Is it wise to use interactive whiteboards?

Fuzhou, China
May 22, 2014 12:52am CST
In times of tight budgets, a target has been placed on IWBs for one primary reason cost. Most IWBs are expensive, and when schools spend thousands of dollars per classroom, it is usually with the accompanying expectation of tangible results from the investment. So when people see IWBs used poorly in classrooms where there was a lack of professional development or where the IWB was paired with a teacher whose teaching style was not enhanced by an IWB, a natural hatred toward Interactive Displays grows because money has been wasted. To argue that money should not be spent on expensive technology is a very valid point. But, it only goes so far for two reasons: Schools frequently spend money on more expensive technologies when equivalents are available. Schools spend large sums of money on many technology products that support students but do not directly impact classroom instruction. Some students have difficulty with hand-eye coordination. If you are using an optical interactive whiteboard tablet, which is much more cost effective than a tablet pc, you write on the tablet but view what you have written on the projected image. For younger students and some special education students, this is extremely difficult. If you are using a tablet pc, which includes a display, the costs of current options which allow functionality beyond basic e-readers are nearly equal to the cost of an interactive whiteboard. There are valuable tools for content interaction and content creation found in the software provided with interactive white boards. While there are several online interactive whiteboard space applications, none are as robust, particularly in terms of content creation resources, as the software provided by IWB manufacturers. The advantage to using portable pads produced by IWB manufacturers is that you still have access to the manufacturer’s software. The fact that even with multi-touch functionality or multi-user software only 1-4 students can interact with the IWB at one time is part of the teacher centered argument. The same instructional strategies we use to insure all students are involved in class can be used with the IWB. Pair and share, writing answers on wipe off marker boards, and coming to consensus in small groups, are all strategies that can be used to engage all students. These strategies have the potential to be more successful with the added motivation of being chosen to use the interactive technology if you actively participate.
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