until 1983 that the first usable technology came into play, with Hewlett Packard developing the HP-150, the very first commercially available IR screen whiteboard. This was the granddaddy of the modern electronic whiteboard we see in classrooms today. The principle here was the same in basic terms to today’s electronic whiteboards. It was a large monitor with a grid of infrared beams shooting and crisscrossing across it from one end to the other. These beams detected any finger movements and then acted accordingly. The birth of the modern whiteboard that classrooms now see as being basic equipment.
Things have changed much since then. The main change has been in the technology used to identify touch among the users of the boards. The first one used infrared but the later technology has brought forward emerging technologies that quickly became standard, such as resistive and capacitive technology.
Touch screens are incredibly durable and it is for this reason that they are used in a variety of settings and for a wide range of purposes. For example, they are used readily in the military, due to the fact that they can be so durable, and therefore perfect for military personnel who need to rely on tough technology that can be used in pretty much any hostile setting. It is for similar reasons that they are used in hospitals and other settings where there is sometimes little time to type on a keyboard and quick, responsive screens are necessary.
It is all this toughness and this versatility that makes interactive whiteboard technology perfect for the interactive classroom, where children who are perhaps a little rougher with technology can still manipulate the screen without any worries about damaging anything. They are durable and responsive, and with the added tools in the classroom like digital pens and tables, they are truly helping to transform the modern classroom into an interactive experience.