Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The effectiveness of interactive whiteboards in the primary classroom


The importance placed upon ICT in schools has risen dramatically in the past ten years, and this has been reflected in the increased provision seen in the majority of schools as a result of high government expenditure. However organisations such as Becta, the governments adviser on ICT in schools, claim that despite the £1 billion that was spent on state of the art technology last year, 80% of schools are failing to use it effectively (Woolcock, 2008). Becta claims that this is because teachers are intimidated by the new technology and find it difficult to manage, and point out that children are often much more confident in using them than teachers.

From a personal perspective, until our session on Monday, I too found the thought of having to use the interactive whiteboard (IWB) to be very daunting, as although I feel I am fairly competent at ICT, I have not used a board before, and am aware that children's knowledge is often greater than mine! The session introduced a range of applications that can be performed using the IWB, and then allowed us to have hands on experience on using them ourselves, which I found to be very useful. However, I feel it may have been more effective if we were given a task to complete using the board, as it felt a bit like we were just playing, and I still don't feel entirely confident in being able to create effective resources using it. Despite this, whilst exploring the IWB, we found a number of really useful applications, and also online resources which can be used in class, and the potential of the IWB was revealed to me. The cross curricular potential is huge, as for every subject we found resources on the internet, which again highlights the ways in which ICT can be taught throughout all curricular areas and not just as a discrete subject.

After the session I feel that my knowledge and confidence in using IWBs is something that I need to build upon, as during my time in school it was an invaluable resource that the teacher used regularly on a daily basis to great effect. The class is particularly competitive and like to time themselves doing anything, be it times tables, literacy loops, even the register! Therefore the teacher often put a timer up on the board, so that the whole class was able to see the time, which led to children helping and encouraging those who were struggling to ensure that as a class they beat their previous record. This really emphasised team spirit within the class and it was brilliant to be able to watch this. The IWB was also used for literacy and maths, as the teacher used them to explain concepts in ways I had not seen before and the children could all understand. However the children did not often 'interact' with the board itself, therefore I am not sure about the name 'interactive' as although there are opportunities for children to write on the board etc, I feel that it is mainly used as a teachers tool, and so the children aren't necessarily interacting with the board, but hopefully the lesson!

I feel that as with all cutting edge technologies, IWBs have been hyped up within the media and their potential really emphasised. I'm not saying that they aren't an effective teaching tool, I feel that they can have a huge impact upon teaching and learning, however I feel that if their full potential is to be reached then more training should be provided, as these tools will only be as effective and inspirational as the person using them.

'Technophobe teachers wasting millions' (Woolcock, 2008) found on the Timesonline website.

1 comment:

Somabula Blog said...

...I feel that as with all cutting edge technologies, IWBs have been hyped up within the media and their potential really emphasised. I'm not saying that they aren't an effective teaching tool, I feel that they can have a huge impact upon teaching and learning, however I feel that if their full potential is to be reached then more training should be provided, as these tools will only be as effective and inspirational as the person using them...

Training is important. So is being proactive.