Saturday, May 28, 2011

Switching off the interactive white board for good

IWB's have had their day. I personally can't see any future for them in classrooms and the sooner schools stop buying into them the sooner the money can be spent on better educationally interactive tools.
The hype surrounding these boards is what makes removing them from classrooms difficult. Many teachers will reel in shock if they were told that their IWB will be removed but if you ask them what they really use the board for, you will discover that it in general, they use it just like a normal white board except they can 'put the internet on it'. Occasionally you will meet those in teaching who use their boards as an interactive learning tool, creating content that engages their class. But this is not the norm. Most schools will have older IWB's which only allow one user at a time, if you want real interaction you need to upgrade the board and that costs a lot of money especially if you are looking to upgrade the whole school.
Training is also a cost factor - yes there are plenty of freely available videos that show you how to do everything you need to know but many teachers will not spend the time to watch them and most prefer face to face training. These sessions are fantastic and leave teachers feeling inspired but within a couple of months the training has been forgotten and many return to their original 'putting the internet on it' usage. And if you have Promethean boards then you also have the additional cost of replacing Interactive pens which have a habit of breaking quickly.

I asked my class what they thought about IWB's and this is what most of the responses were
  • Never get to use it
  • Boring waiting for a turn
  • Fun when a small group use it
And when asked if they could spend the money on a new IWB or something else EVERYONE said something else. What was the something else? A range of devices that could be used anywhere - netbooks, iPads, iPod Touch devices, Nintendo DS devices. My class reiterated that these devices allowed more interaction than an IWB and that is hard to disagree with. If I wanted to buy a fully interactive multi-touch multi-user IWB I would need approx £2000! For the same price I could buy one of the following:
  • 5 iPad (2nd generation) devices
  • 13 iPod Touch devices
  • 9 Netbook's
  • 21 Nintendo DS lite devices
  • A lot of Art material
  • Class sets of reading books
The IWB is a tool that has had it's day and it's time to take a bow. So long IWB, it's time to be switched off for good.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Apple Distinguished Educator

During the first weekend of this month I attended the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Event in London along with just over 80 other educators from all over Europe. We spent 3 days in the hands of representatives from Apple Education who led the event and other ADE’s who came to guide us and present their work and research to us so that we too could start our own journey as an ADE.

Being an ADE involves 4 primary roles – advocate, advisor, author and ambassador. Each is connected to our relationship with Apple and the devices we use in our teaching and learning.

Advocate – passionate users of Apple technologies and able to present to others how to use these tools in education
Advisor – feedback to Apple how these technologies influence education
Author – publish examples of work using Apple technologies for others to learn from and use
Ambassador – build global communities to “expand the walls of the classroom”

Expanding the walls of the classroom was a theme that resonated throughout the event and we were given opportunities to explore this, bouncing ideas off each other and creating the basis of a collaborative project that we will be working on over the next few months. I will be looking at how we can give a voice to the learner and bring the learner back to the forefront of what education is all about. I have already posted a ‘in30seconds’ tip about this which involves setting up a video diary space for children to feel comfortable to go into and leave a video comment of their learning throughout the day. Making this a global project is the challenge. There are other projects that I was interested in and one in particular which is very exciting (but I’ll leave that under wraps for now).

The 4 primary roles are roles that I have also considered bringing into my classroom. Children could choose a role that would best fit the skills they have, for example, in Technology I could have:
advocates are passionate about technology and can demonstrate its use to others
advisors share why technology works for them and how it can help others
authors publish their own content for others to use and learn from
ambassadors build the community in school using a website and share this to the world, looking for new ways to collaborate and expand the classroom.

The event was a fantastic opportunity to build on my own community of educators, share ideas and gain a better understanding of how others are using Apple technologies in their own environments and I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to attend.
Read more about being an ADE here