Technology has transformed the classroom over the past decades unraveling more and more possibilities to further enrich our students’ education. However, these potential opportunities are not attainable merely by introducing technology into the classroom. Teachers are required to first of all build an understanding of the technology and then how they can use it to build an effective pedagogical tool (Gage, 2006).
In recent years the interactive whiteboard (IWB) has become one of the most valued technologies used within the classroom. As it’s name suggests, an IWB is a large interactive display that connects to a computer and projector. A projector displays the computer’s desktop onto the board’s surface, where users control the computer using a pen, finger, stylus or other device (Howell, 2012). Howell (2012) suggests that the potential use of Interactive Whiteboard is limited only by your confidence as a teacher. The introduction of this new technology has gradually replaced ordinary whiteboards and overhead projectors, as they are no longer an effective method in delivering content knowledge to students (Gage, 2006).
If used effectively, IWBs have the capability to stimulate high levels of intellectual quality. Activities that promote intellectual quality include labeling, sorting, ordering and sequencing, puzzle, game or simulation. (Kent, 2010) These sorts of activities assist in promoting higher order thinking, authentic discussions, and creating problems for students to solve that are open to multiple interpretations (Kent, 2010). Considering time is precious in the classroom, using an IWB assists by increasing the pace and depth of lessons and giving more time for discussion and questioning (Gage, 2006). This technology allows teachers to share the learning experience with their students. Whilst, also giving students the chance to take on the teachers’ role in demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of concepts to their peers (Gage, 2006).
An IWB will be able to cater for a diverse range of learning styles (Howell, 2012). For instance, Visual learners will be able to engage with the content through the use of colours, pictures, graphs, mind maps (Gage, 2006). Kinesthetic learners will benefit from the use of videos and animations and being able to touch and move things on the board (Gage, 2006). Lastly, Auditory learners will be further stimulated by audio and video files can be used to supplement classroom discussion (Gage, 2006) The example provided of a learning object found on the educational website ‘Scootle’ exhibits all of these elements.
It is ultimately up to the teacher as to how they utilize the IWB in their classroom. Teachers often choose to use the IWB for whole-class teaching or for working with groups of students around the board. Gage (2006) states that critics are concerned the IWB may encourage direct instruction in whole-class learning situations rather than broaden their approaches to include more student-centered, inquiry-based approaches.
“In Education’s pursuit to take advantage of the enormous potential of computers we seemed to lose sight of what fundamentally underpins successful schools, that is, quality teaching.”(Kent, 2007, pg.4)
According to Kent (2007), Pedagogy comes before technology therefore teachers must ensure their teaching approach is catering for learners before an IWB can be introduced as a tool to enrich learning. And most importantly, technology should be able bring the topic alive for the students (Gage, 2006).
Gage, J. (2006). How to use an interactive whiteboard really effectively in your secondary classroom. In J. Gage, Pedagogy (pp. 17-30). London: David Fulton.
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Kent, P. (2010). Promoting Intellectual Quality with an IWB. In P. Kent, Secondary Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards (pp. 12-40). South Yarra: Macmillan Education Australia.