3 Fascinating Stages in the History of Writing Boards

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By Marilyn Royce

Hands up to those who remember the blackboard. It’s a classic element of schoolrooms across the world, and blackboards are still in use to this day.

But we’ve come a long way since the blackboard was first invented. New classroom technologies make it easier than ever for teachers to communicate and engage with their students.

Let’s unpack the history of technological advancements in the classroom from blackboards to a new approach for teachers – interactive smartboards.

1. The Origin of the Classroom Writing Board

Like a snowball rolling down a mountainside, gaining in size and speed, boards in classrooms have evolved over time. Smart interactive boards didn’t just happen; they had a definite beginning, and the ending will probably be a continuous design on an engineer’s table, forever changing and improving.

In 1801 James Pillans, a Scottish scholar and educational reformer, was credited with inventing the blackboard by hanging a large piece of slate on a wall. This revolutionized teaching then in that the whole class was provided with a central focus point. 

Teachers were able to present lessons with a more resourceful and useful visual aid. Added to this, he invented colored chalk, which allowed for color-coding and made the learning tool even more engaging for children. 

George Baron, born in the 1700s, was a mathematician who emigrated from the UK to Maine in the United States. He was the first American to use a black chalkboard in his math presentations.

By the middle of the 19th century, most classrooms around America and the world adopted the blackboard. Businesses also used them for presentations and meetings in their boardrooms. 

And so the popularity of chalkboards grew, until they eventually became mainstream.

2. Visions of Transformation in the Classroom

Transformation is always presented by opportunities, and challenges inspire visions. Couple these together, and technology moves along in leaps and boards. 

Martin Heit, a Korean War Veteran and photographer, invented the first whiteboard. He found that he could write on film negatives with a Sharpie while he was explaining his photographs to clients, and could then wipe off the Sharpie marks with a wet cloth. In the mid-1950s he invented the whiteboard. 

However, wet cloths were not the most successful erasers for whiteboards as they left marks on the board. In 1975, the first dry-erase markers were invented. They could be erased without a trace, and whiteboards became extremely popular throughout the world.

3. 21st-Century Alternatives to the Blackboard

Technology advancements in education are increasing at a rapid rate, and online education is one of the fastest growing optimizations of higher education. 

Evolving digital workplaces are seeking professionals who have had the opportunity as students to receive this new form of learning; a platform to improve virtual communication, making the world a smaller place. 

Born out of the humble beginnings of the blackboard, a new platform called the Learning Management System (LMS) is rapidly replacing historical classroom resources with a number of alternatives:

  • Moodle Whiteboards is an interactive system for online content for a perfect learning experience between the student and teacher.
  • Desire2Learn is a valuable resource which offers cloud services.
  • Online whiteboards offer collaboration through the digital platform and are highly innovative with pre-made templates for teams of students and teachers.
  • Interactive smart boards allow teachers and students to engage efficiently through the wall-mounted or mobile stand, connected to a computer via a touchscreen display. 

In Conclusion

Whatever visual aid system is being introduced in the classroom, the needs of the teachers and students are critical to an efficient and integrative learning experience. 

Developed over centuries of technological innovation, Interactive smart boards provide an articulation environment suitable for the different personalities of students.