Interacting with Interactive Boards

The recent Scottish Executive additional funding (£800,00) released to schools in East Lothian has resulted in a spate of purchases of interactive whiteboards.

Ewan MacIntosh put up a link to some research which suggests that interactive whiteboards haven’t made a significant impact upon the teaching and learning process.

In East Lothian we recently invested in interactive boards for all of our secondary maths classrooms. A key factor in the apparent success of our implementation has been the impact that Robert Jones has had by being seconded for one a day a week to work with schools, share good practice and develop the learning and teaching process.

Building upon this lesson we intend to release four teachers next year for one day each week – two primary and two secondary. Their role will be to work with teachers and schools in-situ – we think this strategy will be much better than running one off in-service courses.

As Robert points out “technology itself will not change what happens in classrooms” and his wonderful dig about the “spray and pray approach towards ICT investment” challenges us to take a much more strategic approach towards such developments. Our goal is to create a momentum – or critical mass – where teachers, properly supported, develop confidence in the technology and integrate it into their developing practice.

Last word goes to Robert:

“Using an interactive whiteboard effectively requires the same kind of effort, exploration and reflection that teaching effectively does. And your colleague in the next room who’s found something that works may be more useful to you than all the in-service under the sun.”

18 thoughts on “Interacting with Interactive Boards

  1. I’d be intrigued to see an interacitve whiteboard in action. Perhaps, during study leave, an enthusiast (or even a doubting Thomas) might be kind enough to let me sit in on a class?

  2. The interactive whiteboard gives the teacher the opportunity to change their practice and teaching method to take advantage of the new technology available to them. If all the teacher does is replace their written worksheet with an ‘interactive’ worksheet on screen then the learning environment doesn’t change and no benefit ensues from the IWB. Is it too much of an oversimplification to say that teachers with an interest in ICT matters will embrace the new technology to a greater extent, or can you change the mindset of others to bring them on board. The bottom line is that it’s down to individual willingness to change/adapt their teaching method – that’s when you’ll reap the greatest benefit.

  3. I was wondering when you would write about this topic Don. I read an article in the Spectator dated 3rd February 2007 entitled “Look back in anger: how Tony Blair betrayed a generation of pupils”, and revealing reading it was too! The London Institute of Education shows that these “gadgets” do more to distract than to educate.

    £800,000 of our taxes, yes, we the public are “pounded (£’d) to death” by excessive taxes spent on gadgets to suit some teachers who want to distance themselves from pupils and not interact with them. After all this is what technology ultimately does – it separates. One can clearly understand why some teachers embrace this technology, there is fear in classrooms; a white board is their shield, the less personal interaction the better.

    Then we have the article in The Sunday Telegraph today “Peer exposes the ‘horror’ of Labour special needs policy”. I am so glad to see that Warnock has renounced her ill-fated inclusion policy. Many parents with such children have known all along that no adaption of their child’s school can turn it in to an environment in which their children can effectively learn.

    The greater autonomy schools have from government control and this damaging comprehensive ethos, the better. For a more immediate effect I would have spent £800,000 on reducing class sizes and employing more teachers and assistant teachers. Bring class sizes down and you regain control of behaviour and standards of education, (and care of children with special needs in the short term only).

    Parent with Standards

  4. I’d like to point out the direct link to the post where I mentioned the Becta research:
    http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2007/02/cesi_why_people.html

    as it says more or less what you’ve said here and not, as might be inferred, the opposite. Where interactive whiteboards have failed to deliver is where training wasn’t provided and no or little thought was given to ideas on how teaching might change for the better using this tool. Teachers merely reinforced the ways they had taught in the past.

  5. Parent with Standards – not sure if I agree with you that technology ultimately separates – take this conversation as an example. I see so many teachers who use technology as a tool – not a substitute – to enhance the teaching process to the great benefit of pupils. The challenge for us – as I point out in my post – is to ensure that we provide the appropriate support to enable them to make best use of that tool.

    I would agree with you about the need to spend money on teachers but unfortunately the money we have just received is a ‘one-off’ and can’t be spent on staffing.

    Lastly – what do you mean by the “damaging comprehensive ethos”?

  6. It’s great to hear that the installation of “iwb”s in maths rooms is deemed to have been successful :) I would, of course, put that down primarily to the hard work of our maths teachers. If I have acheived anything it has been to act as a mirror to help teachers see the good work that they themselves are doing, and to help share this good practice around the authority.

    You’re welcome in my classroom any time Alan!

    The comments here are full of great points. I must dash, but I’ll be back later hopefully to continue the conversation.

  7. I had an interactive white board in my p1/2 class last year and yes it did distract the children – that’s surely the whole point! The children were not distanced from their learning they were actively learning (with my direction). Through using the board children learnt independently and within groups taking it in turns discussing collaborating. I could go on. Please come into our schools and see how technology is helping our children learn.
    Its ironic ‘parent with standards’ that you talk of technology ‘separating and creating a distance’ when you are already using it as a means of sharing and discussing your opinions with others on Don’s blog.

