30 times more information
When you ask a question, instead of getting a response from 1 student, getting a response from 30 students is so much more informative. As a teacher you are gaining 30 times more information in the same amount of time. Plus you are actively engaging 30 times as many students.
By getting All students to formulate answers on a whiteboard before they start work in their exercise books, their initially fragile understanding that they've just gained is consolidated so they will be better prepared to have a go on their own without delay.
more willing to have a go
Students are much more willing to have a go at something new on a whiteboard (rather than in their neat exercise book), knowing they can rub things out and adjust things quickly.
You don't really lose anything, but you gain some extra significant benefits:
Actually, you do lose something. You are looking at a computer screen rather than at student faces. However, this should be a small part of the lesson, and whilst less personal in an eye-contact fashion, it is more personal in terms of private communication, more efficient for communication flow and allows easier communication with students who might be more difficult to engage with traditional boards.
instant private feedback is a game changer
Enabling weaker students to privately have a go and get instant private feedback is a game changer. Students who previously would either avoid contributing at all, or have nightmares and be terrified of getting something wrong publicly in class suddenly feel liberated, being able to start having a go without all those fears.
As a teacher you can further boost the confidence of weaker students by privately ticking their answer before asking them to share and explain their answer publicly.
With vMiniWB.com, by holding down 't' on the keyboard, you can tap (or click) 2 or 3 mini whiteboard screens per second to 'tick' their answers. Giving feedback on a simple question can be done with individual responses for a whole class in less than 30 seconds. You don't have to do this every time, but when you do, the individual feeling of success and inclusion for each student is massively boosted.
blown away with the positive responses
Visually, as a teacher you may not 'see' much of the benefit of using virtual mini whiteboards in the first instance. The individual differences they make to students are very private and not overtly immediately obvious. If after 3 or 4 uses of vMiniWB with a class you haven't felt the benefits and are having second thoughts, give your students an opportunity to feedback what they think: Give them a short questionnaire (paper or electronic, anonymous or not). Ask them if it boosts their confidence, if it makes them more engaged, if they feel like they're getting more individual feedback, if they like having a go with low risk, if they like it being private, if they feel like they learn more effectively. The first time I did this, I was blown away with the positive responses. Without doing something like this, or using vMiniWB over the long-term, you may completely miss realising a significant power of this teaching tool. You could even use the power of vMiniWB to get this feedback. Draw a circle with two eyes and a nose. Ask students to add a mouth (smiley or otherwise) to feedback their opinion.
Set yourself a target, perhaps in collaboration with other colleagues as well, to use and evaluate vMiniWB.com in a deliberate and formal manner.
You can manage with less, for example if the teacher doesn't have a touch sensitive screen then a desk-top setup with mouse and keyboard still works really well, particularly if this means you have a larger screen (than a typical laptop). However, a touch-sensitive screen enables you to give individual student feedback particularly quickly. Without a touch-sensitive screen, you might just be a little slower and perhaps restrict feedback to simple ticks and crosses. To be honest, just like traditional boards, students should be doing most or all of the writing anyway and in any case, you still gain the privacy benefit when students write, even if you write nothing back.