“Does the cost of an interactive whiteboard system ‘really’ translate into increased pedagogy?”
..only if specific training is made available to teachers seems to be the answer!
The cost of an interactive whiteboard system is still quite a bite out of any school’s budget – so does the “cost/benefit ratio”, as governing bodies like to say, really worth it?
From my brief research looking around the web the answer is certainly a resounding “yes” – but the whiteboard must be in experienced hands! Most research seems to suggest that unless some form of formal education or training is made available to teachers giving them both the ‘basics’ and ‘examples of how to use this technology’ then these boards can just become very convenient whiteboards that use digital ink rather than a dry marker pen and a neat way of using your finger on the board rather than a mouse on a laptop! Not a particularly great use of precious resources. There is sooo much power in an interactive whiteboard, if only more teachers could harness that power!
The good news is that just as all things based on computers, this technology isn’t leaving us anytime soon. It will get cheaper and more powerful and of course over the long term every new teacher entering the profession as part of basic training will be fully trained to apply all the powerful new the techniques this technology is bringing us. In fact, there are even staff at Blossom Learning who were not only taught during grade school with Smart boards and laptops but they are now helping to spread the word themselves.
So, ultimately any investment made in these new technologies at the current time will pay off as teachers get more experienced with the technology. In the end, these products are not much of a risk for schools.
But we can’t afford to wait for this utopia. We need proper interactive whiteboard training to be made available to teachers now! At the very same time as the hardware is being installed in the classroom. Only then can we really test the best ways of using these boards for each grade and subject.
Research shows that just a minimal amount of dedicated SMART Board training, (even a single day of training if it is also related to applying the features to the classroom), brings a huge return on investment from these products. Specific training not only improves pedagogy but also saves significant time during class work preparation.
The message is clear;
- Do not introduce IWB systems without some form of training! In fact some might say that providing class work focused training is more important than the specific brand of hardware.
- A few hours spent learning IWB techniques when the boards are introduced will pay over and over and over and over!
- The interactive whiteboard isn’t going away so IWB skills learnt now will stay with you for your whole career.