  8. Teachers using technologies to distance themselves from pupils? Not in my experience.

    I had a great conversation with Robert, when he posted about this, because, like most teachers, what I am interested in, is how to improve my teaching and the learning that goes on in my class.

    I have an IWB -and when I returned to teaching after a long gap- was faced with the prospect of learning how to use it.
    Parent with standards – I admit I began sceptically. Perhaps I was influenced by my own education in the 70′s. I have a vivid memory of visiting a ‘language lab’ full of headphones and separate cubicles that had been used for a year or two and then left to gather dust. In teacher training we were encouraged to use technology (a tape recorder!). But the general take on it was that ‘real teachers’ didn’t need all that ‘fancy stuff’.

    I now use my IWB every day, and whilst always wanting to evaluate and adapt what I do with it, find it an invaluable tool. It’s not perfect, and is limited by my limitations as you might expect. Teachers do need training and time to effectively integrate IWB and possibly, more importantly, other technologies. Speaking personally I know I am just scraping the surface of what they can do.

    So why am I bothering? Well, our children will live in a world where these technologies will be commonplace. They will need to negotiate them in work, home and play. They adapt easily to them, and arguably already find them more suited to their experiences of media etc.
    I don’t want pupils to leave my classes (I am an English teacher) unaware of the many forms of communication gaining ascendancy in our world. I want them to be able to critique the content, comfortable with, but not distracted by, the packaging. Using IWB allows them to see ‘the little man behind the curtain’.

    Technology is not peripheral to our world -it can’t be in our schools either.

  9. From what I have seen of the use of technology in East Lothian schools it in no way shape or form distanced the teachers from the pupils, in fact if anything its the exact opposite.
    Subjects traditionally seen as “dry” or “boring” are being made more relevant and exciting. The pupils are being engaged through technology, the same technology that they are exposed to in their non school life.

  10. My favourite bits of new kit are the wireless voting pods. Using them as a formative assessment tool, I can get quality feedback from every pupil in a class of 30 in a matter of seconds. I feel much more connected to what is going on with the pupils in my class when I have this kind of technology at my disposal.

  11. We saw Mr Ledingham’s blog and the comments left. I think the Whiteboards/votes are very usfull to the teachers and the pupils because you can vote by using the votes and the whiteboard shows the answers to the whole class. We also use the whiteboard for quickstart in the mornings. The teachers can put stuff on the board and you can go on to the internet. so if the teachers want to show you anything on the internet you can see it. I disagree about the comment of the teachers hiding behind the boards because they think the whiteboards are very good to teach the pupils.
    By Keith Macneil
    P7 Whitecraig Primary.

  12. We saw Mr Ledinghams blog and the comments left.

    I think the interactive whiteboards are better than the blackboards but we learn better on the interactive whiteboards and it is more fun and its better than using chalk on the blackboards.You can also use the internet on the interactive whiteboards and you can play games on the whiteboards.

    I think the activotes are really good aswell because you only have to use buttons and they are quite small and the teacher can see what you have voted.

    Daniel Moffat P7, Whitecraig Primary School

  13. We saw Mr Ledingham’s blog and the comments left

    I think the interactive whiteboards are great because they make learning fun and we learn more than we did when we used the blackboards and if the teacher wants to show the class something on the internet it is easier because we can all see it instead of one person going up at a time.

    I also think the activotes are great because we can all vote sitting in our seats.

    We use the interactive everyday for maths , critical skills and topic work.

    I disagree with anyone who thinks that the interactive whiteboards are not great for the teachers and the pupils.

    Conor Ritchie P7

    Whitecraig primary School

  14. We saw Mr Ledingham’s blog and the comments left.

    I think the interactive white boards are great because for a lot of reasons like when we do critical skills everything is on the board for us all to do and you can pull up everything even a dictionary,calculator and a daily forecast. You can go on safari and get any picture and do anything with it. Design mode on ActivPrimary is brilliant and you can put videos in, or put a sound on an object. You can even lock it to the page so an infant can’t move your wonderful work.
    Aaron Goodall P7
    Whitecraig Primary School

  15. We saw Mr.Leddinghams blog and the comments left. I think that it is untrue that teachers are hiding behind the interactive whiteboards. They are similar to normal whiteboards because you can write on them both, but it is better on the interactive whiteboard because you can go on the internet and use ActivPrimary. The activotes are good to find out what we need to learn and what we already know.

    By Nathan Ross P7 Whitecraig Primary School

  16. We saw Mr Ledingham’s blog and the comments left.

    I think the interactive whiteboards are brillant because they make learning much more fun and can make the teachers and pupils closer.
    It also saves money on having to buy chalk and we don’t get covered in chalk.

    I also think the activotes are great because it means everybody can vote on what we think.

    Another thing is that if the teacher wants to show everybody something on the computer, it means the pupils can just look at the interactive whiteboard instead of crowding round the teacher to see.

    We use the interactive whiteboards for doing all types of things like maths,topic,writing and especially for critacal skills.

    I disagree with the comment about the teachers hiding behind the boards because the interactive whiteboards to me as I have already said can bring the teachers and pupils closer when we are doing our work.

    Kerry Morris P7
    Whitecraig Primary School

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