ISTE’s Tech & Learning recently posted a blog by ed-tech expert, Gary Stager, which began with the sentence, “IWBs [Interactive Whiteboards] and their clicker spawn are a terrible investment that breathes new life into medieval educational practices.” As you can imagine, this led to quite a debate in the comments section. Economic value, pedagogy, and even the history of chalkboards is currently in dispute.
In the postings, both sides share valid points about whether to “get” or ” use” IWBs. Both share valid, even moving, anecdotal stories. Both strongly take a side on the value or lack thereof of. And interestingly enough, both Gary Stager and primary counterpoint commentator, Alan November, were the keynote speakers at the last two Best Practice Summer Conferences for our charter school.
Yet, at my school (like many in the Tech & Learning audience), we’re not considering getting IWBs. We already have them. I’ve had a SMARTBoard in my classroom for the last six years and have enjoyed having access to the tool. In his post, Stager takes issue with common comments used to support IWBs – like “The students are so engaged!” and “It all depends on how teachers use it.” Seems like those who agree with him recommend sticking to a laptop and projector, basically the IWB user’s current set-up sans IWB.
So, this begs the question: What are teachers/students doing with Interactive Whiteboards that they could NOT do with just a laptop and projector?
And for those of us who already have them, what Best Practices have we discovered that will ensure we both get the most value out of this technology tool AND truly engage students in worthwhile learning experiences?