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Interactive whiteboards

Marco Koene

Are interactive whiteboards a good replacement of the old blackboard?  

17 members have voted

  1. 1. Are interactive whiteboards a good replacement of the old blackboard?

    • Yes
    • No

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Guest ChristineS

I haven't voted because I am not quite sure if I know what you mean by interactive whiteboard.

We have a single, very expensive, fully interactive electronic whiteboard at our school which only a very few people use. Even when they do, they tend to use it just as a screen to point the projector (attached to a computer) at. A real waste of money since neither wet nor dry wipe pens can be used on it so it is just a glorified screen.

However, we have several ordinary but very large ordinary whiteboards with projectors pointed at them which are linked to computers. These work brilliantly. The teacher can use them as a traditional board sans dust, or with an image/document through the computer. A teacher or a pupil can use wet wipe pens to write over the image, or add notes to the side of them.

Each teacher also has a single small interactive board which allows him/her to wander around and work everything from anywhere - or allows single pupils to, too, without leaving their desks. It also allows any scribbles added to the screen to be saved as an image and brought up later (unlike the dry wipe pens) if required; something you cannot do with dry wipe pens.

Incredibly useful and versatile! (And it doesn't aggravate this teacher's asthma. ;) ) Also much cheaper than an electronic board.

Sadly we still have a few classrooms with blackboards in them. Surely a plain but good quality whiteboard alone is better than that?

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Most interactive whiteboards are under-utilised and most teachers could do just as well with a laptop, a projector and a white screen or wall. With proper training, however, some teachers can work magic with interactive whiteboards. For further views see:

REvIEW Project: Research and Evaluation of Interactive interactive whiteboards, University of Hull in collaboration with Promethean: http://www.thereviewproject.org

Greenwhich LEA: A useful article entitled "Interactive whiteboards - a luxury too far?": http://www.g2fl.greenwich.gov.uk/temp/whiteboards

This is my last message in this section for a two weeks. BETT 2004 tomorrow, 8 Jan; packing Fri 9 Jan; depart for skiing holiday in Austrian Tyrol Sat 10 Jan; back on Sun 25 Jan.

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Interactive whiteboards are great but it takes a lot to beat a laptop and a projector.

The big downside - carrying books, laptop and projector. Guaranteed to have some physical consequence but for those of who are always moving from room to room an education asset. ;)

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  • 1 month later...

I agree that Interactive whiteboards can be underused and teachers who have them must receive training to help them reach their full potential. I am a new user of an interactive whiteboard and utilise it in my music lessons. I love using it for music software packages such as Cubase and Sibelius as pupils can watch the music as well as listen to it!

I look forward to learning more tools and becoming more confident with using it more and more in my lessons.

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Interactive Whiteboards are a good replacement for chalkboard. That is inevitable as the chalkboards are wearing out and need replacement with a modern product; but there is much to be said for the computer and projector; particularly with science where the projection of datalogging, object viewer or microscope viewing is as important as the possibility of 'writing' on the screen.

I am not keen on the present configuration of IWBs with the shadow and height problems; but expect that the new generations of boards will occupy a whole wall, be less than a centimetre thick, also roll up like a projection screen when not in use and generate the image from a liquid crystal display or something similar that is inbuilt. Then I will start to look forward to using them. :lol:


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I am not keen on the present configuration of IWBs with the shadow and height problems

Yes, true. The main disadvantages that I have noticed are:

1. The teacher may have to face the light source (depending on the location of the projector, of course) and this does not do one's eyes a lot of good. I feel blinded after a long sesson.

2. The user's height can be a problem. I have noticed some teachers (mainly female) struggling to tap icons on a menu bar at the top of the board.

3. Trailing cables - but this can be overcome if the board is fixed permanently and the cables are hidden.

4. The text on a whiteboard screen, which is currently limitied in size, is difficult to read from the back of a long room.

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I think people are becoming to preoccupied with meaningless gadgetry. At my school there has been an interactive whiteboard that was installed about three years ago and as far as I know it's never been used - just as a surface for an LCD projector. So in fact, it's more impeding because you can't write on it - and teachers don't want to have to go on a training course to learn how to draw a diagram or write up some notes for their students. I'm sorry, it's just not practical. Any good teacher will do just as well with the good old fashioned black board (oh sorry, political correctness, I meant to say "chalk board"). Who says you need to have "the latest products"? - just get out there and teach!

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I think people are becoming to preoccupied with meaningless gadgetry.

True! Been there, done that, bought the teeshirt - in the 1960s as a language teacher presented with a shining new language lab. It made no significant difference to our teaching.

There was a debate in another forum to which I subscribe headed "Death by PowerPoint". A lively discussion went on for several days. If you search the Web for the phrase "Death by PowerPoint" via Google, you'll find that it's affecting a growing proportion of the world's population - I found 2110 occurrences this evening.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The REVIEW Project, University of Hull, has recently released a CD-ROM entitled "The Good Guide to Interactive Whiteboards". The materials on the CD-ROM focus on the effective use of interactive whiteboards in the classroom and are based on over 200 observations and interviews with students and teachers.



