Monday, January 25, 2010

Interactive Whiteboards and Learning response

I found the article to be interesting, however I think it is also biased. The article is from SMART Technologies Inc., so it is clearly in their best interest to publish the success of the interactive white board. While I was reading it, I couldn't help but think that everything was a little too positive and there was not even one small complaint. That being said, I do agree that interactive white boards can be a positive addition to any classroom. I also agree that they can pull students in and keep them engaged for a longer period of time. I think they can also increase the motivation of a student, who might be willing to put in a little extra effort for a chance to go up to the board. I would be interested, however, in seeing a study on how long students continue to put in that extra effort. Like anything new, there is definitely a "wow" factor, which the article talks about. However, the article doesn't address if/when this wow factor decreases, which I'm sure it does. I don't think a teacher can count on wowing her students with the interactive whiteboard, I think that is more of a short term benefit.

One problem that I do have with the Smart board is that only one student at a time can be using it. I think having more than one person at the board at a time is a vital part of at least my teaching. I have dozens of lesson plans that include various people at the board at the same time answering questions, filling in charts, brainstorming ideas, etc. For example, one lesson I taught involved reflecting on the different aspects of Day of the Dead. As a quick warm up activity, I wrote "El Día de los Muertos" at the top of the white board and had students come up and write anything they remembered about this holiday. I had about five markers, meaning that at any time there were multiple students writing. After this initial brainstorming, I used what was on the board to first review what we knew and then transition into the new lesson. Had only one student been able to be at the board at a time, I don't think I would have done this lesson. It would have been too time consuming and I feel like I would have lost the attention of certain students while they waited their turn to add something to the list.

A part of the article that I completely agree with is the benefits for teachers. While student teaching, my main source of technology was the overheard projector. After teaching a lesson, I kept the transparencies, however I can't explain how often I wanted to refer back to notes from the previous days/weeks. A lot of times I wanted to refer back to the notes/ activities to help clarify a random student question, which means I didn't always have the exact transparency at hand. I know a lot of time was wasted while I pulled out the stack of transparencies and started flipping through them, looking for the correct one. I would have loved to have been able to use the technology the Smart board offers in saving notes/activities and easily referring back to them at a later time.


Brittany Gonio said...

I also thought about the bias while reading this article. I believe the article is a good way to show the benefits of the interactive whiteboard, but I think they should have had other researchers look into and report their findings so that it would come off as less biased.

In response to having only one person at the Smart board at a time, it could be fixed by the fact that most often the Smart boards are surrounded by white boards. That way you could have everyone participate at the same time and then you could transfer the important notes over to the Smart board to save the additions from your students.

Christine said...

I agree completely that the Smarboard benefits teachers. I loved being able to save discussions, notes, and lessons in a Notebook file. Everything I needed was always at my fingertips and I never needed to mess around with transparencies.

I thought you also made an excellent point when you talk about the problem of only being able to have one person use the Smartboard at a time. It really can slow a lesson down and change the pace at which you teach. I know I tried doing a spelling game on the Smartboard and I found it to be very ineffective because only one student was able to come up to practice the word at a time. Sometimes kids would come up and have no idea how to spell the word and it would slow the whole practice session down.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the Smartboard, but overall I do agree that it helps teachers out in that it saves them time and allows them to enhance their lessons.

eschimic said...

I completely agree that we need to be aware of the bias of this article and that we need to examine both the benefits and drawbacks of the Smartboard. This technology is new to me, and so far I have only heard positive things about it. I think it is crucial to realize that while the Smartboard can be very beneficial in a classroom, it may also take away from the teacher's intended purpose if it is not used correctly.