Interactive whiteboards can be invaluable as a resource shared between teachers for whole class lessons. Sadly, they're very expensive. Or they were until the Mimio arrived. Chris Drage reports.
There is currently much interest in schools in presentation technology - ie interactive whiteboards. This will only grow as increasing numbers of networks are installed in our schools. Interactive whiteboards are excellent and support front-of-class teaching. Yet they are very expensive.
Enter the Mimio. Attach the Mimio bar on to a standard classroom whiteboard, connect it to your laptop or PC and projector, run the software, calibrate it and voila! you have an interactive whiteboard! OK, there are functions which Mimio can't perform, but for most classroom activities, this is as good as actually having an interactive whiteboard. The good news is that it only costs pound;350.
The package comprises a Mimio capture bar, four electronic styli, four dry-wipe markers, an electronic eraser and holder, Mimio software CD with MimioMouse, calculator control panel, batteries, serial cable and two bar mounting brackets. Having used it, I would add the optional WritingRecognition software and the USB connector kit to the shopping list. Being able to not only capture your whiteboard notes but also turn them into text is a boon. Similarly, the USB connection with its longer cable makes the whole thing more convenient to use.
Mimio is very portable. Just fasten its two sucker pads to the standard whiteboard or use the permanent fixtures provided, connect the single cable to the PC's serial (or USB) port and its other connector to the keyboard socket, run the Mimio software and the system is ready to use.
The Mimio works by using ultrasound to identify the stylus position on the board, just like a mouse and the pointer on a computer screen. The stylus can alo hold a dry-wipe pen, thus you can write on the whiteboard and see the strokes appear electronically as well.
The Mimio will work on any board up to 8ft x 4ft with ease. The board sizes can be selected within the software to make sure you record the information in its best format. Once you have captured the notes you can distribute them easily: save them on your network, print, email or put them on the Internet.
By swapping one of the marker pens with a dummy blank, you now have a fully functional board mouse. Just a simple projection calibration exercise puts you in control of any Windows-based application from the front of the class. You can now access PowerPoint presentations, use websites or show interactive CD-Roms, or demonstrate software. Tools like the projected keyboard and on-board control panelcalculator make data input easy with the MimioMouse.
The Mimio attaches to any standard PC-based system (Win 3.11, 95, 98, 2000, NT or Mac) whether it be a laptop or desktop unit. Using the mouse ports, both serial and PS2, the Mimio needs no external power supply thus it requires no complicated cabling. The Mimio can actually be used without a projector so you can use it with your existing PC. Indeed, it works perfectly with the cheapest of cheap data projectors and also the Cruiser laptopToaster combination.
I highly recommend the Mimio. Coupled with a laptop and projector, it offers interactive ICT at a price schools can afford.
ONLINE STAR RATING
Suitability for purpose: ****
Ease of use: ****
Value for money ****
Mimio from Accurate Price: pound;350 Tel: 0113 2386617.
TES readers purchasing a Mimio qualify for a free carrying case worth pound;40 until the end of June.Tel: 0870 458 3344 or www.europe.mimio.comtes