Sunday, March 18, 2007

Not Your Father's Whiteboard

Let's look at the evolution of boards - of course, we started with chalkboards - major innovations include going from gray boards to green and low-dust chalk. More recent innovations have been the whiteboard, low-odor markers and the smartboard. Although the smartboards are pretty impressive, they still haven't dramatically changed they way most of us interact with our students - or the students with each other.

What I'd like to share with you today are some interesting things happening with board (not bored) technology. The first, leverages the power of the Internet - increasing bandwidth and nearly ubiquitous connectivity - to provide online collaborative whiteboards. There's been such a proliferation of these services - many of them free - that many courses management systems have begun to include them. Examples include:

Both of these free services allow users to share an online whiteboard and collaborate.

Even more revolutionary is what you'll see in the following video from the 2006 Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference. This February 2006 video shows NYU researcher Jeff Han demonstrating a multi-touch interface his research group has been developing. As you watch the video, imagine how this technology might change the way humans interact with machines - even better, imagine that this was your whiteboard!

Since that presentation, a lot has happened. Jeff Han started a company Perceptive Pixel; his group built a wall-sized version;

and they've begun selling them - mostly to the CIA and Defense Department.

TED is a four-day conference in Monterey, California where 50 invited speakers give 18 minute presentations. At a whopping $6,000 a pop, TED tickets are hard to come by - in spite of that the 2008 conference is already sold-out. Though it's unlikely you or I could ever go to TED, we can share in the experience. At you can view and download videos of the talks. Take some time and explore the site - there's a lot of great stuff there!


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