Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interactive Whiteboards - Is this the Answer?

Imagine entering a classroom where not only is the teacher out of their seat, but all of the students as well. Students are actively engaged in a discussion and writing their thoughts on a white board using a stylus. One student decides that each student should have a definite amount of time so he adds a countdown clock with a buzzer to the board. Each time the buzzer sounds, the student hands the stylus to another student and their time for writing their own brainstorming thoughts begin. You may wonder what is really happening here. Can this be learning? Will this help improve test scores? How can students learn in this chaos?
Not only are students learning, they are engaged. Interactive whiteboard technologies have opened up the transfer of knowledge, once thought to only come from the teacher, to students working collaboratively and sharing what they know with each other. Whiteboards allow students to write down ideas, manipulate data in ways once thought unfathomable, and save as text or images to a computer for use later. Teachers no longer need to recreate lessons from day to day but can simply open the saved file in order to continue where you have left off.
Using a computer, projector, and one of the many different whiteboards available on the market today, students can now become actively engaged in the lesson being taught. Virtual dissections can be performed with students each taking a turn using the virtual scalpel and tweezers to look at the inner parts of a frog. Collaborative stories can be written and revised on the whiteboard in clear view for all of the students to see. During a brainstorming session, each student can have their turn in listing their ideas for the specific topic being discussed. By simply selecting the Internet web browser available, the students can explore the Internet using their finger. How exciting would it be to be able to research things instantly and literally at your fingertips.
Studies have shown that students thrive when given opportunities to create their learning environment. Of course, they still need the teacher to direct them, but the students will find the way they learn best, be it auditory, visual, or kinesthetic, or, quite often, a combination of all three.
Are whiteboards the answer? Not always. However, when given the opportunity using the whiteboard, knowing the result will be reaching all students in their own way, this is a technology that must be considered. After all, it wasn't too long ago that computers weren't in the classroom either.

1 comment:

Randy Hansen said...

Hi Alice,

Great blog, nice ideas. I'm not sure all teachers would agree with your image of everyone out of their seats. Don't you think some teachers would consider that an out of control classroom? I don't, I think that is an engaged, active classroom. What would you say to teachers who felt that the class was off task?

How would you train those teachers to include IWB's in their classrooms?