50 Euro IWB
I was delighted to be invited to speak at this year’s IATEFL LT & TD SIG conference in Istanbul, Turkey. I put in a proposal to discuss IWBs and the lessons I’d learnt from watching teachers get used to using them in my training sessions. When the confirmation came through in early May, I gave a whoop! I’d never been to Turkey before, but had heard loads of good reports from friends who said how friendly and welcoming people there tend to be.
What’s more, Burcu Akyol who is a conference organiser par-excellence, was co-ordinating the team which organised the whole weekend. Basically I need say little more than I can’t wait to go to Turkey or Istanbul again. I had such a great time, the conference attendees were wonderful people, the talks were really top quality and the on the last night, when I went out for dinner… the food… oh the food! It was fabulous!
Anyhow, let’s get to the point, during the talk I promised the teachers present, that I’d post up the IWB slides I used to support my talk. The slides contain useful hints and tips for teachers starting out with IWBs as well as a whole bunch of links to some really handy tools to make teachers lives easier when creating interactive activities.
I stumbled across this handy, home-made video comparison of the €3000+ Smart Interactive White Board and the €50 or so Wiimote Whiteboard the other day. As it’s done from the perspective of teachers I think it’s findings, both positive and negative, about the Wiimote board are really interesting.
Last summer I wrote a post about a n IWB that costs just €50 that the technology guru / geek Johnny Lee had invented using an infra-red pen and a Wii remote. I was really excited about it thinking that maybe this could help many more schools get IWB technology into the class.
I made myself the €50 IWB, I tried it out a few times last summer and I must admit the results were not all that encouraging. I didn’t think much more of it until recently when I “met” a guy called Chris Hill (thanks to my friend Enza via Twitter). Chris is a big evangelist of the Wii remote IWB. This started getting me interested again in the project. I’ve been looking again at my Wii console think “Should I drag you back to the classroom? The answer now, I think is, yes, I will.
My desire to try out the Wiimote IWB again is because Chris has written a handy and comprehensive FAQ on the Wii IWB drawing on his experiences and sharing solutions to the niggly little problems teachers might find when trying to set up their own Wii IWB. Here’s a quick snippet of his post:
How much does it cost? / Is it really only $50?
The controller for the Nintendo Wii is for sale throughout the United States for $40. [It costs about €50 in Europe – Seth] You can build an infrared pen for $5-6. The software is free to download. The cost of the computer, projector, and Bluetooth adapter (if your computer does not have built-in Bluetooth) are not included in the $50.
I can’t make my own infrared pen. Can I buy one?
Absolutely. Do a Google search and you will find several options starting as low as $6.
Do I have to modify the Wiimote? / Can I still use it with my Wii?
No / Yes. The Wiimote connects to the computer via Bluetooth, the same way it connects to the Wii. You don’t have to open the Wiimote, break it, or reprogram it. So, if you (or your kids) have a Wii, you can use the equipment you already have for both purposes.
How do I get started?
Download the free software (Mac version or PC version), build an infrared pen (see my demo) or buy one online, connect to the Wiimote via Bluetooth (open your Bluetooth devices, push the 1 and 2 buttons on the Wiimote, add the device) , run the software, calibrate it (push the “calibrate button,” click on the targets), and you are done.
And Chris has loads of other great advice in his post as well as elsewhere in his blog. Definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in trying out the Wiimote white board!
All the best,
Wiimote Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yerahg/551627536/
Affordable interactive white board technology for every school sounds a bit Utopian, don’t you think? I recently found out that maybe it’s more realistic than you might have guessed! I know that pretty soon I’m going to have to tone down my enthusiastic introductions, but I literally applauded the computer screen (like a weirdo) when I saw this.
After recently having spent more than €4000 at our language school on a brand new commercially produced IWB, you can imagine that I was just a bit surprised when reading Joe Dale’s blog about a school in Ireland who had managed to make one for under €50. “Rubbish,” I thought to myself. I thought wrong. The Inver National school in Ireland even have a blog to show you the how-to-dos of the whole process.
From searching through the Inver National’s video of the whole process, I found out that it’s the brain-child of Johnny Lee, a veritable genius of affordable and accessible interactive technology. It was at this point that I started clapping 🙂
Essentially it’s a very simple idea, which has been turned to good use. Simple ideas are always the best, don’t you think? The €50 IWB uses a Wiimote- the remote control from a Nintendo Wii, which costs €40 from my local supermarket, and an infra-red pen.
The Wiimote contains an infra-red sensor which can track the movement of an infra red light source. Johnny connected his Wiimote to a computer using Bluetooth and with a little bit of programming magic, he came up with some free IWB software to make it all work together. Incredible!
Here is his video on how to setup the IWB:
So I don’t think you need me to tell you how much this could benefit schools in countries where the economy is still developing, but from looking at this, I’d say that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of schools worldwide have now got IWBs within their price range. That has got to be a good thing, don’t you reckon?
I’ll definitely be trying this out with our school and I’ll be sure to write about it here too. If you want to try it out, watch this space and I’ll let you know how I get on. Send me a comment if you fancy trying to work together on making a Wii IWB, Two minds are definitely better than one!