Saturday, September 25, 2010

Interactive Whiteboards: Tips for New Users

As technology moves at an ever-increasing rate, making all our communication and entertainment devices smaller, faster, and cheaper, schools all over the country rush to purchase the latest items, trying to give teachers more tools with which to help kids learn. Sometimes these new technologies can be great study and teaching aids and sometimes they’re not. But the usefulness of certain technologies in the classroom has little to do with the technology itself and more to do with how that technology is used. Interactive whiteboards are a great example. Interactive whiteboards (sometimes called smart boards) can be extremely helpful and engaging in the classroom, but only if they are used to their full advantage.

Don’t Use It Like a Glorified Chalkboard

Some educators feel that if they use technology in the classroom that their teaching will be gimmicky or that students will be paying more attention to the technology than the subject. As a result, even in school districts where interactive whiteboards are in every classroom, some teachers only use it as a glorified chalkboard, only for writing information for the whole class to see or using it simply for PowerPoint presentations. In addition, the teacher may be the only one allowed to touch or use the whiteboard. This type of limited use is frustrating to students who want to be engaged with new technology and learn by interacting with the subject matter.

Interactive Whiteboards are Interactive!

The best way to engage students with a whiteboard is to get them interacting with the subject matter on it. By touching it and trying it themselves, they retain more information and increase their desire to learn more. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use your interactive whiteboard collaboratively. In a classroom with limited computer use, interactive whiteboards let multiple students work through a single interface.
  • Give students the ability to interact with the subject matter. Let them write on it, draw on it, move it with their hands and fingers, or manipulate it in other ways. A simple drag and drop activity where multiple students come to the whiteboard one-by-one gets the kids out of their seat to interact with the subject matter.
  • Save their work. Because writing and images made on the whiteboard through electronic pens can be saved and printed, students don’t have to copy their work into separate notebooks. They can have the exact images and text they created in their hands before they walk out the door when the bell rings.
  • Use voting technology. Remotes that allow teachers to gather feedback from students on their interactive whiteboards have been shown to increase student achievement.

Using interactive whiteboards is beneficial to both the students and the teacher, but only when used to their full ability. How can you maximize the use of your interactive whiteboard?

Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and online classes.

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Mr. Math Teacher said...

This is interesting. I use a MOBI Interwrite pad, which allows me to walk around, share it with students, sit on their desks while I work, etc. I have a co-worker with a white board, and I always get nervous when I watch him use it: he's stuck at the front of the room! How do you deal with this? Thanks.

Skittles Ferrari said...

I think this is great advice. I'm currently studying to be a teacher, and I've already started thinking about the potential problems with using this kind of technology in the classroom. This post helped assure me that kids can and will use it properly and will learn to apply their knowledge to real life situations through classroom practice. Thanks!