Using an interactive whiteboard can enrich the classroom environment for teachers as well as students. But there are common pitfalls that, until now, nobody will tell you about. Teachers who are just learning how to use the technology might benefit from these five pointers about little known factors that will affect your interactive whiteboard lesson.
1. Arranging Your Classroom Space
It’s important to properly set up your classroom to get the most out of your interactive whiteboard. Arrange the room so that there is enough space to walk in front of and around the board, and to easily reach all parts of the screen. Also, think about the height of your students, and hang your board at a height that most students can easily reach. Install external, wall-mounted speakers to let sound carry well in the classroom. Lastly, a wireless keyboard will let you easily annotate presentations without walking back and forth to your computer.
2. Legible and Visually Appealing Presentations
Give careful thought to the visual appearance of your presentations so your students will be able to easily view them from anywhere in the classroom. Check things like the size and readability of the font before the lesson begins. Large fonts like Arial and Comic Sans are easy to see from the back of the classroom. Also, pale, pastel background colors are generally more legible than white, and black backgrounds with white or yellow text work well in rooms with sun glare. Reduce visual clutter on your documents by limiting text to one or two paragraphs per page. You’ll not only leave enough room for annotations, but you also won’t have to scroll up and down during the presentation.
3. Keep Your Files Well-Organized
Help your students to create a sensible, easily remembered protocol for naming and organizing digital files. Guide them to give their files suitable names and to properly organize them on the network drive. This way, students will be able to easily retrieve files they need for independent work or for studying.
4. Avoid Damaging Your Board’s Screen
It’s easy to damage the screen by poking it with a pen, or by writing on it with dry-erase or permanent markers. If you poke the screen too hard, the two layers of material in the screen will get stuck together, causing your cursor to remain fixed at that point. Gently wiping debris off the board might help, as will rubbing a small circle around the area with your fingertips. If this doesn’t work, affix a piece of tape to the area, and then tug it off to gently pull the two surfaces apart. If you write on the screen, turn the whiteboard off before you clean it. The longer the ink stays on the surface, the harder it will be to remove, so do something to clean it off as quickly as possible. Contrary to what you might think, glass cleaner or ordinary dry-erase board cleaning products will not only be ineffective at removing the ink, but they’ll also stain your screen’s surface. Instead, simply use a damp sponge with some mild soap or baking soda, and the ink should come off fairly easily.
5. Make Sure Your Whiteboard is Properly Connected
Display problems are often caused by improper connections, and it’s easier than you might think to fix this. First of all, power-on your whiteboard system and connect the cables before you turn on your computer, otherwise your computer won’t recognize the board. When your board is ready to use, it will flash a steady green light, but a red light means the board is not connected to your computer. If you’ve connected everything correctly and your board is still not working, then make sure the driver software for the hardware has been correctly installed on your computer.
These are some of the tips I’ve learned over the years of using my interactive whiteboard. If you’re new to the technology, I hope you can benefit from my experience. What issues have you experienced with your interactive whiteboard that have affected your lessons? You can share them in the comments below.