I'm surprised that I'm writing a 3rd posting on interactive whiteboards (or IWBs) as I'm not really such a great fan of them.

I'm surprised that I'm writing a 3rd posting on interactive whiteboards (or IWBs) as I'm not really such a great fan of them.I've already written about the importance of getting the right one for your school and how to approach that and on how they can actually save money and perhaps even be created cheaply by teachers.As I said, I don't have a particular love for the IWB I simply accept them as part of the rapidly changing landscape in which we work these days, and after all, from my experience having one is just better than not having one, so here are my reasons why.Why I'd prefer to have an interactive whiteboardThey give me and my students instant classroom access to:

  • Millions of images within seconds
  • Millions of videos within seconds
  • Millions of audio clips within seconds
  • Billions of texts within seconds
  • The biggest corpra of authentic language ever assembled within seconds (also known as the world wide web)

 The ability to:

  • Contact and bring real people from around the world into my classroom via, text chat, audio or video conferencing and allow my students to interact with them.
  • Record and publish text, audio, video directly from my classroom onto the web within minutes
  • Save, print and share the board work, notes, links, new vocabulary, students comments from every lesson and retrieve them again in any other lesson
  • Share lesson plans and materials with other teachers and access theirs from within the classroom

They save the need to:

  • Carry flashcards, blu tack, envelopes full of cut up paper, videos, photocopies, coursebooks, DVD and CD players, multiple coloured board pens, replacements for the board pens incase they dry up, a TV, a Tape recorder etc.
  • Go back to the staffroom after the lesson and replace flashcards, blu tack, envelopes full of cut up paper, videos, photocopies, coursebooks, DVD and CD players, multiple coloured board pens, replacements for the board pens incase they dry up, a TV, a Tape recorder etc.

Lastly, I can switch it off if I want to, or just write on it if I need to. Having one doesn't mean you have to use it, but if you don't have one, you don't have the choice.Some important questions

  • Will my students learn better because I have one? Well I doubt it, but neither do I think they will learn worse. In the end, how well students learn depends a little on the methods and appraoches I use and a lot on their attitudes and the motivation they bring to the classroom. It might enable me to stimulate that motivation though.
  • Will teachers need training to be able to use IWBs? Of course they will.
  • Will it effect the way I teach and make me a 'chalk and talk' transmition teacher? No. That's never been my way and never will be. Why should I assume that it will be for any other teacher?

I'd like to finish with an anecdote which I hope illustrates the above point.I was working with a group of teachers on an IWB training and evaluation project. I had taken a cross section of teachers from the teaching staff which had a range from technophile to technophobe.One of my technophobe teachers was so stressed out by trying to use the IWB that when she tried to write on it she pressed the pen so hard that you could see it bend and it would make a horrible screeching noise as she wrote. I tried for ages trying to show her the correct preasure to apply by pressing the pen lightly against her hand and getting her to do the same on my hand. Eventually she swore that she would never use the board.A few days later she pulled me into her class telling me how much she was enjoying the marvelous new IWB. She had found a marvelous green background, had all the lights out, was playing ghostly atmospheric music, had two students standing on desks waving branches in front of the projector light whilst the rest created and recited ghost stories and acted them out.What I hope this illustrates, is that we are the teachers we are. These tools won't suddenly change that. Like any other tool we need to look at how we can use them and unlock the potential they have to enhance what we do. We won't be able to do that unless we approach them with curiosity, realistic expectations and above all an open mind.BestNik Peachey | Learning Technology Consultant, Writer, TrainerTeacher Development: http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/News and Tips: http://quickshout.blogspot.com/Student Activities: http://daily-english-activities.blogspot.com/On Twitter: http://twitter.com/NikPeachey   


Hi NikThanks so much for summarising 'my thoughts' :)Seriously, your questions are the ones we should first ask ourselves when thinking of adopting any sort of new technology or innovative approach in education. And I couldn't agree more with your answers!Cheers - Chris 

Hi Nik,Thank you very much for such useful information and comments on IWB. It has become inevitable to upgrade the level of teaching. These modern devices would defnitely ease the burden of the teacher as well as students. There's no doubt that IWB an effective teaching aid.

Hi NikI have seen amazing, inspired and motivated learning with IWBs being used in the classroom with 'basic skills'  adults and teenagers to advanced learners.  I was particularly impressed by a class of adults having only 3 short months' of low level English in Manchester actually teaching each other using a Smartboard.  There were no 'fireworks' or months of preparation on the part of the teacher, just a very thoughtful focus and a lot of evident enjoyment on the part of everyone in the room.  Its use was very simple and straightforward but the energy and interest it brought to the class was really exciting to watch. A focus on independent learning is also a real bonus that needs to be thought out in lesson planning as an IWB can so easily be simply a focal point for the horrible horseshoe, with little student interaction.For me,  the IWB brings the outside inside and the classroom walls cease to exist.For those teachers who are lucky enough to have this resource, it is really worth taking one step at a time until they become proficient.

Hi Nick,I avidly read all your articles and additional comments, and what you have been writing on the topic of Interactive Whiteboards certainly caught my interest since you concisely took out the most significant characteristics and presented them to us! Unfortunately I can neither agree nor disagree with your writing since at my workplace we don't use IW, and from what it looks like, I'm sure we won't be using such boards in the near future... however this does not apply to the private elementary and high schools which might be using them. But I first have to ask, then I'll get back to you with an answer on whether they enjoy using it!I loved your example with the technophobe teacher!Keep up the excellent pieces of writing, and I hope that I'll get to use an IW and to experience the satisfaction of instant classroom access to "millions of images within seconds, millions of videos within seconds, millions of audio clips within seconds, billions of texts within seconds..." as you have explained in your previous text!Take care,Aneta, Macedonia

My department head though she was doing me a favor by choosing my classroom to install one of the few IWBs. I happened to be right outside the room when the crew came so I was able to stop them. My reason? I have a computer and a projector and I run the blog classes so I wasn't gaining I would be losing by having them take my giant board and subbing with a smaller space. There is no way everyone in the class woould be able to see the board from the back and through each other's heads. Why watch one person be active when they all could be.

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