I’m sure lots of interesting stuff came through the data stream while I was gone but catching up with all, or even most, of it is not worth the effort.
However, one item that several friends and colleagues brought to my attention is a short article from the Post on one of my favorite topics, interactive whiteboards.
Even in these rotten economic times, schools in our area are spending lots of money on these devices, despite little or no evidence they do anything to improve education.
Increasingly, though, another view is emerging: that the money schools spend on instructional gizmos isn’t necessarily making things better, just different. Many academics question industry-backed studies linking improved test scores to their products. And some go further. They argue that the most ubiquitous device-of-the-future, the whiteboard — essentially a giant interactive computer screen that is usurping blackboards in classrooms across America — locks teachers into a 19th-century lecture style of instruction counter to the more collaborative small-group models that many reformers favor.
“There is hardly any research that will show clearly that any of these machines will improve academic achievement,” said Larry Cuban, education professor emeritus at Stanford University. “But the value of novelty, that’s highly prized in American society, period. And one way schools can say they are ‘innovative’ is to pick up the latest device.”
Innovative? Â I’m still waiting to see an IWB being used for anything other than traditional teacher-directed instruction.
And for some research (other than the highly suspect Marzano study, paid for by Promethean) showing any significant, long-term effect on student learning, something commensurate with the high costs.
Update: As an added bonus, Sylvia shows you how to save most of the $6500 cost for the next big thing, the touch table, by using some of the original interactive classroom tools: finger paints and blocks.