Whiteboards & Writing Surfaces


Standard Type

All writing board installations in spaces with AV and IT technology must be dust free. Whiteboards and writing surfaces using dry erase pens are suitable, however the dust from chalkboards is not compatible with electronic technology and may also have negative OH&S impacts. For these reasons chalkboards/blackboards are not recommended by the AETM and should be phased out.

While a range of surfaces, including glass are now becoming popular, the standard surface should be vitreous enamel on steel, unless otherwise specified.

Multiple sliding boards

Where multiple sliding board systems are used, they should be constructed so that the bottom edge of the rear board is at a height of 1.0m, with the full area of all boards capable of being displayed above. Multiple sliding board systems should consist of no more than three boards.

Fixing Height

The bottom edge of the writing area should not exceed 900mm, or be lower than 850mm from the finished floor level.

Storage for Writing Materials and Erasers

Temporary storage for board writing materials and erasers must be provided. This must be a shelf along the bottom edge of a fixed board or along the bottom edge of the outer board in multiple board systems or a small shelf or box to one side of the board system or lectern where a bottom-edge shelf is not appropriate. Care must be taken to avoid sharp edges or corners on the shelf system.

Any shelf attached to the bottom edge of boards must not obstruct the user when writing on the board at the lowest possible level.

Board Lighting and Reflections

(see also Lighting Design - Board Lights)

Board lighting must be designed so that boards are clearly legible at all audience angles of view. Board lighting should be on a separately controlled circuit. Where possible, board lighting must not spill onto the projection area in a way which will degrade the minimum available contrast ratio (see Lighting Design - Ratio of Projected Versus Ambient Lux)

Board lighting shall provide 300 lux on the vertical plane of the board surface without creating glare for the viewers and without creating reflections that could obscure the ability of the audience to read the written content. Room lighting and window curtains must also be arranged so that light reflected from the surface of the boards does obscure the audience’s view of the written content.

Digital Whiteboard Solutions

Interactive display technology has become a common feature of the teaching environment, allowing end users to digitise hand-writing through the use of a flat panel display or interactive projection system, as well as annotation of content. The benefit of digitising whiteboard content is that it can be easily saved for distribution to the audience, recorded, streamed and/or shared in a video conference.

As technology managers, it is important to ensure that where interactive whiteboard functionality is required, it is provided in the most frictionless way feasible, and the workflow of the end user is considered.

Where a very small percentage of users wish to perform digital annotation and whiteboarding, consider if it is possible for the individual(s) to procure a suitable interactive device with which they can become comfortable and use regularly for their sessions.

Technical managers typically have the following options to provide in-venue interactive whiteboard solutions. A variety of specific features exist and continue to evolve within each category to meet each organisation’s requirements and budget, so it is always important to compare the current product offerings and test them against one another.

Interactive Preview/Confidence Monitor:

The simplest and most cost-effective way to provide an in-venue interactive option for whiteboard and annotation is a touch-screen display monitor, typically 18-24” in size, situated at the teaching furniture.

Whilst interactive touch monitors are common and easy to procure, the following should be considered to optimise ease-of-use and utilisation:

  • Provide users a compatible stylus in-venue, attached by ball chain or cord, for annotation.

  • Provide a mounting solution that allows ergonomic use of interactive display, including a flat or slightly angled configuration atop teaching furniture.

  • Ensure all cables have sufficient slack for re-configuration as required.

  • Ensure the solution is accessible for all users.

Interactive Flat Panel Display:

Due to their typically superior image quality, falling cost and simplicity of installation, interactive flat panel displays are a digital whiteboard solution.

The considerations under the previous heading all apply, with the addition of the following for large-format interactive displays:

  • Ensure the installation location is suitable to hold the weight of the display and any accessories.

Interactive Whiteboard:

Utilising a matte whiteboard surface, typically provided as a p




Interactive Projection

  • Cost-effective in terms of $/area

  • Familiar dimensions and experience to traditional whiteboards

  • Casts shadows which can be problematic if primary display surface

  • Projection degrades over time and requires maintenance (re-lamping and/or re-alignment)

  • Requires more time and attention-to-detail in design and commissioning

Interactive Flat Panel Display

  • No maintenance (re-lamping or re-alignment)

  • Use standard display mounts

  • Can be familiar dimensions to regular whiteboards at larger sizes

  • Last longer than projection systems

  • Less adjustable parts

  • Often higher $/area

  • Heavy at larger display sizes, requiring additional wall reinforcement

Functionality Checklist

The following is a list of functionality to consider and ensure is tested when selecting technology for interactive whiteboard solutions:

  • Latency/Responsiveness to touch - the solution should feel responsive and

  • Accuracy - Once calibrated (where applicable), a pen or finger touch should be accurately represented in the digital whiteboard application(s) required.

  • Pen Support - the user should be provided with a pen for ease-of-use as a whiteboard replacement, as using a finger for writing is a poor replacement for a dry-erase whiteboard.

  • Multi-touch - if a requirement, check multi-touch is supported. This will be needed for multi-touch gestures (see below).

  • Hardware Support - Hardware must be natively supported or have easily accessible driver packages.

  • Hardware Connectivity - Ensure hardware connectivity solution is suitable or easily integrated into your system design.

  • Software Compatibility - hardware must be compatible with the software applications required to meet the functional needs of a space and end users. Note that features such as multi-touch features (e.g. dual writing or fist for content erasure) may only be compatible with vendor software - check all required software packages, if required.

Interactive Whiteboard Fixing Height

Digital whiteboard solutions utilising an ultra-short throw projection system are typically a similar image height to standard dry-erase whiteboards. Due to this, a similar approach of ensuring the bottom edge of the writing area should not exceed 900mm, or be lower than 850mm from the finished floor level, is appropriate.

Ultra-short throw projector mounting must follow vendor requirements and be considered in the design stage of any technology fit-out.

Standard whiteboards are not typically suitable for use as interactive projection screens as their shiny surface causes unacceptable glare and hot-spotting. Where whiteboard surfaces are used in special circumstances (for example in interactive whiteboard installations) the projector used should be of the ultra-short throw type so that most glare is reflected away from the audience area.