In our first lesson for Information and Communication technologies we were introduced to the technology of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs). We learnt some of the features of IWBs and watched demonstrations in our tutorials.
The IWB was introduced as a current pedagogical tool in which teachers can use to cater for a range of learning and teaching styles; supporting visual, auditory and kinaesthetic engagement (Gage, 2006). In the lecture we brainstormed about the ability of using computers and information technologies to enhance students learning. Computers especially provide students with access to a range of sources and perspectives that contribute to a wider field of knowledge. They also allow teachers to extend learning away from school, assisting in the completion of homework and comprehension of different topics. For example a teacher could give students a link to a game on the Australian Gold Rush to play on the weekend. Whilst this would still be a simple and fun task it would also enhance students understanding of the content they are studying.
IWBs allow teachers to enhance the effectiveness and interactivity of their lessons. Website such as The Learning Federation and Promethean Plantet are sites easily accessible to students that offer a myriad of learning objects including flipcharts, games, sound and video files categorized under subjects and year groups that teachers can download. These learning objects are usually highly engaging and subject-specific. They are a fun way of supporting the content that needs to be covered in a lesson.
The IWB supports a range of learning styles, especially visual. They easily present and allow you to create graphs, diagrams, pictures and mind maps. The efficiency of the IWB increases the pace of the lesson and the large screens increase student’s ability to focus (Gage, 2006.)
In the tutorial we learnt how to make flipcharts. Flipcharts are like an interactive presentation presented on IWB. The teacher creates or downloads a flipchart, which is specific to the lesson they are teaching. There are a range of skills within flipcharts that can be used on the IWB including embedding objects into the presentation. We were taught some of these skills and had an opportunity to practice them individually. The skills included:
- Simple rub and reveal
- Simple containers
- Advanced rub and reveal (magic ink)
- Bouncing containers
We were encouraged to download the very useful ActivInspire software.
I really enjoyed learning these new skills and from my first encounter with IWBs I could see how useful they would be to my teaching. I am really excited to use them in more challenging ways.
Gage (2006) states that the IWB enables teachers to learn with the student. Therefore the teacher’s role changes. Many educators have commented that the technology is allowed to be the expert, and although it does not take control, and the teacher is always the instructor, it allows the students and teacher to make discoveries, learn new information together. I believe that this can be quite liberating for students, especially for lower ability, or lower confidence students. Certain skills of the IWB allow the teacher to set the parameters so it tells the students if they are correct and they gain confidence. With a simple tool like sorting words into a noun or verb category with a bounce back tool, the IWB tells them if they are correct or not and the teacher can step in and support the learning by discussing why and how that is incorrect.
I would use the IWB in my classroom for whole class teaching and with small groups. I believe it nurtures risk-taking behaviour because students can actively ‘have a go’, and hence there is more interaction and confidence. Teacher’s have also noted that the use of IWBs support the social environment (Kent, 2007) of the classroom and studies have shown that it has reduced some social issues in some students (Gage, 2006).
The IWB is such a diverse technology. It can be used as a computer, a whiteboard and an interactive whiteboard. I think I would predominantly use it to model to the children and get the children involved in the modelling process. I would also use it for labelling, puzzle and sorting and ordering/sequencing activities (Kent, 2007).
Educators suggest it be used at the beginning and end of lesson especially (Gage, 2006), but some people have said it does not give students the much-needed opportunity to work individually or in small groups actively in their own learning. Therefore I believe a balance must be reached when using the IWB. It must be used as a tool to enable individual learning, and not at the expense of it in order to allow for a richer integration of knowledge.
Graphics and Images
Using graphics and images such as the image of the IWB above supports the logical-mathematical and visual-spatial learning styles learning styles. Children view graphics and are visually stimulated and make connections to the visual cues the see and the meaning behind the image.
Graphics and images are a highly effective tool to use in classrooms to aid the learning process because they engage students and portray meaning in a simple and appealing form. They enhance the comprehension of content by giving the students a visual summary or cue. By implemented various images into lessons and the classroom setting, children can develop their understanding of how meaning can be portrayed visually. This develops their creativity because they can then use this tool in their own learning to represent ideas, concepts and opinions. It is another medium for transmitting information and meaning in which children can adopt and learn about the conventions of colour, spatial relations, form and shape.
Gage, J. (2006). How to use the Interactive Whiteboards really effectively in your secondary classroom. London: David Fulton Publishers, Pages 17-30.
Handal, B. (2011). Information Technology for Teaching and Learning. PowerPoint presentation from The University of Notre Dame Sydney ED4134 Lecture
Kent, P. (2007). Promoting Intellectual Quality with an IWB: Teacher Professional Development Course Notes. Paper presented at Latrobe University