Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards

There has been much discussion lately on the use of Interactive Whiteboards in classrooms and I feel the need to say one thing. Feel free to quote me.

The only thing more misguided than a person who doesn't see the value of an interactive whiteboard in a classroom is the person who thinks they belong in every classroom.

As I have blogged about in the past, I have an interactive whiteboard in my classroom and I feel it has transformed my teaching. I have heard the opponents say that it is just another way to have the 'sage on the stage' and, as I have said before, I am rarely in front of the board. I typically have the students at the board and I sit between some disruptive students with my portable slate. If you go back to educational theory, you will find that kinesthetic and visual kids will find a comfortable adaptation to learning with an IWB. I can't imagine going back to teaching without the board.

One thing I keep reading and hearing about administrators who make a major purchase to buy one for every classroom. Misguided is the best thing I can say. Anyone adept in education understands that not all students learn the same way. In addition, all teachers are prepared to teach in that way. The boards should be carefully purchased and dramatically infused into classrooms and curriculum.


cnansen said...

I must be one of those "misguided"administrators. In my case I am the Technology Director for our district, and we have placed a mounted SMART Board and mounted projector in every classroom in our district.

We have 9 members of our technology department who have teaching degrees, and they work with the teachers in our 19 schools to work with teachers in their classroom during the school day.

I figure that over the course of five years we pay a classroom teacher over $200,000 to be in that classroom. (Based on $40,000 per year salary, not figuring in benefits.) Investing another $2,000 in the SMART Board and projector and providing training and support should make them more than 1% more productive! So this is an investment in that teacher and that classroom.

We have also placed a document camera in each classroom, and our special education stimulus money will be used to install SMART sound enhancement systems in each classroom.

Our Curriculum Director is working to have SMART Responders in all classrooms where we will be taking common assessments as part of our Professional Learning Communities strategy.

Each teacher is given the option of having a Macbook Pro or iMac.

Our emphasis has been to create technology rich classrooms, with mobile laptop carts, rather than having computer labs in our schools or 1-1 laptop programs.

TJ Shay said...


Since you have taken the extra care to have trained people to support and train the teachers, you are not blindly placing boards in rooms, which is what I meant. However, I have been hearing about administrators putting boards into the rooms of people who do not want them. That is the basis for my comment. In addition, I can't imagine how much it would be used in the gymnasium, but I have heard of it happening.

I love your thinking that you are investing a teacher and a classroom. I believe strongly in technology-rich classrooms...but, if you don't have teachers who embrace the technology, you are wasting considerable tax dollars.

Teachers have a very strong responsibility in this expenditure. I honestly believe that a teacher who does not embrace new teaching methods should be out of a job. That said, administrators who purchase tons of equipment that gets used as a partition between parts of the room (what a salesperson told me a whiteboard was being used for), should be standing in the unemployment line right along side the teacher.

So, I believe our philosophies are very close, based on your implementation strategy. Places geographically close to me do not hold the same good standards.