If ever there was a technology specifically designed to reinforce a nineteenth century view of didactic teaching, the IWB (Interactive White Board) has to be that technology. First it is more than just the IWB itself – commonly known as a Smartboard from the manufacturer Smart Technologies but also made by Promethian, Hitachi and many other manufacturers as well – you also require a data projector, wall installation and sound equipment (amplifier and speakers) and power supplies too. To be of any real value you will almost certainly also need a connection to the local network via which, if your network is correctly established, access to the Internet can be obtained, and also some form of mobile interface device such as voting clickers, wireless keyboards and mice and perhaps microphones and pens too. That is quite an outlay for an individual class or training room, at least £4,000 per room, most likely a little more. You will need to get quite a lot of improved results from the use of the equipment to justify that sort of outlay, whether you are measuring ‘success’ in ROI or examination grade uplift.
Regrettably, pushed by Government Quangos such as Becta and the DoE, and without much real thought as to the cost/benefit analyses required before undertaking such a major project, whilst many schools and colleges and most significant IT training companies have laid out their training rooms with this fashionable equipment and have borne that sort of outlay, all too often the IWB either lies fallow, is used simply as a projector screen or, even when thought has been given to trying to find some sort of interactive use, the IWB is still mostly seen being used for the sort of ‘quasi-interactive’ activity which whilst brilliant in Primary Schools, (moving illustrated piles of disassembled bones to make skeletons and then covering these with other organs to explain simple anatomy), by the time students are reaching the higher levels of Secondary School, College and/or Training Centre education, not only are such methods ineffective, mostly because it takes a long time for each individual learner to ‘have their go’, but also because, by this stage, more challenging ways of using the tool intelligently and efficiently have to be developed to meet the growing minds of the learners, and that development generally takes time, which is in short supply, and/or purchase of specialist software, which is even more expensive, especially in the short term.
Well everything of course is relative. If you are spending £4,000 or more in equipping a room, then clearly it makes sense to spend some time, and perhaps a little extra money on resources like time and shared room use, and allowing teacher/trainers to learn and develop suitable materials which they can use and to consolidate their time and skills such that they feel ‘at home’ with these expensive ‘toys’ and can use them effectively with all level of user.
Some ideas which:
have proved to be very helpful, and do not take endless time to create, include:
Such a list can never of course be complete, brilliant teachers and trainers will always come up with other, better ideas than I can, but perhaps these few ideas may provide food for thought. All additions, ideas, views etc please comment below and if you would like to know how to actually create any of the ideas on my list just drop Spurgeon Training an ‘e’ at any time