Interactive Whiteboards: innovation for the future or a revamp of the past?

Whiteboards have been all the buzz in the educational world for the past few years; my teachers in high school used them every so often during a physics or spanish lesson, for example. Are they really a step up from a white board or a projector? What makes them so different and so much more futuristic?  Do they “wow” students as much as educators say they do? After researching the uses of interactive whiteboards, I’ve come up with some answers to these questions.
This website has TONS of valuable information on interactive whiteboards including downloads, lesson plans, tutorials, and statistics about different brands of these whiteboards. Although the interactive whiteboard has cool graphics and pens that can be used to literally write on a computer screen, they still seem useless. This site has not convinced me that computers, whiteboards, and projectors cannot teach the exact same way than the overpriced IWB (interactive whiteboard). The site’s home page even has pictures of students on their computers while watching the IWB! The site was created for a technology grant; do you think they received it? Their research efforts should be rewarded with some class computers or a new whiteboard because I feel that personal computers would be more beneficial to students; they’re portable and personal! Also, so many children already have touch-screen phones and even computers; what makes teachers think that a touch-projector will grab their attention even more than a regular computer?
This website is a blog posted by a high school physics teacher. He featured two videos on the blog about whiteboards, one about the IWB and another about a $2 whiteboard. The learning results from the IWB are never discussed; the children pay more attention to the colorful, moving objects on the screen but are they really learning? Also, the children are never interacting with each other. They stand at the board alone while the teacher lets them know if they’ve performed correctly. The second video talks about the physics teacher’s form of teaching called the “Modeling Method”. This teaching method brings the students together to interact and learn from each other, unlike the ironically named and overpriced IWB.
This site is solely comparing prices of interactive whiteboards. Thousands and thousands of dollars per year are spent on these novelty boards when laptops, iPads, desks, textbooks, or even teachers could be used in place of them. The purchase price does not include maintenance or teacher trainings either! During class last week, a video was shown about a college student making his own IWB using a wii remote. If a teacher is passionate about IWBs, he or she could easily make one for themselves; the alternatives are endless!



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3 responses to “Interactive Whiteboards: innovation for the future or a revamp of the past?

  1. Nice work researching for this post. I think you hit on the biggest point – there are other options. Many times districts want to get on the latest thing with east results – face it, many of us like the latest and greatest shiny tech toy. But there other options out there that may be just as effective and more efficient.

  2. Melissa, I absolutely agree with your post. IWB are limiting student’s learning rather than enhancing it. As you mentioned in your post, students are ALREADY overwhelmed with their own personal forms of technology (cell phones, computers, etc), and IWB do not provide a “step up” to education. Rather, it keeps students and teachers stagnant in one method of providing information. Great post!

  3. Great post Melissa, I feel you made some very important points that every teacher should think about. How are we as educators interacting and engaging our students? After we introduce a topic, how do we model what to do and finally how do we assess what was learned? I think it is unfortunate to use only the IWB as the only means to present and assess learning. Learning is definitely a two way interaction and student involvement is necessary and cannot be accomplished with just an interactive whiteboard.

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