There are currently many ICT trends that are said to ‘revolutionize’ learning in the classroom. One such trend involves the interactive whiteboard. IWBs have been said to have the potential to transform the teaching and learning that takes place in the classroom through student interaction, motivation and engagement. Please watch the following video to learn more about IWBs and their functionality in Australian classrooms:
*Video: Australian National Schools Network. (2010).
The benefits of using IWBs are obvious as they can be a very effective instructional strategy as they assist “teachers to use a wide variety of different teaching styles, benefiting all types of learners” (Gage, 2006, pg.19). The following image demonstrates ways in which IWBs benefit all learners in the classroom:
*Image: SMART Technologies Inc. (2006, pg.9).
This promotes the potential for IWBs to dramatically enhance and improve classroom teaching for all learners in the classroom. IWBs also allow students the ability to work together in small group work situations, individually and through whole class/student-centred methods when interacting with the whiteboard. Kent (2010) further demonstrates IWBs potential as the use of quality software and through high student interaction with the IWB allows for teachers to:
- Promote higher order thinking, easily shifting students focus from merely remembering the content to gaining a deeper understanding of the concept being taught
- Lead substantive conversations that allow the class to create or negotiate understanding of the subject matter
- Present knowledge as problematic, open to multiple interpretations, rather than fixed (pg.15).
Below is a link to an example of an IWB online game that involves students learning how to create an article in a persuasive text form and uses a combination of experiential learning, independent learning, problem solving and visual learning to engage students in conversations about the topic:
Howell presents the argument that IWBs “should be seen as interactive tools rather than screens to be manipulated by the teacher only” (2012, pg.98). This is supported by numerous education writers as Tolley (n.d.) explains that far too often, teachers use the IWB as a ‘data projector’ rather than an interactive medium (pg. 4). Teachers that use the IWB in such a way tend to have little to no confidence with using the IWB and thus, use it in its simplest form. This decreases the potential for students to become competent and confident technology users and to become digitally fluent in a world that has a growing dependence on technology. Australian Council for Computers in Education (2008) also agree with these statements as they state that “to better meet the needs of contemporary students, new ways of learning and working are preferable to adding ICT, or substituting new technology for old, to teaching strategies reflected in past schooling paradigms” (pg.1). Considering this, it is clear that teachers should receive appropriate training they need to be able to use the IWB effectively and those that can use IWBs must analyse the ways in which they use technology in the classroom in order to enhance their teaching pedagogy and to support and extend student learning through technology.
Having said that, IWBs cannot revolutionize and transform the teaching and learning that occurs in the classroom unless teachers acquire and adapt a personal digital pedagogy. Such a pedagogy is explained as “a new way of working and learning with ICT to facilitate quality learning experiences for 21st century learners [which] moves the focus from ICT tools and skills to a way of working in a digital world” (ACCE, 2008, pg.3). This can be done through the use of the Technology and Play framework to support the teaching and learning strategies that teachers use to help students achieve desired learning outcomes (Howell, 2012, pg.90). This approach allows for teachers to use the three elements of the framework (creative, experimental and purposeful activities) to use teaching strategies and practices that develop students understanding at all phases of learning. IWBs can be used in each phase of learning.
It is clear that the potential of IWBs in the classroom is dependent on how teachers incorporate technology into their pedagogical practices and the teachers confidence level in using IWBs as more than a projector. Campbell and Kent (2010) state that in order to use technology effectively in the classroom, “teachers need to have competent ICT pedagogical skills [as well as understanding] how to pedagogically apply these technologies in such a way as to enhance student learning” (pg.447). Therefore, it is imperative for the future that IWBs are used within a holistically authentic digital pedagogy, rather than being used as merely a digital projector, to help achieve desired student learning outcomes.
Australian Council for Computers in Education (2008). Digital World, Digital Pedagogies: Reframing the Learning Landscape. Australian Computers in Education Conference. ACEC Paper, June 2008.
Australian National Schools Network. (2010). Interactive Whiteboards. Big Picture Education Australia. Retrieved from: http://vimeo.com/5344567#
Campbell, C & Kent, P. (2010). Using interactive whiteboards in pre-service teacher education: Examples from two Australian universities. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 2010, 26(Special issue, 4), 447-463.
Education Services Australia. (2011). Responsible Fishing In Western Australia: Write an article. Retrieved from: http://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/viewing/L4914/index.html
Gage, J. (2006). How to use an interactive whiteboard really effectively in your secondary classroom. London, David Fulton, 2006, ch.3, pp.17-30.
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Vic. Oxford University Press, 2012.
Kent, Peter. (2010). Secondary teaching with interactive whiteboards. South Yarra, Macmillan Education Australia, 2010, ch.3 pp.13-40.
SMART Technologies Inc. (2006). Interactive Whiteboards and Learning: Improving student learning outcomes and streamlining lesson planning. White Paper, March 2006.
Tolley, R. (n.d.). The use of Interactive Whiteboards in Schools. Notes on the Use of IWBs in Schools.