Thursday, April 23, 2009

Using Wiimotes to Create Interactive Whiteboards

Over the last three years there's been a big trend to buy what are called active whiteboards. These boards are like a giant pen-tablet on steroids. I have one and I use it to do software demos by interacting with a pen on the surface of what looks like a standard whiteboard. I also do PowerPoint presentations and show interactive content via this technology. It gives you a method of engaging students versus just standing there and lecturing (also known in the teaching biz as, "Stand and Deliver"). There are several companies who make them, but our district buys from a company called Promethean. Core curriculum teachers use the software that comes with these boards to create really cool interactive lessons in History, English, Math, etc.

Today I was at a regional meeting of tech-focused teachers. One of the attendees did a very cool demo using a Wiimote with an LCD projector to create a cheap active whiteboard. Promethean ActivBoards are very expensive - I think we pay a little over $5,000 per unit. Based on what this resourceful teacher showed me you can make your own for no more than $50 bucks. I was psyched to learn that it was an idea from Johnny Chung Lee - a guy who I've admired for his work on interactivity while attending Carnegie Mellon. Anyways, the teacher did an impressive demo today. Here's Johnny Lee's video explaining the setup...



To get this to run you'll need to build an infrared pen and download the software that allows you to calibrate the pen. Pretty cool and very cost effective for today's schools.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

Yeah, I talked about this with Kevin Campbell when we were first getting Active Boards in our classrooms... he sluffed it off as another student recommendation (that the faculty rarely pays attention to, or takes action on).

Evan said...

That's amazing Scott. Time to get started on it.

Dave Enna said...

Haha try using Wiimotes for PowerPoints, not only do they let you advance slides, but you can make it vibrate and blink the 'Player lights' for a time. I set mine to 4,5,8,9.5 for the senior boards. Not to mention you can use the IR as a mouse should anything major go wrong. All it requires is a bluetooth dongle.