This week the annual BETT Show (http://www.bettshow.com) will be held in London from January 13th-16th. The show is now the largest educational technology event in the world and many Irish teachers and education professionals will attend. I am sure this year there will be renewed Irish interest in light of the recent government investment in ICT.
One item that is sure to attract a lot of attention again this year is the interactive whiteboard and its ever-expanding set of accessories. IWBs are taking the world by storm and a recent book by Chris Betcher and Mal Lee entitled, The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution: Teaching with IWBs, gives us the background to this phenomena. You might like to visit their Ning to join some of the discussions taking place around the use of IWBS at http://iwbrevolution.ning.com.
Belcher and Lee list six reasons why IWBs are different from other classroom technologies that preceded it. They are as follows:
1. IWBs are really the first electronic instructional technology designed primarily for use by teachers
The first board was sold by SMART to a university. This is different from technologies which were created for business and we adopted them into education.
2. IWBs are the first, and, as yet, only digital instructional technology that all the teachers in a school are able to use in their everyday teaching
The research shows that where IWBs are introduced into schools along with “a whole lot of professional development and training” they are used extensively by classroom teachers daily.
3. IWBs can be readily, securely and inexpensively installed in every classroom for immediate teacher and student use (their view not mine)
They make the point that 1:1 laptop programs are an unrealistic option in most schools while putting a board in every classroom is manageable. The fact that teachers can use them daily in their teaching justifies the investment.
4. IWBs can accommodate all teaching styles and can be used to support whole-class, small-group and personalized teaching.
They rightly state that “good teaching is good teaching and technology – if used correctly – can enhance teaching in all sorts of emerging ways”. But they caution that by just installing the boards without adequate support often results in little or not improvement in teaching and learning.
5. IWBs facilitate the integration and ready use of all other digital technologies-hardware and software, and give additional educative power to these other technologies.
Belcher and Lee maintain that the IWB can be used “as the centerpiece of a digital teaching hub with an ever-evolving suite of digital tools to take teaching into the digital era”. The IWB can allow the teacher and students to bring all types of digital content into the classroom via the board – existing software, digital learning objects, student podcasts, video snippets etc. The list is endless.
6. IWB teaching is receiving immense and growing support from the ‘IWB’ industry globally
The authors contend that PC manufacturers focus primarily on the business market and this is the sector they really listen to when upgrading or adjusting their products. In the world of IWBs the manufacturers also listen very carefully to their customers who are primarily teachers. The improvements and accessories they introduce are heavily influenced by demands coming from their customers.
IWBs are here to stay and Irish schools are actively fund-raising to purchase these tools for use by teachers and pupils in our schools. Once schools start to use the boards they begin actively seeking relevant digital content. Belcher and Lee provide a list of some repositories for learning objects to support the integration of IWBs into classroom teaching. Many of these are state sponsored and many countries are now actively ensuring that schools have access to quality learning objects that are relevant to their school curricula. Enjoy and let us know what you think?
Some places to find digital resources for your IWB
The Teacher Resource Exchange
The Learning Federation
This is a federally funded repository of digital learning objects funded by the Australian government.
The Wisconsin Online Resource Center