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Classroom Writing Surfaces Over the Years


Classroom Writing Surfaces Over the Years

Since the dawn of teaching, teachers have sought creative ways to present information to their students, making their subjects more engaging and easier to understand. Writing surfaces have always been one of the most effective tools, helping students identify fundamental concepts and guiding thought-provoking discussions.


Student engagement results in more desirable learning outcomes, and the interactive display is the latest writing surface to leave its mark on learning. Integrating smart boards and other technology makes the classroom more engaging for students and teachers and adds a dynamic that’s challenging to replicate. Teachers can combine written text with multimedia, boosting collaboration and presenting information in the best possible format for each student.


The road to interactive displays in education has been long. To fully understand their benefits, it’s essential to know their history. Each writing surface has left an indelible mark in the classroom, leading educators to the point where they can appeal to students today.


The Blackboard

Many of us still remember the squeak of chalk on a blackboard in class. Chalkboards were the first writing surface teachers could use to write something the whole class could read, revolutionizing teaching in many ways. There is some controversy over the inventor of this teaching tool. Some people credit James Pillans in 1801, a geography teacher and headmaster in Edinburgh, Scotland. George Baron, a West Point math teacher, earned his spot in history as the first to use a wall-mounted blackboard in the United States.


Regardless of which educator took this pioneering step, it brought education to the masses in many ways. Early blackboards were markedly different from what we remember in our classrooms — many consisted of pine and egg white materials blackened with carbon from charred potatoes. By the late 1800s, almost every schoolroom in America had a form of blackboard, and their manufacture became increasingly sophisticated. Slate became the standard writing surface.


Chalkboards stayed at the forefront of classroom education for 150 years. By the 1960s, blackboards had durable bases and a green porcelain enamel writing surface, making them user-friendly for teachers and students. Their name changed to “greenboards,” and they continued to shape education for a further 20 years before businesses and schools started to switch to erasable markers and plastic whiteboards in the 1980s, primarily due to health concerns regarding dust.


During its tenure, the blackboard educated many presidents, academics and trailblazers across industries. Blackboards are not obsolete, either. While rarely seen in modern classrooms, they are a charming fixture of many bars and restaurants, and chalk paint walls in children’s rooms create makeshift blackboards, perfect for encouraging creativity.


The Whiteboard

Like with the blackboard, the inventor of the whiteboard is a topic of some debate, though many credit photographer Martin Heit. He used a Sharpie to write on negatives when he conceived of the possibility and developed the first whiteboard in the mid-1950s. Many still preferred the blackboard, as the original whiteboards required wet cloths to clean and the markers often left smudges.


The invention of the dry-erase marker in 1975 changed the whiteboard’s trajectory. These markers wiped off the board without smudging or washcloths and provided many other benefits to teachers, students and businesspeople. In addition, whiteboards’ writing surfaces made content easier to read and transformed classrooms into brighter, more appealing places to learn.


Many schools initially installed whiteboards, but they gained their earliest popularity in businesses. Practical considerations like the expense of changing from tool to another were easier to navigate in an adult setting. Whiteboards could also double as projection screens for presentations.


Allergy concerns were one reason for the shift from blackboards to whiteboards, but another was the rise of computer technology in the classroom. Chalk dust — not from chalk at all, but gypsum — was the topic of many articles claiming it could damage computer equipment. Whiteboards were easier to clean, easier for students to see and less taxing for teachers to use.

Slowly, the whiteboard increasingly found its way into classrooms. By the 1990s, they were the preferred creative and collaborative tool for classrooms worldwide.


The Modern Solution — the Smart Board

Education and innovation have been almost synonymous since the beginning. Technology changed the world, including teaching and classroom dynamics. When schools implemented tech into their curricula, many teachers and students started experiencing the benefits of this innovation.


As teaching evolved, students needed more access to different media. Smart boards made traditional whiteboards interactive, changing the face of education yet again. Digital tools can lead to better learning outcomes, and lack of student engagement is one of the most significant challenges educators face today. Interactive whiteboards bring a digital element into the classroom, keeping students interested and allowing teachers to take a holistic approach to the learning experience.


The Modern Solution — the Smart Board

Like their predecessors, smart boards take center stage in the classroom. Still, this dynamic solution has built on the foundations of the blackboard and whiteboard and has many significant benefits in a classroom setting.

  • Engaging students: Interactive displays allow teachers to create a dynamic learning experience, writing or typing on the screen, highlighting important information, zooming in and sharing multimedia like videos, pictures and webpages.

  • Accommodating all students: Each student has a unique learning style, and interactive displays can accommodate every student on their learning journey. Visual learners can learn through videos and text, auditory learners can listen to content and hands-on learners can write on the board. Even remote students can attend lessons via videoconferencing.

  • Improving retention: You can clean a multimedia display just like a blackboard, but multimedia lets teachers save and share lessons with students to revisit later at home.

Finding creative ways to engage students is part of education, and interactive displays remove many of their predecessors’ limitations. Teachers and students can take a collaborative approach to learning, working together to meet students where they are and build on the foundations of legacy writing surfaces. Leveraging innovative technology to enrich learning is the next logical step in the wake of many pioneering educators’ inventions, including the blackboard and whiteboard.


The writing surfaces of yesteryear still have their place in many settings. Schools can mount an interactive display over a traditional whiteboard to provide a rounded classroom experience. Combining these surfaces appeals to more learners and gives teachers additional freedom to create learning experiences for their students.


Make Your Smart Board the Center of the Classroom With AVMountsUSA

Education has evolved significantly, but one thing remains constant — written text on boards is essential to the learning experience. Finding an interactive and engaging solution like the smart board has taken decades of trial and error. Smart boards can revolutionize education, communicating fundamentals to students in ways they can understand and retain beyond the classroom.


Using this technology is a must for many teachers, and mounting an interactive display is essential to implement it effectively. When you use a tool like a smart board, you need to know it’s safe and convenient, which starts with mounting. At AVMountsUSA, we understand the challenges in education. Our purpose-built over-the-board display mount saves you time on installation, helps you stick to your budget and prevents damage to the whiteboard underneath.

Keep your existing classroom features and embrace technology simultaneously with AVMountsUSA. Contact us today to learn how we can help you transform your classrooms with our customizable solutions.


Make Your Smart Board the Center of the Classroom With AVMountsUSA

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