My fellow teachers told me a lot of different things when I got an interactive whiteboard put into my classroom. “You’ll love it,” a young teacher said, “It’s a great timesaver.”

“I’m not really sure how to use mine.” An older teacher confided.

“Your students will love the games you can play on it.” Another teacher offered. I accepted all this information in stride, but it wasn’t until I had used mine for an entire school year that I realized how inadequate the description was.

Lifestyles have changed a lot in the last half-century, with the advent of new technologies and ways to communicate, but education has only barely begun to keep up with the wave of technological advances that have swept everyday life. Interactive whiteboards are one of the best tools we have for keeping classroom education technologically relevant to students who are growing ever more sophisticated in their uses of advanced technologies. As a society, we can’t keep pretending that our students can learn all they need to know from textbooks, and then show their knowledge with a pencil and paper. Students need to see and use a great variety of technology in the classroom to become tech-savvy adults. Modern education means learning how to build websites and understand the basic mechanics of computer programming. It means producing young scholars with enough expertise in science and technology that employers are no longer forced to look outside of the country for students with a sufficient technology background. It means no longer talking about interactive whiteboards as a luxury for a teacher. It means acknowledging that this teaching tool is a vital one, one that each child deserves to see used properly in their classroom.

And if we can do that, then we begin to see the payoff. We can see students from all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses display the technical skills needed in today’s job market. When I talk about my interactive whiteboard now, I say it’s a necessity. It’s something all students deserve to have in their classrooms.