This is third time I’ve tried to write this post. I’ve had a hard time trying to cover all the bases and still say what I want to say. So I think at this point I’m just going to be as direct as possible and go with it.
I believe interactive whiteboards can be an incredibly engaging instructional tool when used properly. Now what does it mean to use the IWB properly?
First, you have to actually unpack the equipment and turn the board on. When teachers refuse to even try I have to ask how that board ended up in that room in the first place. I would love to see some kind of application process put in place before a teacher receives a board. I also question whether the teacher really has the best interest of the students in mind. I think of this quote often, “We need to prepare students for their future, not our past.”
Interactive whiteboards are called interactive for a reason. They NEED to be used interactively! That means let the students touch the board. Stop blocking the board with desks and tables. When kids aren’t allowed to touch the board, the board becomes exactly what the critics say it is…a glorified overhead. It focuses attention on the front and center of the room and kids just sit and watch. Certainly not the best use of something supposed to be interactive.
I realize it takes more time to plan and adjust lessons to incorporate technology. But any teacher that is a good teacher actively reflects on their lessons and adjusts them accordingly. It bothers me tremendously when a teacher says they’ve been teaching for 25 years when actually they’ve taught 1 year, they just taught it 25 times. There are so many resources available now it would not be that difficult to make some adjustments. I also don’t expect teachers to modify every lesson plan for the entire year at one time. All I ask is that they make an effort. Try modifying one unit or one section of a unit and see how it goes and move on from there. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but at least try it!
There are critics that claim these boards are a colossal waste of money and there are the champions that claim their mere presence can transform classrooms. I agree with neither. There has to be some middle ground. They are only a waste if they’re not used properly, and when they are used to be truly interactive they can be quite effective. Is taking the middle ground a cop out?