Should I rely on the supplier of my electronic whiteboard to teach me how to use it?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 | IWBs

The extent to which you should rely on the supplier of your interactive whiteboard for training depends on two things:

  • the nature of the supplier
  • the package that you purchased.

Some suppliers have programmes in place where they provide training to teachers obtaining electric whiteboards from them.  When you purchase your board, you must enquire about the availability of training.

Many vendors are mere box-droppers; they sell you a device and once you’ve taken the box and they have their money the transaction is complete.  In all fairness to these dealers, they do not profess to be more than vendors.  This is something that you have to keep in mind when you select an interactive whiteboard dealer.

Vendors usually know their product range very well, and even if they don’t provide formal training, they are a good source of information if you have any hardware – and even software – related questions.

Where training is provided look carefully at what such training consists of – it may focus on mechanical functions of the interactive whiteboard but gives little guidance on pedagogical issues.  Remember that the most important thing you have to learn is how you, as a teacher, can most effectively use your board as a teaching tool.

Choose a reputable dealer to supply your interactive whiteboard.  That does not necessarily mean you must stick to the big, established companies.  There are many smaller ones who give excellent service.  In fact, you are more likely to get some training thrown into the bargain from a smaller outfit.  Be careful of the fly-by-night establishments – those vendors who suddenly appear from nowhere and make grand promises.  Check their references, ask around and get some feedback from other teachers before you select a dealer.

Should you rely solely on the supplier of your interactive whiteboard to teach you how to use your machine?  No.  The dealer must make a contribution, but should not be viewed as your only source of training.

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9 Comments to Should I rely on the supplier of my electronic whiteboard to teach me how to use it?

Tuesday, 6 October, 2009

I would argue that the first 1 or 2 basic sessions should be done by the supplier / vendor as part of the package. Then, after that the facilitators within Khanya can follow up with more advance intergrated curriculum training as most of the facilitators are / were educators. This should be an ongoing process as the vendor / supplier’ software is constantly being updated.


Abimbola Akanwo
Tuesday, 6 October, 2009

Any device/tool such as an Electronic Whiteboard should arrive with an easy to understand and follow manual(s) and instructions as part of the package.

No one should have to settle for less…

Mariaan Bester
Tuesday, 6 October, 2009

The first contact I had with the electronic white board that I am using, was when another EDUCATOR used it to explain curriculum material. Vendors gets excited about different tools than teachers do. Sometimes vendors use flashy features to impress both teachers (and learners) at first, but they do not have that much value as teaching tool.

On a practical note – there is never enough time to properly prepare tailor-made lessons for the South African Curriculum. Just a question: Is it a bad idea to invest in the same IWB than a fellow educator in order to share material and have another source for training?

Mark C
Tuesday, 6 October, 2009

Vendors should do basic training as a (free) service. When putting fuel into a car, the oil and water levels and windscreens can be checked by the petrol attendant.
If more intensive training is to be done by the vendor, then its cost should be included in the price of the board and done by a professional. Basic training which includes understanding a few technicalities and some features of the board should be done free of charge.
At present the boards are just installed by vendors and the Khanya project deals with training. In east we have been proactive in doing training with educators while their boards were installed at their schools. At least they will be familiar with some features of the board. The big job to do is to show how the board is to be used in teaching and learning.
A request is that either the Project Manager or the vendors check their handiwork once they are done with the whole IAWB-laptop-software setup. This must be done before handing the IAWB over to the school or facilitator. A thorough check of all equipment installed or left behind should be made and signed off. Also informing the facilitator when the job has been completed will help to expedite management and training issues.

Tuesday, 6 October, 2009

The supplier should definitely give a demo to the workings of the board. The do’s and don’ts. The Khanya facilitator will then move in to take the SMARTboard user from novice to an advanced, avid user of the technology – using the skills to incorporate it with the curriculum to produce learner centered interactive lessons.

