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.