The Science Behind the Surface: Part 4
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different writing surfaces in the classroom can create a more productive learning environment for your students.
Today, more individuals have access to some form of classroom education than ever before. This means there are now more students and teachers filtering in and out of educational institutions who deserve whiteboard surfaces that provide clear contrast, low glare and that erase cleanly. Why does quality matter when it comes to dry erase surfaces? That’s because whiteboards that underperform can create challenges for both student and educator. So, what issues can arise when a low-quality whiteboard is installed, or an inappropriate writing surface like glass is used in education?
Dirty, stained whiteboards can be a major distraction in the classroom. The surface appears old and absorbs marker ink, leaving behind the ghosts of past math problems that simply won’t erase. Low quality whiteboards like melamine, laminates, and painted steel also sustain dents and scratch easily, decreasing their usable surface area and lifespan. These issues can distract students, drawing attention away from lessons while creating obstacles for instructors to work around during lessons. CeramicSteel provides a clean, flat surface free of stains and imperfections keeps students focused on the material, not the mess.
Most classes require students to take notes from the whiteboard and absorb the information presented. Concentrated focus on any surface should be comfortable with minimal strain in the classroom. Glassboards have two surfaces that reflect light. The distance between these two panes of glass creates a drop shadow effect which gives writing a blurred appearance. And, because glass is transparent, marker ink is less opaque and is harder to see on glassboards. When these issues are combined with glare from overhead lights and projectors, students can experience eye discomfort and headaches from straining to read what is written on the board. Wall-mounted whiteboards with a smooth, opaque finish like CeramicSteel create a crisp, clear contrast between dry erase markers and the surface.
With whiteboard materials like melamine, the bumpy “orange peel” texture discussed in past installations of this series can make it challenging for a projector to work well. This becomes an issue with glass, as well. Glare and distortion can make it impossible to use a projector properly with these surfaces. Uneven surfaces bend and distort projected images and text, while “hotspots,” or pockets of light reflected directly from the projector’s light source, can cover everything you are trying to project and make it difficult to incorporate visuals into your lectures (case in point, eye strain). These challenges caused by glare and uneven surfaces can be solved with a lower gloss whiteboard projection surface like CeramicSteel that reflects less light than standard whiteboards and glassboards.
When choosing the right surface for your classrooms, it’s important to consider the primary use of the surface. If whiteboards are planned for high-volume classrooms or spaces that will use projectors frequently, durability, low glare and technology compatibility are essential to creating the best experience for both students and teachers. Bill Livengood, Director of Surface Sales for North America shared a hands-on demonstration of these qualities at EDspaces 2019 – watch the video below to see the difference for yourself!