Purchasing considerations
 

Cost

The cost of an interactive whiteboard varies considerably and generally depends on the type of technology chosen, and on the size of the board. Of the types available, the infra-red attached whiteboard is the least expensive, as it works with standard whiteboards. Schools should note that software is almost always included in the purchase price of the whiteboard, but it is necessary to check if this software allows users to:

  • Draw or write on the board using different coloured pens or even the students’ fingers
  • Print out or save the results to the computer
  • Use “layering”, “grouping” and other features which allow the user to create their own classroom resources, often with the help of an associated gallery

Some suppliers supply specialised software packages to suit either Primary or for Post Primary schools.

Boards range in size from 35 inches (diagonal) to 78 inches (diagonal) and normally cost in the region of €1000 - €3000, including controlling software. Most boards can be fitted to a moveable stand, costing in the region of €300, enabling access in different locations, or can be wall-mounted. Generally the kit to do so is included in the price; however, installation and configuration of the board and projector could add another €500 to the overall price. If the school does not already have a digital projector, this can make the package quite expensive as suitable projector prices begin at around €800, plus €320 for a replacement bulb.

Some suppliers provide integrated, wall-mounted projectors, bringing the total price to as high as €6,000 (including installation). Given the price variations, it is essential to seek best value by obtaining quotations from at least three providers, insist on an itemized list and then you can do a like for like comparison. Note that these indicative prices do not include the price of the computer itself, which can be a laptop or desktop, but a laptop is best as teachers often want to take it home for preparation work.

Infra-red Interactive whiteboards such as the eBeam solution are the least expensive option. Such systems can be purchased for under €1000, with the school providing its own ordinary drywipe board and projector.

Due to the severe shortage of funding for I.C.T. at present, schools will have to carefully consider all available options.