The term whiteboard names several different devices used for communication in offices and classrooms. The original whiteboard was literally a white-colored dry-erase board. It took its name by analogy to the chalkboards called blackboards. Like them, the whiteboard is a device on which one can write and erase, so it is useful for many of the same situations as a chalkboard or flip chart, creating a space that multiple people can see and refer to or interact in.
The erasable markers made for the original type of whiteboard include bolder colors than one finds in chalk, and can, of course, be used without creating chalk dust. An issue that arises for some people with dry erase markers is the odor, and one must be careful not to use markers that are not specifically made for the surface because they do not erase easily. This type of whiteboard comes in a variety of sizes.
Another kind of whiteboard is an interactive touch-screen for computers that allows you to operate a computer by touching the board. Some such whiteboards allow for interactive screen capture, which means that by a simple operation, you can copy material created on the whiteboard to the computer. Other capabilities of a computer-enabled whiteboard include interactive annotation of projected computer image and interactive annotation to fill in a projected template, both of which can then be saved via screen capture.
A third type of whiteboard is an on-line interactive space available for the input of text, drawing, and so on. People in different locations can all sign-on to the same whiteboard space and create a mutual composition, plan, project, or drawing that is visible to all users in real-time.
A whiteboard of any type can be used:
- to demonstrate or display previously prepared information for viewing by multiple individuals;
- as a surface on which to project non-interactive media such as slides, movies, power point presentations, or a real-time view of a computer screen in order to entertain, educate, or inform; and
- to capture the simultaneous or sequential contributions of multiple participants in a forum, whether recorded by the participants themselves or by a designated scribe.