Derek Wijtenburg
Wednesday, 7 October, 2009

Parrot Products Interactive Whiteboard System (PPIWS)

The PPIWS is a unique system in that no physical board is required. It was inspired by a university student who made and Interactive White Board from the electronic game machine Wii. Thus it works on those principles.

A Small device, about the size of your cell phone, is placed on top of your projector (it can also be permanently installed from the ceiling) and connected via the USB port to your computer. Because the pens position is recognised by this device and not by electronics fitted to a board, no board is required. This reduces the cost dramatically – to about 60% less than other competing systems. Being so small it is also easy to share – move the PPIWS rather than the entire class. We mostly use it by projecting straight onto a wall as it works perfectly by doing so. We can provide a special whiteboard that brings out the best of the projection and reduces glare on the eyes to complement it if required.

The software of the system is very easy to use and can be taught to a user in about 20 minutes – a complete instruction booklet complements this. This software however just allows the user to us the product as a whiteboard or mouse and does not have educational specific features.

I have spent much time researching educational software and have arrived at the conclusion that there is a world of opportunities in this area. I think that a company such as Evalunet is probably going in the right direction with this by following the syllabus in a structured way. Programs that add content for teachers can also add value and there are numerous types available. I do believe that there is probably a gap for software which provides a structured lesson for each part of the syllabus of every subject. Especially where teachers are under trained; this would provide a minimum standard to the lesson and would be great for government role out. I don’t know of such software being available though, but I do believe that this would turn the Interactive Whiteboard into a necessity rather than it being a content provider or add on.

All the software packages that I have found are all complemented by the Parrot Products Interactive Whiteboard System.

The focus for the PPIWS has been simplicity of use and we believe this has been achieved.

The future of the PPIWS is to have the system built into a projector making the product an all in one solution. This will be available from Parrot Products in early 2010 at a targeted retail price of R25 000,00. This will mean that there is a totally portable all in one system requiring nothing but a wall at about half the price of existing system with projector.

Derek Wijtenburg
Production Director Parrot Products

Dereck Marnewick
Friday, 9 October, 2009

Wow Derek, thanks for the positive comment regarding the EvaluNet software.

This coincides with a recently completed independent survey commissioned by Khanya to determine the effectiveness of the EvaluNet software at Khanya schools.

Regarding the survey, one of the questions asked of the schools was, ‘How well does the EvaluNet software support the curriculum delivery?’ Of the 21 schools surveyed the results were as follows:

3 were unable to respond since they had the software for less than 2 months

1 responded with a – could be improved

5 responded with a – good

8 responded with a – very good

4 responded with a – excellent

AVERAGE of respondents – 3,82 OUT OF 5

I think you will agree that the above is a resounding YES to the value of XT.

Tuesday, 20 October, 2009

An interactive whiteboard should operate on its own powerful software in the education field. We first focus on the creativity, curriculum knowledge of the educators before we introduce them to software packages which you can manipulate on the interactive boards.

It is not a fair assumption that the interactive board will be used every minute of every period, but to enhance the teaching experience with sound, color, touchable objects and structured lessons designed by their own educators.

Having said that, if a teacher does not have access to the interactive device all the time the teaching moments will fly by, till he/she booked the shared interactive device!

Charmaine Friel
Wednesday, 4 November, 2009

Training on IWB’s should be done by the supplier who knows how the software works. Training should include using the tools to create lessons as well as integration of curriculum content and software. Training should be hands on where teachers create lessons during the sessions. If there was only one board on the market, then it would be fine for Khanya facilitators to do subsequent training, but there are many good quality solutions out there and it is a huge additional burden on Khanya faciltators to take this on. Khanya is a project which will come to an end.What then? Suppliers need to undertake to do sufficient, relevant & thorough training to ensure sustainabilty of this exciting technology. We are reaching the stage in the implementation of IWB’s where some teachers are very proficient in the use and integration of the technology. These are ultimately the “champions” who should drive the process.

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