Regular Whiteboards are Better than Virtual Whiteboards

And here’s the empirical evidence that suggests why.

“Specialists observed classrooms to see if teachers were implementing the interactive whiteboards with fidelity. Now, many of those interactive whiteboards are being torn out and classrooms are re-installing physical whiteboards because dry erase markers are fast, efficient, and flexible.” -Innovative teacher and author, John Spencer

Good old fashioned whiteboards are making a comeback. Teachers and Education Specialists find that the value and potential that a simple whiteboard can have in a classroom exudes that of any virtual whiteboard. Sure, virtual whiteboards can display learning materials like diagrams easily and allow for interactive drawing and writing with calibrated styluses. But so can a projector and whiteboard, for less than half the price, much faster, and without sacrificing a student’s learning. And on top of that, there are so many ways to turn your regular old whiteboard into a “virtual whiteboard,” without spending your whole budget. You can use beacons or screencasting devices that work with any phone, tablet or laptop. We’ll explain more below! But first, here are the specifics you need to know about before making this big decision. 


Virtual Whiteboards Hinder Critical Thinking

It’s proven that high resolution images hold one’s attention span significantly longer than a low-resolution image. The touch resolution on a SMART board is a reported 4000 x 4000, which is 16 megapixels. The human eye can see up to 576 megapixels.  That’s a resolution compression of 36 times. We’ve degraded this picture resolution by 36 times so you can understand the difference. 

Photo resolution degraded by 36 times which is equivalent to the resolution degradation of the human eye to the low-resolution 16MP SMART board.

Human Eye:

SMART Board:

The Poor Image Resolution Affects One’s Ability to Engage With and Memorize Information Presented

Additionally, there are numerous studies including these (1, 2,) that prove handwriting forces the brain to slow down and think about the meaning of the words being written which then improves comprehension and memory retention. The key here is that handwriting, or in this case, writing on a dry erase board involves more senses and motor neurons, than writing on a virtual whiteboard. The physical mechanics, not to mention smells, sounds, textures and sights are memory influencers you won’t get with a virtual whiteboard. Feeling the irregularity of the ink coming off on the writing surface is a stimulant and point of focus that helps  “chunk” information into long-term memory.

Innovative teacher and author, John Spencer tends to agree. 

Not to Mention Stylus Pen Lag

The lag between the pen touch down and a mark actually showing up on the screen is what can be considered an obstacle to creative “flow” described as “the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task,” by Scientific Director at the Imagination Institute Scott Barry Kaufman. Flow is extremely important to creativity. In the flow state, one feels high levels of self-esteem and lower anxiety. The distracting lag between pen touch down and the virtual mark appearing hinders the ability to be creative and find “flow.” More importantly, it steals attention away from the meaning of what’s being written. 

Legibility Practice Goes Out the Window

Many virtual whiteboards commonly purchased at schools, including the SMART board, have a built in feature that actually smooths out the student’s writing automatically improving their legibility. The SMART board’s feature is called SMART Ink™ which sounds like a benefit, but for elementary school students learning to read and write, it could actually hinder their legibility progress and only lead to frustration. 

Other Reasons Why Virtual Whiteboards May Not Be Worth the Purchase


A virtual whiteboard like the SMART board is more than 10 times the price of a regular whiteboard.


Virtual Whiteboard Regular Whiteboard
Price $3,599.00  $302.56 15% off
Size 4.25’ Tall 5’ Tall


It takes at least 60 seconds to boot up a computer and connect to the SMART board. Calibration can take another 1-3 minutes. Taking the cap off of a marker takes less than 3 seconds.


Virtual Whiteboards contain software and hardware that require periodic updating and eventually need replacing. Good luck with Tech Support! Our physical porcelain steel whiteboards are made in the USA and can last for decades depending on use. Many of our products even have a 50 year warranty and are guaranteed to endure at least 20,000 wipes.

Instructor’s Learning Curve

Most of the grade school teachers in the U.S. did not grow up with Pocket PCs. Regardless of the numerous articles out there to help teachers and instructors learn the way of the SMART board, many still require substantial training. Additionally, most interactive whiteboards will not get used to their full potential in a grade school setting. Thus, todays Gen-X teachers will experience a learning curve that will inhibit the full integration of the interactive whiteboard with lessons.


Magnetic Receptivity

Virtual Whiteboard Displays for Classrooms, such as the SMART board, are not magnetic. We couldn’t find any other Virtual Classroom Displays that have a magnetic receptive surface. This means the user can’t post anything on paper, like school events or due dates, unless you use tape, which can leave residue.


We are not ignoring the collaborative capabilities of a virtual whiteboard, such as a SMART Board. It might be just the tool you’re looking for. What we can say is, everything you can do with an interactive touch screen board you can also do with a simple projector and low-gloss whiteboard, while saving upwards of $3,000 per set-up. You can even save your notes with an app called Cam Scanner. Visit our blog here to get the tea on setting up your projector and whiteboard with simple and easy instructions and resources to help boost your productivity.

Or you can try other resources that aid in casting your mobile devices to any projector.