Getting the Most from Interactive WhiteboardsPosted by Michele Conway on July 14, 2010
In the course of my work, I meet large numbers of teachers who use the interactive whiteboard (IWB) in their classrooms as little more than projection screens. I think that the current statistic is that over 60% of the whiteboards installed in English schools are only used in this way.
To me this is an appalling waste of money and equipment and one which can certainly be addressed by proper, and relevant, training. Installing an IWB without providing proper training is like giving someone a violin without violin lessons or an exercise bike without motivation! To persuade someone to use an IWB you have to provide both training and motivation and I would suggest that the training should be designed to provide motivation.
Training should not be a demonstration with a few people invited up to use the board but should be a workshop with all participants using the whiteboard software with the trainer. The trainer should set the use of all IWB tools into a teaching context choosing examples from the subject areas of the trainees whenever possible.
Let’s look at a few key questions. The obvious one is do IWBs really improve teaching and learning?
This is an easy one – there is plenty of research in the public domain that supports this. For example the report done by Somerset LEA which you can find here
So what if you have a board and don’t really know what to do with it – where do you start?
- Find out if your school, college or Local Authority provide training courses
- Ask the school INSET organiser to look for training. Suggest that they contact the company that provided the equipment. Be very specific about your training needs – it must be a workshop, you must be trained with a computer in front of you with the IWB software installed and you must be shown techniques set into a teaching context that you can then use in your classroom or preparation immediately
- Search the internet for training information. The manufacturer’s website and YouTube are good places to start.
- Set up an informal support group and get people to show each other ideas – things that they have done with their IWB
- Get the IWB software installed on your laptop and try it out for yourself. You don’t need a whiteboard attached to make the software work. Just try things out!
- Start with basic things like coloured pens and ask yourself what you could use colour for – prime and non-prime numbers, adjectives and adverbs, different parts of sentences. You are only limited by your imagination
- Be brave and experiment and, most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Michele Conway is a former Maths teacher and Head Teacher who has worked with computers and IT for 40 years and now writes and runs Hitachi’s IWB training scheme worldwide.