The above podcast has been sourced from http://blog.teachnet.ie and is an interview with Simon Lewis, a Primary school principal and blogger on www.anseo.net, on the rise and popularity of Interactive Whiteboards in today’s schools.
The inclusion of technology as tools in classrooms has picked up steam over the last decade. One particular tool is the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). Whilst many other technologies have been periphery in the classroom, in many schools the IWB has taken centre stage, becoming the main tool of education.
What is an interactive Whiteboard?
An IWB is an ICT tool utilised in classrooms. It is like the traditional whiteboard, with the key difference being the use of a light pen and being hooked up to a computer. These fundamental differences create a new dimension for interactions between students and the ICT, allowing students to not only write on the board but to interact via games and activities.
How can it enhance the learning experience?
Kent argues that IWBs in of themselves not going to lead to successful learning. They are merely a tool and are not a replacement for good teaching. They are amplifiers of teaching practices and provide an opportunity for teachers to attain the NSW Department of Education’s Quality Teaching Frameworks of Intellectual Quality, Relevance and Creating a Supportive Learning Environment.
Intellectual Quality is promoted by the use of labelling activities, sorting activities, ordering and sequencing, puzzle, game or simulation activities.
Relevance is obtained by giving students the opportunity to create the content of the lesson and to readily engage the students via capturing and sharing the students’ ideas and comments.
It can also create a supportive learning environment via addressing a number of learning styles in a lesson and fostering a classroom that requires group work.
Are IWBs the answer?
Like any other ICT, the IWB is merely a tool. Unlike other ICT, such as mobile phones, lap tops and other mobile devices, the IWB, with its implementation in classrooms across the role can reach a ubiquity that the other technologies cannot.
An IWB creates the opportunity for new interactions between teachers and students and amongst students themselves. It allows greater opportunities for group work, and therefore a greater capacity for problem solving activities, which promote higher order thinking.
That said, an IWB does not provide anything that cannot be done in a low tech classroom. Videos can still be played on a television, songs can be played on a stereo, games can be played on a board and thoughts can be written on a chalkboard. What the IWB does provide however, a focal point and meeting place for these and other activities, forging a sense of continuity and semblance in the learning activities undertaken in the classroom.
And to conclude the most important thing to note, like any tool, the IWB is only as effective as its user. As Kent rightly points out at the outset of his text:
‘The difference between high quality and poor quality teaching with an IWB is not the ICT or the technical competency of the teacher. It is not the brand of IWB being used. It is the quality of the underlying teaching.’
Kent, P (2010) Secondary Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards Melbourne, Macmillan Teacher Resources
This blog contains a number of multimedia, but this section addresses the inclusion of the podcast at the beginning.
Which learning style/s does this ICT support?
This ICT supports an auditory learner.
How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?
By utilising podcasts or similar sound files, students can be encouraged to listen to them and then report back on what they heard, or create a set of notes
How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?
The podcast provides an example for students to develop and produce their own interview on a subject matter they like or are ‘experts’ in. Students could also create ‘radio’ broadcasts, using ideas from the example given.