At first, I was intimidated by my interactive whiteboard, and I truthfully didn’t know what I was supposed to do with this very expensive piece of technology that taunted me from its place in the front of my classroom. Now, after having used it for several years, I’ve spent some time reflecting on how it’s changed my teaching. In many ways, it’s impacted my lessons in exactly the way I expected it to, such as allowing me to integrate multimedia content and to easily differentiate activities. But some other things I’ve learned have come as a surprise. Here is a roundup of seven unexpected truths that I’ve discovered about my interactive whiteboard.

I Still Don’t Know Everything About It, and I Probably Never Will

Last summer I was lucky enough to participate in some professional development about using the interactive whiteboard. I was shocked by how much I didn’t know. How could I have been using something for so long and still know so little about it? I realized that I could continue to increase my IWB’s usability by participating in regular professional development, because new tools are continually being added to the technology. With the rate at which technology reinvents itself, I realize that I’ll never be able to stop learning it.

It’s Not a Giant Projector

I’ve been learning to make better use of software like Gynzy to integrate all of my multimedia content and interactive classroom activities. Previously, upon arriving in my classroom in the morning, I frantically scrambled to get all of my applications open before class started. I’ve learned that I wasn’t effectively using the technology to put all of the components of my lesson together into a file that I could not only save and easily access during class, but that I could also share with my colleagues.

Your Students Love It as Much as You Do

Kids love to play games, and of course they love to be entertained. Many researchers have studied the impact of educational technology on student engagement and motivation and have concluded that it’s definitely beneficial for all kinds of students. But you probably already recognize that your students are more likely to spend time on tasks that they otherwise would have avoided if you allow them to work collaboratively at the smart board. And they’ll even continue to work at these tasks when they return to their seats. I even recently read an article about a fifth grader who saved up all her money to buy a smart board for her room at home. Also, students with special needs enjoy having alternatives to paper and pencil assessments to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. The interactive whiteboard gives some students the chance to participate in learning opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have had, and to feel more successful in school.

It Makes Your Students More Social

The interactive activities allow students to work together at solving problems and connecting with the content. They’re required to communicate with each other, and in the process they find common ground and develop relationships.

You Can Become a Certified Trainer

Some manufacturers of interactive whiteboards and educational software for the IWB offer education programs that let you become a certified technician or trainer. If you’re finding that the technology really interests you and other teachers often come to you for advice, consider finding out more about certification possibilities.

There Are Other Similar Tools Besides the Wall-Mounted Board

The technology is expanding to include all different kinds of learners. Besides the familiar wall-mounted board, manufacturers are creating other products like collaborative tables for pre K–3 learners. These young students can learn together on a multitouch, multiuser table that’s been designed just for them.

What unexpected truths have you discovered about your interactive whiteboard?