Picture this: a teacher is getting ready for kindergarten circle time. She pulls up the calendar widget on her interactive whiteboard so that her students can see the day and date. She puts different pictures of facial expressions up so students can choose one to show how they are feeling today. She finds and links an internet video with a song that practices counting by twos, to support the math objective for the day. Finally, she puts a fun snowman-building game at the end of her presentation so her students can play the game while talking about the winter season.
This scene plays out in classrooms across the country, at all different grade and subject levels. Interactive whiteboards are not only time and energy saving devices for teachers but they also make lessons more impactful and meaningful for students. Teachers have more time to spend planning lessons and students retain information better with an interactive whiteboard in the classroom. Can you imagine a world without classroom interactive whiteboards?
Teachers would have far less time on their hands without interactive whiteboards because they would have to spend more time preparing physical materials for lessons. Our kindergarten teacher from the beginning of the article would have to find or make a calendar, facial expression pictures, a snowman game and track down a cd with a counting by twos song. Our kindergarten teacher could spend hours making all these materials, and another hour laminating it so it can be used continually. Then she’ll have to find a convenient place to store all these materials in the classroom so that she can use them each day. That’s thirty minutes of putting together an interactive whiteboard presentation versus 4 or 5 hours creating and finding storage space for the materials.
Without interactive whiteboards, it’s harder to incorporate multimedia into lessons. An interactive whiteboard in the classroom does the job of a CD player, projector, television, computer, and DVD player. Not only does it do the work of 5 machines in one, but to incorporate a video, song, and a picture into a lesson, teachers would need a DVD, a CD and the original image. Then, they would have to stop and use three different devices in their lesson. Chances of a technical difficulty increase threefold, and students lose attention as teachers transition from lesson to multimedia component.
Games as a learning tool have a long history of effectiveness in the classroom. Unfortunately, without an interactive whiteboard, teachers need many different computers or tablets in the room so that multiple students can access online educational games. Many classrooms don’t have these kinds of technological resources, so students end up unable to learn through fun and interactive games and teachers rely on workbooks as a teaching tool instead. Students can’t see an example of how to play the game, or benefit from teacher explanation to the whole group while playing the game without an interactive whiteboard in the room.
Technological competency is a huge issue in current educational practice. Students have to graduate from school with the technological skills necessary to compete in an increasingly computer-driven employment marketplace. Schools without interactive whiteboards are missing a crucial piece of technology education for their students. Students don’t get the opportunity to see daily slideshow presentations, to interact with a variety of different media types and to prepare and share different presentations of their own. They miss the chance just to see and become comfortable with current technology in their own classroom.
Interactive whiteboards are an easy way to engage student attention and make lessons that are naturally more engaging and interesting. Student engagement is one of the biggest factors in student skill acquisition and retention. Without interactive whiteboards in the classroom, teachers have to work much harder to keep student engagement high. With teacher workloads constantly increasing, it’s harder and harder for teachers to find the time to plan those lessons and make the materials. Interactive whiteboards streamline that process, and make it possible for teachers to plan highly engaging lessons in a manner respectful of their valuable time.
It seems obvious that interactive whiteboards should be a classroom staple. They save valuable time, increase student engagement, and create a classroom of technologically competent students. The teaching world without them is bleak place, full of stressed-out, short-on-time teachers struggling to keep student engagement high and build technological competent students. It’s easy to see that an interactive whiteboard is an important educational investment.