Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wasting Money of Whiteboards? Maybe a bit.

Donna just linked a post by Bill Ferriter (a principal) titled Wasting Money on Whiteboards.  In it Bill talks about how interactive white boards (IWB's) don't really change student learning.  They just allow teachers to do a better job of teaching they way they always have.  An IWB usually does not lead to a pedagogical change en education.  He is probably right (and his rant takes a familiar tone.)  One of my favorite comments talk about how the IWB is a great PR tool that a teacher can use without every really having to move their teaching out of traditional methods.

Here is the comment I posted there (I just felt like sharing it.)

I have used both a DIY interactive whiteboard and a genuine SMARTboard. While I love using both of them I would hesitate to call to use the word interactive for either of them. My students really don't use them any differently than they would a traditional chalkboard. The hardest lesson I had to learn was to hand off the pen to the students.

That being said was the IWB a waste of money for my classroom? No I don't think so. It has not fundamentally changed the way that I teach. It HAS changed how students can access what I have taught. I now record and publish (to the internet) much of what I teach. Take a look at my section of our school website at . The IWB allows me to capture the lessons and make them available to our chronically absent students. The IWB allows me to create content that I could not easily do otherwise. It allows me to do a better job of a traditional method of teaching. (Yes I know traditional methods are not always the best).

That being said, I moved classrooms this year and my SMARTboard took over a month to follow me. Really, my teaching style never changed with or without it. I just was unable to record more content.


Rob Wall said...

I'd say your use of the IWB is a great demonstration of the value of traditional school-based pedagogy being enhanced by the technology.The bottom line question is "Are your students learning?". Assuming the answer is yes (and I've no reason to assume otherwise), the followup question is "Is the technology you use helping them?". It sounds like it is. That being the case, I think that they (IWBs) aren't a waste of money although they may not produce the results that marketing departments claim.

Bill Ferriter said...

Hey Gary,

I'd agree with Rob---your work to record lessons for your students is spot on and an example of a great instructional use of technology.

The only hitch for me is that you can do that without whiteboards! I use a program called Camtasia to record my lessons.

And by all means, keep experimenting with whiteboards in your teaching. I have no doubt that teachers CAN find a way to make them worthwhile. What I question is the decision by districts to invest in whiteboards for every teacher.

That's just wasted cash.

Any of this make sense?

Gary Ball said...

Bill, I use Jing (Camtasia's little brother). I do still need the whiteboard as the input device. Any of the videos I created could be done on a tablet PC instead but the notes need to be done on a IWB because I create them during class - not beforehand. It is kind of like photographing each chalkboard after an example.

Rob, are my students learning? Do I have to answer that question? If you go back and read some of my posts you will can find some definite frustration. Is what I am doing working? Well, you can take a look at my video view counts, the numbers are not as good as I expected. I suspect that they would be used more if my students were not mostly on dialup. My videos are being used by other students from other areas. Students outside of our division, in other words not funded by our division.