Getting the Most from Interactive Whiteboards

Michele Conway Posted 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.


5 Responses to “Getting the Most from Interactive Whiteboards”

  1. Ray Tolley says:

    Hi, Michele,

    Yes, I agree with almost everything that you say. But it seems such a pity that 10 years on we are still having to encourage proper use of the IWB. Perhaps one additional point to your list, ‘Where do you start?’ is to ensure that training is provided by a real ‘performer’ rather than just a ‘demonstrator’.

    The main outcome of my report, produced some years ago, was that the person providing the training (particularly in Secondary schools) should be capable of sitting alongside the teacher and gently suggesting ways in which the IWB can enhance the delivery of their particular subject.


    Best Wishes,
    Ray T

  2. Michele Conway Michele Conway says:

    Hi Roy

    We are actually in total agreement. I will only carry out training sessions as workshops where every trainee has a computer in front of them (with the whiteboard software) so that they can work along with me and do exercises on their own. All my training is set in a teaching context with specific subject examples for them to construct.

    Thanks for your comment and best wishes


  3. Michele Conway Michele Conway says:

    Hi Rachel

    I do run free 3-day training courses for trainers and teachers using Hitachi boards if this is of any help. I am also about to start posting short clips, probably on You Tube of ideas on how to use a whiteboard in teaching/lecturing.


  4. I totally agree with your advise. I am looking for a trainer on Smart interactive whiteboards for a small Prep school in Berks for this September. I have trawled the net without luck so far. Do you know of anyone who would be suitable?

  5. Michele Conway Michele Conway says:

    Hi Maureen

    I suggest Brenda Graham, she is an experienced teacher and an accredited interactive whiteboard trainer offering training and curriculum support for both IWB and interactive technologies at all levels of experience – beginners to ‘experts’.

    Contact information:

    phone 07910 378893

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