Some say an interactive whiteboard is a waste of money – is it true?

Saturday, November 27th, 2010 | IWBs, technology

An interactive whiteboard can be a complete waste of money – it can also be the best investment you’ve ever made.  It all depends how you use it.

Because interactive whiteboards are big and white and expensive and often unused, the analogy of a white elephant springs to mind.  Sadly, in some classrooms interactive whiteboards are just white elephants – expensive, useless gadgets.

Sometimes the boards are never used at all.  You can’t write on (most of) them with a normal board pen and since the effort to connect the board to a data projector and a computer and to start up the computer takes effort, some teachers find it too much of a bother and rather use their old board for writing.  This is the ultimate in white elephantness – not only is the interactive whiteboard a waste of money, but so are the data projector and the computer.

In other cases the board is only used as a display surface for the data projector.  None of the interactive capabilities are used – a white wall would suffice.  Since the interactive whiteboard is not used for its intended purpose – and could be done without – it is a waste of money.

The situation changes when the interactive whiteboard transforms the classroom into an interactive one.  Skillful users of these devices encourage classroom interaction – not only physical interaction where learners touch the board to select, drag and drop, or write, but also mental interaction where they interact with the learning material and with one another.  If this happens the value of an interactive whiteboard is great – you can hardly express it in monetary terms.

Interactive whiteboards also earn their keep if they help you – the teacher – to come to grips with technology.  Perhaps you were hesitant to use technology before, but since the interactive whiteboard resembles your old writing board, using it may make the transition to technology in the classroom easier.  If your board can accelerate your progress, it is money well spent.

Before buying an interactive whiteboard, first think how you would use it. Many teachers first bring a laptop and a data projector into their classroom and only invest in an interactive whiteboard once they’ve identified a real need for it.

An interactive whiteboard is only a waste of money when you don’t use it optimally.  Of course, this is true of any technology that you buy for your classroom.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

Click here for more information about interactive whiteboards.

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5 Comments to Some say an interactive whiteboard is a waste of money – is it true?

Kathy
Saturday, 27 November, 2010

One of the great joys of an interactive whiteboard is that you don’t have to know everything about its use in order to get good mileage out of it. With a few basic skills you can use it interactively in wonderful ways with your class.

In time you may have the opportunity to learn more about the whiteboard software, but this isn’t essential at the beginning. A content-rich, interactive programme is all you need in order to engage your learners initially. Once you have tried this for a while, you will want to learn new things a little at a time. This is the best way. Trying to learn everything at the outset is too overwhelming.

Using an interactive whiteboard can cut down text book expenditure dramatically. All the texts can be provided on the “big screen” for the learners to read, listen to, interact with and answer questions about.

Chasfred
Sunday, 28 November, 2010

Who said that time is money? He was right. If you waste time, you waste money. So it is with using technology in education. If you do not use time wisely, you could very well be wasting the investment Khanya made in the schools.
Teachers should plan a lesson: Introduction, Body with sub sections and conclusion. Determine where the technology must feature in the lesson. It boils down to good planning. The Electronic Interactive Whiteboard, Projector and Laptop is a wonderful medium to use as a support to deliver the curriculum in an interesting and effective manner.
If educators cannot plan they MUST be taught to do so. Thorough planning is vital; otherwise it is a waste of time and ultimately a waste of money.

Dereck Marnewick
Monday, 29 November, 2010

‘A waste of money’ is a relative term. It would be a waste to spend R 20,000 per classroom if there were more pressing needs. It would also be a waste to spend that amount and the equipment is not adequately used.
On the other hand, at some schools it could be R 20,000 wisely spent.

Marchelle Fester
Tuesday, 30 November, 2010

It is vital that EWB’s be given to the right person in a school.Poor planning in this regard is what leads to it becoming a white elephant. Giving it to teachers for reasons such as seniority or because they are technologically more advanced are not good enough reasons. Look for an innovative,passionate educator, even one who is not so computer literate. This is the person who will realise the worth of this elephant standing in their classroom and they will take the time and effort needed to successfully incorporate the board into everyday learning and teaching.

Mark C
Wednesday, 1 December, 2010

It is a waste of money if you don’ t use it or don’t find value in using it. The other thing is that the board must be technically stable and not have too many things going wrong. Then it’ s going to stand still. i have seen green boards come back into the classroom in front of the IAWBs. Have any of us try to find reasons for that?

What is also a waste is when the IAWBs are delivered and the community decide shop illegally (stealing) data projectors and IAWBs. I don’t think I am stating this too heavily. I HATE that people are stealing from schools. I DESPISE it.

There are schools that would love to experience using IAWBs. It won’t be a waste. Unfortunately due to their history counts against them.

@Chas. I think that we have a fetish with planning. Things can be done on the fly on the board without planning. Rather an effective lesson than a perfect lesson. If an educator knows what the learners ought to know they can quickly construct or show problems on a board that will keep learners busy finding solutions for a long time, meeting all the assessment standards and outcomes. Sometimes too much time is spent planning lessons, too little time teaching. Learner involvement is important otherwise learning won’t take place. Also, there must be room for where learners will take you with their questions or answers…and that it is not always planned.

The board also leads to experimentation with different things such as sims, teaching methods etc. It must have some value.

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