I am extremely excited. After years of being in the dark ages, in terms of the technology in my district, things are finally beginning to change.
Today I received confirmation that my order for Macbook Pro laptop computers for every teacher in my district has been received and is being processed. That is 665 Macbook Pro computers!
In addition, I ordered enough iMac computers to create 12, 30 user labs.
Now it comes down to careful planning for and proper staff training for a successful integration and acceptance of these new Macs in my historically PC/Microsoft-based environment.
Excited, but nervous. With an anticipated delivery date of mid-April, I have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time to get ready.
As stated in a previous post, the decision has been made to move forward with an ambitious plan to implement over 500 Polyvision eno interactive whiteboards.
This decision was not arrived at without much contemplation and evaluation. Other whiteboards were considered and thoroughly researched and tested. Boards from Promethean, Hitatchi, Mimio and 3M, among others, were also researched. The decision not to go with products from one of these manufacturers is in no way meant to reflect a bad experience with any of the products researched and tested. In fact, with little exception, all of the boards tested performed extremely well. Instead, the decision is based solely upon the strengths of eno.
Aside from the incredible durability factor of the eno, there are a number of other very impressive features. For starters, through its unique design, the eno interactive whiteboard contains no electronics components. This leaves no room for mechanical failures. As the Polyvision representatives were quick to point out, if (they say “if” because the product is new and therefore doesn’t have a track record) there should ever be any problems, the board and stylus can be swapped out separately. Again, the boards come with an unprecedented “lifetime warranty.”
The eno package includes the board and a teacher’s kit. The kit contains a bluetooth dongle and a stylus, along with replacement stylus points and batteries. The stylus, or more precisely, the pen, is by far the best of all that were sampled. Using this pen is more like writing with a pen on paper, than any of the devices from other manufacturers. Unlike other packages, the eno does not smear a line across the board when the outside of your hand leans against the board while writing, which happens quite frequently. Children will also feel more comfortable with this pen because using it more closely resembles holding the pen as they are taught to write with pen or pencil on paper, when first learning to write.
The software that comes with the eno is RM Easiteach software from RM Education. Armed with this software and the online resources that go along with it, a teacher can bring the classroom to life. To further prepare teachers, the Professional Developers from Polyvision are available to help. Arguments can be made that the “notebook” software from SMART is more readily identified as the industry standard. Polyvision reps will counter that the notebook software does work with the eno. They are correct. It does work, but at this time it does not offer the same Flash component functionality.
Often when teachers are told they are the lucky recipient of a new interactive whiteboard for their classroom, they inevitably bemoan that they do not want to lose valuable chalk board space. Fear not! The eno can be written on regularly with dry erase markers. Other boards make the same claim but come up short in this area. Often dry erase markers will leave behind a residue that can even permanently stain the boards.
For all the wonderful things uncovered about the eno in testing, this package is not without some issues of its own. As mentioned earlier, there are some software issues that will likely be improved as time goes on. While the ceramic design and lack of electronics in the board provide durability, they also prevent interaction without the stylus. A teacher or student cannot simply use their finger to work with the board. This is more of an issue in the primary grades.
There is also some concern about the battery life of the stylus. Further, since the stylus is integral and extremely portable, there is an obvious concern about loss or theft.
While the eno presents a solid new approach to interactive whiteboards, much remains to be seen about how successful this product will be.