For decades, people have needed a tool that allows them to show visual data (including written words, diagrams and pictures) to large numbers of individuals at once. At first, the solution to this problem was the chalkboard. Today, the solution is the whiteboard. These two tools have many similarities, but also have significant differences in their appearance and use.
Chalkboards are large, flat slabs of slate. Since slate usually was black in color, chalkboards were known familiarly as "blackboards." Chalkboards also can be green or, less commonly, brown.
Whiteboards, the contemporary descendant of chalkboards, also have large, flat surfaces for communicating information. Unlike chalkboards, however, whiteboards come in only one color (white). They're made from porcelain steel rather than from slate.
The tools used with chalkboards and whiteboards differ. Users write on chalkboards with chalk (calcium carbonate), a form of limestone. To write on whiteboards, they use dry-erase markers. Both surfaces require hand-held erasers, usually felt. However, marker residue sometimes builds up on whiteboards over time, so users also wipe them down with surface cleansers as needed.
Using chalk results in chalk dust. Therefore, people with respiratory issues such as asthma often have problems using chalkboards or being in rooms that have one. A product called dustless chalk results in heavier dust particles that are less likely to be inhaled, but these don't entirely solve the problem. Whiteboards provided part of the solution to the concerns raised by chalk use. The markers used with whiteboards release no particles into the air. However, users must be careful that the chemical agents in the markers are non-toxic.
Places of Use
The most common place where whiteboards and chalkboards are used is in the classroom. As whiteboards have become more popular due to cost efficiency, they've also made their way into places like business offices, courtrooms and even church lobbies.
Related New Products
Just as whiteboards replaced chalkboards, other products now are replacing whiteboards. One such product, also known as a whiteboard, is an interactive touch screen that works with a computer. Users can transfer material from the whiteboard to the computer. This makes interactive whiteboards especially helpful for teachers, who may want to save their notes written during the classroom lecture for later reference or reuse. This function, called screen capture, also allows teachers and other individuals to make viewable files that can be emailed, printed, faxed or posted to a website.
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