Why Do Many Prestigious Universities Use Chalkboards Instead Of Whiteboards?

Gizmo j

Senior member
Nov 9, 2013
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Since beginning elementary I have always had whiteboards in my classes but when i watch university lectures on YouTube from places like MIT and Yale most of the time i see professors using chalkboards...

Aren't Whiteboards easier to write on and also easier to clean?
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
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Chalk dust is bad for computers, and computers are bad for the brain. It's to discourage use of computers and to make people listen more in class.

Seriously though, I always found chalk boards were fairly standard, except in any room that has computers they would use white boards. The dust is actually the reasoning I remember hearing.
 

SamQuint

Golden Member
Dec 6, 2010
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Expense. All those major universities have been around for nearly 100 years. Imagine how many classrooms each has. Most of those chalkboards are built into the walls. So you would have to spend a ton of money to remodel all those walls to hang whiteboards. Plus chalk is dirt cheap as well. Now the better option is to connect your computer to a projector. Use a whiteboarding program and project that on the screen. MS Whiteboard would allow you to join your tablet to a shared whiteboarding session and the professor could use their tablet to whiteboard instead.
 
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Red Squirrel

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We always had chalkboards, but I'm old. Chalkboards are more aesthetically pleasing, and you can't hide a piece of dry erase marker in the eraser, like you can with chalk ;^)
LOL I remember doing that too... the erasers had "layers" so you could shove it in it and erase but still make a line.

The math teachers always had the coolest chalk board instruments too for making circles and stuff, oh and music teachers. Like those chalk holders to make the 4 lines for drawing notes. I think I'm aging myself. All that stuff is probably all in power point now days. :p
 
Nov 8, 2012
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/shrug

Everything when I was in school wasn't on chalkboards or white boards either really. Everything was either presented via presentations, or one of those overhead projector thingys from what I recall.

Though maybe a whiteboard in the smaller more specialized classes now that I think of it. Wasn't really used much though.
 

Zorba

Lifer
Oct 22, 1999
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My University switches over as they renovate class rooms, which isn't very often.

Lots of professors used Elmo's to a projector even in the early 2000s, or just power points.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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Because the instructors are masters at flinging chaulk pieces at inattentive students. Always hit them in the head too.
 

repoman0

Diamond Member
Jun 17, 2010
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Because white boards are garbage and stain eventually, and are harder to erase. Mine at work is toast after a year of covid, has some nonsense from a year ago on it permanently. Chalk is the way to go even though imagining the sound it makes sends shivers up my spine
 
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Dec 10, 2005
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Because white boards are garbage and stain eventually, and are harder to erase. Mine at work is toast after a year of covid, has some nonsense from a year ago on it permanently. Chalk is the way to go even though imagining the sound it makes sends shivers up my spine
Or some jackass comes along and uses a permanent marker on the whiteboard, making it a pain for the next person to use.

During grad school, when I TA'd, I liked white boards because I didn't have to breathe in chalk dust. But I hated white boards because you basically had to supply your own markers and hope someone didn't use a sharpie on the board.
 
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uclaLabrat

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Aug 2, 2007
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Or some jackass comes along and uses a permanent marker on the whiteboard, making it a pain for the next person to use.

During grad school, when I TA'd, I liked white boards because I didn't have to breathe in chalk dust. But I hated white boards because you basically had to supply your own markers and hope someone didn't use a sharpie on the board.
You're a chemist, I know your ass dragged a TLC vial's worth of acetone or ethyl acetate to one of those boards to erase the offending sharpie marks 😂
 
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pmv

Lifer
May 30, 2008
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Expense. All those major universities have been around for nearly 100 years. Imagine how many classrooms each has. Most of those chalkboards are built into the walls. So you would have to spend a ton of money to remodel all those walls to hang whiteboards. Plus chalk is dirt cheap as well. Now the better option is to connect your computer to a projector. Use a whiteboarding program and project that on the screen. MS Whiteboard would allow you to join your tablet to a shared whiteboarding session and the professor could use their tablet to whiteboard instead.
Don't know that it's "expense" so much as just conservatism/conservation. "Old" is prestigious.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
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Since beginning elementary I have always had whiteboards in my classes but when i watch university lectures on YouTube from places like MIT and Yale most of the time i see professors using chalkboards...

Aren't Whiteboards easier to write on and also easier to clean?
Honestly, it's the faculty's choice. We've had some dry erase boards replaced inclassrooms because some faculty members made a chalk board contingent on their hiring. I have my own suspicions as to why.

Or some jackass comes along and uses a permanent marker on the whiteboard, making it a pain for the next person to use.
Protip, if you scribble a dry erase marker over the permanent one, it'll erase off. Still a dick move to even have permanent markers in the room.
 
Dec 10, 2005
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You're a chemist, I know your ass dragged a TLC vial's worth of acetone or ethyl acetate to one of those boards to erase the offending sharpie marks 😂
Having worked in a protein lab, we had no acetone. And it had crossed my mind to carry some ethanol, but I didn't really feel like it, since the classrooms were all over the campus.
 

zinfamous

No Lifer
Jul 12, 2006
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Because white boards are garbage and stain eventually, and are harder to erase. Mine at work is toast after a year of covid, has some nonsense from a year ago on it permanently. Chalk is the way to go even though imagining the sound it makes sends shivers up my spine
I think nearly every white board ever installed anywhere in the world has about 1 month of use life before some asshole ruins it with a permanent marker.
 
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BurnItDwn

Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
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Another reason .. they don't want to spend half the class trying out the different markers to see which ones still work.
 
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uclaLabrat

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2007
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Having worked in a protein lab, we had no acetone. And it had crossed my mind to carry some ethanol, but I didn't really feel like it, since the classrooms were all over the campus.
What? Even the lab at work has acetone a we're nothing but proteins/biologics.
 

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