Here's a quick measure of how sold Warsaw Community School District is on the concept of MimioTeach interactive whiteboard system: There's one in every classroom in the district.
"When it comes out of the box, it works," said Jim LeMasters, former technology director for the district in Warsaw, Ind. "It's just a really versatile tool. It enhances education and it captures the kids' attention."
The technology in the MimioTeach system, developed by DYMO/Mimio Interactive Teaching Technologies, turns an ordinary whiteboard into an interactive one. It features a portable, electronic bar that attaches to the side of a conventional dry-erase board and wirelessly interacts with a pen stylus in the same way that a mouse interacts with a computer screen. The system combines an ordinary computer, wireless receiver, projector and special software to allow the addition of video and audio clips, importing of lesson plans, the capture of on-screen notes and other capabilities.
LeMasters, who now teaches technology in the district, praises its ease of use.
"We offered a lot of different levels of training, but we found within 30 minutes most teachers were up and running on it," he said. "Being able to annotate on top of anything, pull up an article? it's just an extension of your computer. The pen becomes an extension of the mouse. It's just intuitive in how it works."
The MimioTeach system is easy enough to use that even students are eager to begin clicking with the stylus. The Warsaw district has also invested in MimioPad? wireless tablets that allow teachers to roam the classroom and still manipulate the whiteboard.
"Kids are captivated by video today," LeMasters said. "They're captivated by big screens. Even at high school, it's like magic writing on a board that isn't really there. For us, it works." Warsaw first began using Mimio products three years ago. Before that, it had experimented with 20 whiteboards from a competitor. Once a decision was made to put interactive whiteboards in every classroom, LeMasters?the son of a purchasing manager?did a little digging.
"I grew up comparing everything," he said. He visited another district that was using Mimio and came away impressed. First, the cost was less than the system Warsaw was piloting. If the district had gone with the rival solution, it would have been able to outfit only 75 percent of its classes, not all of them. Second, the technology was both cool and reliable, an issue that had cropped up after breakdowns with the competitor's product. LeMasters also was looking for more than a straight business relationship. Anybody can sell you something, " he said. "I wanted a partner, not a vendor. I felt Mimio was a partner with us. They wanted education to move forward. If something was broken, they'd say send it right back—no hassle, no nothing."
Finding the right partners is important because Warsaw has developed a curriculum for technology that begins in kindergarten. "Technology is a means, not necessarily an end," LeMasters said.
"It's not a substitute for education, but it should be a tool that works right alongside," he added.
When it comes to interactive whiteboards, the MimioTeach system is the tool of choice for Warsaw.
To get more information on the entire MimioClassroom? family of products, please visit mimio.dymo.com/A66.