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.