Following up on the use of interactive whiteboards in British schools, a study of schools using the technology suggests that they do little to boost student learning.
Interactive white boards can even “slow the pace of whole class learning”, the study commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills suggested.
They can also lead to “relatively mundane activities being over-valued”, the Institute of Education study found.
The researchers found many possible reasons for the lack of an increase of student achievement in classes using the boards, including “mundane activities being over-valued” by teachers.
But it’s the Schools Minister Jim Knight who has the best perspective on all this.
“I believe passionately that ICT can be a excellent tool in helping teaching and learning. But ICT will never be a substitute for a good teaching.
“Only when teachers have the skills to use it properly can we expect them to use the technology to support and transform traditional teaching methods,” he added.
Transform traditional teaching methods? That’s not going to happen without a serious professional development plan for using technology in the classroom.
Something that never seems to be included in the budget along side the purchase of hardware like the interactive whiteboards.
(I still can’t believe they paid Â£3000 (about $6000US) for each of the boards.)
I have a SmartBoard in my classroom. I do see the disadvantages of having one, like today when my computer froze up in the middle of a lesson and I had to restart the machine to get my IWB working again.
But I mostly see advantages. Students are more engaged when we “fly” somewhere in Google Earth, or they use virtual protractors online to measure angles instead of using ones at their desks.
I have my students talk into a wireless microphone to record vocabulary for the next class, and I have never had less than 10 volunteers wanting to read each word.
Also, the IWB makes it incredibly easy for me to save my (and student) notes/examples and put them up on a website or on a cd for students who were absent or want to review what we did that day.
It also helps that I am comfortable using the technology and I have 16 laptops in my classroom for student use. I’ve seen the IWBs used just like a regular board, nothing interactive. Like you stated above, the development for the teachers is the key to using the IWBs to their potential.
As Technology Specialist in a high school with 140+ Smartboards I counsel teachers to ALWAYS have a backup paper and pencil lesson plan at their fingertips. At some point there is going to be a computer malfunction, network problem, or power outage.
Whoever doesn’t backup…cracks up!!
Rob Mullins, Technolofy Specialist
Fairfax High School, Fairfax VA