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Guest Andrew Moore

I don't need a touch-sensitive board - it's just a big mouse (input device). But with a projector and sound amplification, and an Internet connected computer, I have the technology that I need.

This is not "meaningless gadgetry", as Mike suggests. If I do work on a conventional whiteboard (or an old blackboard), then I lose it when I leave the room and wipe the board for the next user. And while I have a fair memory for texts, I cannot, instantly produce, say, the full text of any novel I'm studying (or, were I a science teacher, the complete periodic table).

There is no contradiction between having the ability to teach conventionally - which may well include writing things on a board with drywipe markers (or chalk) - and using relevant technology. For instance, I need, in teaching media as part of GCSE English, to be able to show a short episode of film or advertising, using a VCR or DVD player, with a TV or projector for display.

Publishers, broadcasters, writers, administrators - pretty well anyone who does not practice a skilled trade - all use digital technologies much of the time every day. If teachers insist on using only blackboards and shunning modern communication technologies, then we appear increasingly perverse to those around us. A teacher may hide from it. But that does not mean he or she can deny it to young people for whom use of this stuff greatly improves their life chances.

I'm also one of the generation for whom the language labs made no difference. Some technologies are of limited value. And so are many educational uses of them. As it happens, analogue tape, especially in the compact cassette form, has been a very successful technology - it was the "lab" idea that didn't work (probably because there was no suitable paradigm for learning, and not enough human intervention).

The comment about blackboards, if nothing else, assumes that the teacher can produce copy that any student can see clearly from anywhere in a classroom. Unless the laws of optics and human biology have changed, then this is not going to happen in most schools.

If I use the new technology, then I can place learning objects (text, images, audio files) on a network, for the learners to access later, should they wish. And they won't have to write it all down, complete with errors, from a blackboard they can barely see.

That old paradigm of learning makes the learner depend on the teacher to release information at the same pace for all, and only during the school day. If we confined ourselves to such interactions, then we could not have the discussion that goes on here. If it's good enough for me, then it's good enough for my students.

Mike's school is far from unique in having unused or underused technology. It does not follow that the technology is useless. Rather that the teachers have not yet seen how (or even that) it can make their lives easier and their students' learning better. A trip to the nearest primary school might help. Asserting that "it's not practical" is fine; but it becomes rather more difficult to do when so many teachers and their children (from reception classes onwards) plainly are using this stuff every day. This technology can also be practical in a very immediate way - by taking a lot of drudgery out of the teacher's life, so that we can remind ourselves about the life beyond work.

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Guest Andrew Moore

I'd like to respond to Graham's comment on Powerpoint, having followed the same discussion elsewhere.

People in business often rely on presentation graphics, because they are not, as teachers should be, experienced communicators, who can speak off the cuff. The software can be helpful in showing a simple linear route through a basic description or narrative. Indeed, in some business contexts, it's required so that the poor presenter stays on message.

If educators had a bit more confidence, they would not ape the conservative and hierarchical nonsense of the business conference. For example, why do we, in organizing conferences, put up with the offensive or stupid idea of a "keynote" speech? If a presentation is good, then the audience will know. This description is just forelock-tugging. (One can imagine a conference where all speakers did coordinate their subjects, and one genuinely introduced a common theme to be a key note, as a musical metaphor. But in reality one finds a bunch of loosely-related talks, if one is lucky. And the "key note" label is simply a sop to the supposedly most prestigious speaker.)

It's possible to speak without showing people any images or text. And there may be situations where it is helpful to show them some images or text. But a convention seems to have arisen for organizing any public speaking as a number of slides for a graphic presentation, and supplying the conference delegate with a printed version of the slides. This seems rather stupid, since they are already available in digital form, and can be shared in that way, in the very unlikely event that we want to keep the presentation.

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Oh dear me, a discussion on electronic whiteboards. Have we not been here before - with the abacus, the slide rule, the mechanical calculator - oh and don't forget those "teaching machines" circa 1967 with their rolls of paper, the programmable calculator, nay the PC and even, dare I say the laptop computer!

I will try anything that will be of benefit the learning of the kids in my class. If teachers want to totally ignore the preferred learning styles of the majority of the kids in their classes and stay with chalk and talk they will make themselves unemployable in a very short time from now. Some people just are not going to change because it threatens their power base in the school to do so - its not about technology, its not about pedagogy, its not about time or inset - its about power politics in the school.

I note that at least one other person has heard of Mimio Boards - if you have bought anything else then I'm sorry but you have been conned by the sales rep again! You have to check them out before you throw any more money away.

Yes it's time to move on from PowerPoint, which is just one more example of how we have let ourselves as educators be conned into using a product (along with most of the MS Office suite) that was designed for the business community not for education. Sure, as we teachers are a resourceful bunch we have adapted it - very innovatively in many cases. Instead get your kids to make digital video clips with imovie, movie maker, or any of a dozen cheap programmes - even Real Player files made interactively with Mimio Board software and put these on your school intranet/portal.

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