IWB (Interactive White Board)

Blackboards, the most central part of a teachers arsenal of tools for teaching, has always been associated with the ‘traditional’ teaching methods of ‘Teacher Centred Learning’ – better known as Chalk and Talk’ and ‘Sage on the Stage’ Learning.

The Interactive White Board (IWB) has certainly changed the view of the blackboard or whiteboard as the most mundane of the classroom techniques of teaching.


IWB as a pedagogical tool

The aim of any teacher is to provide a classroom which maximises learning for all students.

If I was presenting a lesson for Year 9 History on ‘Gallipoli – the First World War’, the IWB could be used during the lesson to achieve a number of goals.

Open up the lesson. I could use the IWB to display classroom rules at the start of the lesson. I could also use the IWB to gain students attention by playing videos or audio clips, such as youtube videos embedded in the hyperlinks. 

The IWB could be used to write down ideas and key concepts for students. In class discussions in which students were encouraged to provide their feedback, i would invite students to come to the IWB to write down their ideas or views. This would encourage students to take part in their own learning as well as keep students motivated.

Students could also use the IWB as part of group work or individual presentations. As a teacher, I would encourage students to do group presentations and then to come up and show their presentations on the IWB.  For example, if students did a presentation on Gallipoli – the Anzac Legend, students could use the IWB to display videos, audio aides such as podcasts. This would help make the lesson and learning experience ‘interactive’ for students.

The IWB also allows quick access to the internet. This would allow me to click on interactive websites on Gallipoli such as the ABC 3D Website. I could also access videos on Youtube and the National Archives to display videos and audio clips to students on Gallipoli.http://www.abc.net.au/innovation/gallipoli/

After displaying videos and audios, i would then go into either individual or group activities. On the IWB, i would display tasks for each to group to go through.

To conclude the lesson, i would use the IWB for a general class discussion and provide students with a summary of the lesson.

The Benefits of using the IWB

The benefits of using the Interactive White Board (IWB) are summed up well by J.Gage in the 2006 article ‘How to use an Interactive Whiteboard really Efficiently in your secondary classroom’. Gage believes that ‘Lessons in which an IWB is used generally enable teachers to spend more time engaged with the students’.

One of the benefits is that students liked the large images and the visual emphasis that the IWB encourages. In classrooms still using the ‘Whiteboards’ this is particularly true.  I have witnessed several maths classes requiring the drawing of diagrams and equations which when drawn on the old ‘whiteboards’ were particularly hard to read. Providing information and images which students can easily read and therefore understand is important in the classroom.

The IWB would help teachers to provide for Differentiation. As we know, not all students learn the same. Some students learn best through visual aides such as videos or images. Other students learn best through audio aides. Some students are visually impaired, while other students may have hearing difficulties. Some students are also from non english backgrounds. Reaching out to all students, called Differentiation, is the goal of the teacher.

The IWB caters for Differentiation by allowing the teacher to display visual and audio aides such as videos, images, photos, texts, sounds such as podcasts.

The main benefit of the IWB is that it engages students in the learning. Not only does the IWB allow for the teacher to display videos, audios, images, the internet, but its a great way to involve the students in the learning by having them use the IWB.  Students can use the IWB in presentations by displaying images, videos, audio. But students will also be more encouraged to participate in discussions and come to the IWB and to ‘have a go at the board’.

Lessons in which IWB is used generally enable teachers to spend more time engaged with students and results in less time wasted when students not on task

Problems with IWB and ICT

Like any ICT tool, the IWB are a great tool for learning. As discussed above, the IWB has many benefits to offer teachers and students. 

However, the tool is only as good as the person using it.  This definetly applies to the IWB – as with any ICT tool. 

The centre of the classroom is the teacher, whether that be in a Teacher directed learning or in a Teacher facilitator role in Constructivist or Student Centered Learning.

There are many factors which contribute to an effective classroom where learning takes place. Any teacher can put up slides, videos, audios on a IWB. But does that mean that learning is taking place? On class immersion, i witnessed a Mathematics class of Year 10 students (regarded as low achievers) become unruly and distracted in a classroom. But it was the force of the personality of the teacher that kept the students on task and learning. Can an IWB Board do that?

In his article on “pedagogy’ and the use of ICT, Gage gives us two scenarios. The first scenario, a maths class, the teacher uses ICT, to engage the class and provide for different activities. In the Second scenario, a History class, the teacher does not have access to IWB but had to rely on worksheets for the students to use.  In this scenario, some students had finished the activity early and talked while they waited while ‘Others lost interest’. That is a situation which could indeed be a real life scenario. But would Gage have us believe that IWB and ICT is the answer to keeping students on task, motivated and occupied?

ICT is a tool for teaching – it is not the teacher and in no way can ICT replace the role of the teacher. One of the dangers that i see in ICT is when technology becomes a ‘baby sitter’ for students rather than as a ‘tool’ for teaching.  J.Gage notes that ‘If the IWB is used for long periods of direct instruction then teaching style should be reconsidered’. 

This is a very good point. Using the IWB to play videos, audios, access internet to provide information should not be allowed to take the place of the teacher in the classroom. No teacher should soley rely on the use of ICT to teach students.

Also i wonder about how IWB and other ICT in the classroom would cater for students with special learning abilitites? I understand that IWB’s are a great tool for ‘Differentiation’. But exactly how far does IWB’s go when it comes to students with learning difficulties?

My thoughts

I support any tool, ICT such as the IWB, which assists teachers to help students learn.

But i am very cautious about the use of ICT being promoted to such an extent where it is believed that the teacher plays a secondary role in the classroom to the ICT.

For teaching to be effective, Teacher and ICT must work together.

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