The Interactive Whiteboard:

Technological advancements have always closely affected our schools and other learning institutions or environments. Developments such as the Quill and Ink to the Pencil and Pen; from Chalkboards to Whiteboards; and from Overhead Projects to PowerPoint had all affected classroom functionality in their own particular way. Today, there is particular focus on the implementation and the development in the use of the Interactive Whiteboard. Like the transition from the outdated and dirty chalkboards to the whiteboards, Educational Institutions have seen the educational benefits that come from applying IWB’s into classrooms.

Interactive Whiteboard in the classroom

Essentially, an Interactive Whiteboard is an electronic whiteboard which provides an escape from the traditional ‘teacher on writing on board’ approach. The IWB provides different and very interactive methods of presenting information, it encourages learning through a creative and interactive environment. In conjunction with learning programs such as ‘ActivInspire’, the IWB becomes an abundant source of interactive learning. A glimpse of the interactive lessons can be seen through this video clip found at http://www.prometheanplanet.com/en-us/support/software/activinspire/. Through such programs, information can not only be presented through various different ways but can also be experienced through interactive activities through such technologies.

Reflection:

There is no doubting that the IWB is a wonderful tool that can promote learning, especially if a teacher seeks to differentiate between learning styles of his or her classroom. If a teacher follows Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, the IWB can be a very valuable tool. As C. Lane explains, Gardner based his theory on the basis that there are 8 different types of intelligence and that each person uses their strongest intelligence when learning. They are as follows:

  • Visual/Spatial:these learners think and visualise information in terms of physical space (e.g. builders, carpenters, architects etc.)
  • Bodily/Kinaesthetic: these learners learn best through physical activities
  • Musical:these learners respond well to rhythm and sounds in their environment
  • Interpersonal: these learners respond best through personal interaction with others
  • Intrapersonal: these learners work best individually and access themselves in terms of strengths and weaknesses
  • Linguistic: Learners that respond to and use words effectively
  • Logical/mathematical: learners effectively use logic and calculation
  • Naturalist: learners who “deal with sensing patterns in and making connections to elements in nature”.

multiple-intelligences

By looking at both this information as well as what the IWB’s offer, it is clear that differentiation between Visual, Bodily, Musical and Logical learners can be easily achieved. This can be done through the use of activities that include: graphics that can be drawn from the teacher’s computer or the internet, interactive activities and educational games that see children working on the IWB themselves, video or musical clips and samples, and programs which include mathematical tools for the students co-operatively. As J. Gage (2006) quotes: “Using an IWB increases the pace and depth of lessons and gives more time for discussion and questioning… moves from writing the question down… to brainstorming it… this helps students focus… on the lesson content and sharing ideas… (p. 25)”
However I do have one criticism of this ICT. As explained above, the tools used can be very appropriate in catching the attention of children – thus if a teacher puts too much focus on the appearance of his lesson by perhaps flooding it with irrelevant graphics, sounds, colours or tools, it could become a distraction rather than an effective learning tool. As P. Kent (2007) explains, ICT tools that promote thinking skills actually are effective in improving student results, thus is we truly want to use this ICT to its full affect, WE must first learn how to use it properly. Gage (2006) reinforces this, he states that there should be certain features that a teacher needs to implement when using this ICT. Features such as checking for student prior knowledge, checking if they can identify the relevance of the lesson, keeping the lesson well structured, making sure that the content requires high level thinking and making sure ICT includes differentiation etc.
The IWB is a tool with great educational potential. Not only is its potential recongnised in school environments, it has also been implemented in the workforce as a presentational tool.
IWB in the work force
References:

Gage, J. (2006). How to use and Interactive Whiteboard really effectively in your secondary classroom. London: David Fulton Publishers. p. 25

Kent P. (2007). Pedagogy before Technology: The pedagogical Underpinning of the Effective Integration of ICT. Presented at Latrobe University. Retrieved from Blackboard (April 2011)

Lane, C. (Nd).  The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide: Gardner’s Theory of multiple Intelligences . Retrieved from Blackboard (April 2011)