The small slate chalk board was once a mainstay of American education with piles of them in each classroom, and is the way many kids learned how to form their letters and numbers as well as mindlessly doodle during grammar lessons. The desk chalkboard goes digital with Improv Electronics’s Boogie Board, a monochrome LCD touch screen slate that is good for everything from practicing writing and drawing to leaving messages.
At its essence, the Boogie Board is a writing tablet that is simple, inexpensive and built to last. In fact, I think that all school technology should be like this.
At 4-ounces, the Boogie Board is rugged and just flexible enough to stand up to daily classroom abuse. The model I looked at has an 8.5-inch screen and was less than a quarter of an inch thick. It comes with a cleaning cloth and a soft fabric bag.
Boogie Board is available in 7 colors and schools can have their name and logo printed on the board. There’s a minimum order of 100 boards for a custom board.
There are also ones with 10.5-inch screens as well as a cool board that has cutouts for snapping into a loose leaf ring binder. There’s even a Boogie Board that attaches to a wall or refrigerator to use as a message board.
It comes with a stylus to write on the surface, although a sharp fingernail works just as well. To keep from losing the stylus, there’s a snap on pen holder as well as a pocket in the board’s fabric case.
When you’re done or the surface is filled up, just press the erase button, the screen blinks and is wiped clean. It’s now ready for a new use. Over three weeks of daily use, it looked brand new after each erasure with no afterimage.
It works horizontally or vertically for a variety of uses from first-graders practicing their letters to high-schoolers trying out chemical formulas. All you have to do is think about it and more uses, like leaving messages for teachers, modeling plays for the basketball team or just jotting down homework assignments, will come to you.
Because its Reflex screen is pressure sensitive, you can write thick or thin lines. Unfortunately, its light green on black background is the only show in town and the only way to lock the image in place on the version I looked at is to slide the stylus holder over the erase button.
The image doesn’t fade over time and the board only uses power when it is being erased, so its 3-volt battery should last for years and years. It’s a good thing, because it can’t be replaced. The company estimates that it will last for 50,000 erase cycles or something like 25 years of ten erasures per school day.
The downside is that it can’t hold more than one page of material and there’s no way to transfer it to a projector or computer except with a document camera. I also doesn’t have a backlight so that the board is just about worthless in the dark, but I can think of no better way for kids to write and draw without using any paper. At $40 for black or $42 for the brightly colored slates, the Boogie Board is a bargain.
Boogie Board 8.5
$40 for Black/$42 for Pink, Green, Cyan, White, Silver or Gold
+ Simple and straightforward
+ Saves paper
+ Battery never needs to be replaced
- Can’t transfer image to a computer or projector
- Not good in darkened room