The studies on effectiveness of IWB vary over the past ten years. On the one hand, the IWB’s possibility for multiple representations, and of course, the novelty factor of this technology, make it an excellent learning tool for students of mathematics. On the other hand, the research has found that if valuable professional learning is not present, then the use of the IWB tends to not be so effective in terms of learning impact for students.
According to the research, “IWBs are timesavers during class, but their effective use requires more preparation time in order to develop expertise.”
Dale and I have seen this as we prepare to use IWBs next year. Several” hiccups” come to mind:
First, Ordering and Set-Up… hours have been spent researching which one to buy, and how to actually order it and have it installed according to our Board purchasing and work order procedures.
Learning to use the IWB is another challenge… just like integrating the overhead projector into my repertoire when all I was used to was a chalkboard and chart paper, learning to use this new tool will be both revolutionary and frustrating, I am sure!
The first step for us was introduction: Jim Cash, our IT Resource Person, did a workshop for our staff on a PD day. Next I arranged with Dale – who had already mucked around with it a bit – to spend some time with me at lunch one day to show me a few basic things. Then, we organized two TLLP half days to meet with Jim 2:1 and have a little tutorial, first to set up a series of mini lessons for oral language, and then to explore both options for student use of the IWB as a basic skills consolidator and to brainstorm ideas for its use as a tool for bansho (those meetings are next week).
Planning the IWB lessons will require some focussed learning… not unlike effective PPT presentations, which I now love to use because they are so visual for students and so “easy” to teach from, but which take forever to put together, planning these Smart Notebook thingies (I am sure I will learn the proper terminology soon, once the above points are implemented) will doubtless take AGES!!! That being said, once they are set up, they will be much easier to use a second time around, assuming we teach a similar grade level in subsequent years.
Another point this monograph addresses, and one which our ITRT has pointed out a number of times, is that “Student use of the IWB is critically important.” If we don’t set our lessons and the IWB itself up in a way that it can be used by students, then it becomes nothing more than a glorified chalkboard. Further, the monograph notes, the ways in which students use IWBs differ from conventional teacher use.
I am trying to envision this, and am having some trouble, largely because we have really only seen them in use as slightly “enhanced” screens or whiteboards, or what the monograph refers to as “non-dynamic presentation tools”.
The monograph states:
The table on page three of the monograph is particularly helpful in illustrating some specific ways teachers and students can use and IWB as both a presentation tool and a dynamic thinking tool. Wouldn’t it be great if some of these examples were linked to videos of classrooms actually using the IWB in this way??!!
One suggestion that holds promise is the idea to use the IWB as a centre during math lessons, a station at which to solve math problems, along with chart paper and markers at a desk or a bin of manipulatives on the carpet. So, the IWB becomes another tool for students. The challenge in our classes will be management, i.e. how to ensure that all students have a turn each week. The monograph agrees that “Student use of the IWB requires careful management of the classroom learning environment, particularly when some students are using the IWB while others are working at their desks”, but of course, it doesn’t offer practical solutions to the eternal classroom management challenge!
Another disappointment of this monograph is that it does not really address the use of IWBs with Bansho as a way of teaching. I can’t help but wonder, is it realistic to integrate the two? Have we created a project bound to fail?
Again, I feel the need to muck around with this new technology – but when, WHEN?! I worry that the time it will take to develop the expertise to become an effective, efficient user of the IWB will exceed the time allowed in this project, and/or that other program areas will suffer while I “train myself” in using this new tool. A next step for me will be to visit Trent Mathematics Education Research Collective's website and find out more about how the IWB is being used effectively in specific classrooms. Perhaps we can contact the author of this monograph to arrange a visit to observe in another classroom, since that seems to garner the most practical ideas for me so far.
I am also wondering if it might be imortant for me to begin slowly and carefully, to focus on solidifying my understandin and competence in the use of the IWB as a presentation tool first, and then as I become more comfortable with this new technology, to then further explore the "dynamic thinking tool" application. Not a very popular option, perhaps, and likely in contradiction with Covey's "begin as you mean to go on" and "begin with the end in mind" philosophies that I generally subscribe to, but on the other hand, I am feeling TOTALLY OVERWHELMED right now, lol!!!