Digital Technology / Education / IWBS

Interactive WhiteBoards (IWB’s): Passing phase or Authentic learning tool?

When it comes to new technology or any of the upcoming, state-of-the-art tools in the education sector, it is not what it does but how you use it that ensures great learning and effectiveness. You can have the most expensive, innovative technology but not elicit authentic, creative, interactive learning if you don’t use it productively.  Currently, one of the most prominent digital technologies within classrooms is the presences of Interactive White Boards (IWBs). Substantial investment has been made to make sure the majority of classrooms in schools have access to this tool, in efforts to ‘revolutionised learning’ (Arnott, 2004 cited in Higgens et al 2007). The question is, is it? Higgins et al take a critical look at literature in relation to IWB’s to answer this very question and the discoveries, though not astounding, draw out interesting key points.

IWB’s are often looked on favourable by teachers and have been seen to have many beneficial attributes for teaching including:

  • Interactivity
  • Flexibility & Versatility
  • The promotion of ICT skills and development
  • Enhanced motivation and engagement with students
  • The possibility to cater to a variety of learners through multi-sensory capabilities

However there are downfalls, interactivity doesn’t necessarily equate with quality teaching or learning, and just because you can use multi-sensory features  doesn’t mean you always should. Higgins et al also uncovered there is very little empirical evidence directly linking this type of ‘digital’ learning to expanding or increased attainment of learning by students. Not to mention keeping up with technology and IT issues can cause problems within classrooms.

This is not say IWB’s are not increasing learning or don’t have their place but that like all tools as stated at the beginning of this post, it’s not what the technology can do but how you use it, and teachers must be critical and creative in how they incorporate the use of IWB’s for effective and productive learning outcomes.

References

Higgins, S., G. Beauchamp, and D. Miller (2007), Reviewing the literature on interactive whiteboards, Learning, Media and technology, 32(3), 213-225.

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