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What is a Whiteboard?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated: May 16, 2024

The term whiteboard names several different devices used for communication in offices and classrooms. The original whiteboard was literally a white-colored dry-erase board. It took its name by analogy to the chalkboards called blackboards. Like them, the whiteboard is a device on which one can write and erase, so it is useful for many of the same situations as a chalkboard or flip chart, creating a space that multiple people can see and refer to or interact in.

The erasable markers made for the original type of whiteboard include bolder colors than one finds in chalk, and can, of course, be used without creating chalk dust. An issue that arises for some people with dry erase markers is the odor, and one must be careful not to use markers that are not specifically made for the surface because they do not erase easily. This type of whiteboard comes in a variety of sizes.

Another kind of whiteboard is an interactive touch-screen for computers that allows you to operate a computer by touching the board. Some such whiteboards allow for interactive screen capture, which means that by a simple operation, you can copy material created on the whiteboard to the computer. Other capabilities of a computer-enabled whiteboard include interactive annotation of projected computer image and interactive annotation to fill in a projected template, both of which can then be saved via screen capture.

A third type of whiteboard is an on-line interactive space available for the input of text, drawing, and so on. People in different locations can all sign-on to the same whiteboard space and create a mutual composition, plan, project, or drawing that is visible to all users in real-time.

A whiteboard of any type can be used:

  • to demonstrate or display previously prepared information for viewing by multiple individuals;

  • as a surface on which to project non-interactive media such as slides, movies, power point presentations, or a real-time view of a computer screen in order to entertain, educate, or inform; and

  • to capture the simultaneous or sequential contributions of multiple participants in a forum, whether recorded by the participants themselves or by a designated scribe.
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for EasyTechJunkie, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By Misscoco — On Jun 10, 2011

Has anyone used one of those online interactive whiteboards? Do you need other equipment besides the special whiteboard that allows you to create a visual that the person on the other end can see and interact with?

I would like to get into one-on-one tutoring online.It seems like this method of tutoring would work well. There would be no need for transportation to a tutoring center or a home.

Thanks for any suggestions.

By Sara007 — On Jun 10, 2011

If you need a large whiteboard and don't want to pay a lot you can easily make your own. You can buy either buy melamine or Plexiglas at a home improvement store in the size you want the whiteboard to be.

After that, you can either mount it directly to the wall or to a white board backing. You can then fasten it in place with either glue or nails.

Most of the supplies can be bought inexpensively, and it should run you more than $30 for a classroom sized whiteboard.

If you want to add a border just pick up some trim at your home improvement store and add it around the edges.

By MissMuffet — On Jun 10, 2011

As a teacher I really love the large whiteboards made for classrooms. The only drawback in my experience was the writing material.

I once spent hours trying to scrub mine clean after a student wrote on it with a permanent whiteboard marker pen! I was saved from this chore by a wonderful colleage who shared a secret with me.

So, if you ever find yourself in this position don't worry. Just take an erasable marker and trace carefully over the writing. This seems to dissolve it somehow and it will be quite easy to wipe away.

By angelBraids — On Jun 10, 2011

@Bakersdozen - What you need to buy is a magnetic whiteboard. I have one and find it really handy, and I jazz it up by using magnets people have brought back for me from their vacations.

Before I had this type I just used sticky notes on my desk. Half the time they peeled off and were lost, which made the whole thing a waste of time.

By Bakersdozen — On Jun 10, 2011

@anon123660 - I love that you can pick up cheap whiteboards in discount stores for home use. I would be lost without mine, for sure. I use it to remind people in the family about appointments, note down shopping items and just to leave general messages for people.

You do have to make sure that it's in a convenient place, or nobody will even look at it. The only disadvantage is that you can't pin notes and receipts to it, which was something I found useful with the old corkboard system we had before.

By letshearit — On Jun 10, 2011

If you are studying a language a small whiteboard is a great investment for practicing new words and learning characters. You can buy whiteboards in almost any size, and the one I have is about the size of a sheet of A4 paper. I have find tip board markers that I use to write with.

I find that repetition, especially when learning something like Japanese characters is key to picking up the language. Being able to rewrite characters without wasting paper is excellent. If you are worried about writing straight, there are some whiteboards that come ruled. You can sometimes get small whiteboards cheaply at dollar stores.

By anon123660 — On Nov 03, 2010

The whiteboard is very good. I am using it at school and college. also you can use it at home.

By anon70738 — On Mar 16, 2010

what is the product that can be used for laminating plywood?

By anon49234 — On Oct 19, 2009

whiteboard is very useful, not only for the office, but for use in schools and homes, too.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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