I read this great post on tweenteacher.com about interactive whiteboards. I am blessed to be in a great classroom with a mounted projector and an interactive whiteboard (it’s interactive with a stylus not by touch) but I have been struggling to find ways to use the interactive whiteboard bit and I couldn’t figure out why that is. Isn’t it every teacher’s dream to have a setup like this in their classroom? I think Heather from tweenteacher.com put into words why I’m frustrated.
The big clunky forward facing, whole class method of lesson delivery via Interactive Whiteboard, I believe, is the Laserdiscof educational technology. The overpriced fad of Interactive Whiteboards (whether Smart or Promethean) is imperfect in their current incarnation. Sure, we all imagine classrooms with“Iron Man2”:-esque 3-D touch sensitive lessons, but inherently these pieces of equipment do not illustrate the spirit of technology in information delivery: all-access, collaborative, open, interactive, etc…
Currently, they are only as engaging as the lessons created, and those lessons are tedious to create and time-suckers in their efficiency. The prep time to create charts that utilize any effects over-and-above what you would already do with a laptop and LCD projector feels clearly developed by those with a disconnect to the precious time we have in education and the many hats we already wear.
The few times I have found ways to use the interactive whiteboard have mostly been teacher-centric and I have felt guilty afterwards. The kids are enthralled because it is different but, especially in middle school, this kind of thrill does not last long. So I have tried preparing some activities where the students get the stylus and go to the board but, again, only one person at a time can use the board. I get the kids to hand the “baton” of the stylus to the next student so I try to keep them engaged through the anticipation of getting to go up and use the board. This is still not ideal particularly if it takes a student a while to figure out the answer. I start to lose those kids already on the fringe and they start misbehaving out of boredom.
I think the interactive whiteboard has its place but I am really struggling to:
- find activities that are engaging enough to keep the whole class interested
- find activities that are easy and quick to make
- find web-based activity makers as I can’t download any software on my teacher computer