Monday, September 22, 2014

Summary: Affordances of Interactive Whiteboards and Associated Pedagogical Practices: Perspectives of Teachers of Science with Children Aged 5-6 Years
This article was written about a study of Kindergarten and First Grade teachers in Australia who taught Science.  The researchers obtained interviews with all participating teachers and ensured that all have used SMART Boards or ACTIVboards in their classes for at least 3 years.  The teachers also all expressed a confidence with the software of one of these boards, to some extent.  The authors focused on three pedagogic practices with this study: Supported Didactic, Integrated Interactive Activities, and Guided Assessment.  
The teachers found the Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) first as engaging tools to hook their lessons.  The easiest way to do this, was to treat the IWB as a screen or whiteboard substitute.  Teachers show slideshows or some sort of presentation tool to show slides, web pages and images or videos to attract students’ attention.  Secondly, teachers used the IWB to all their students to interact with the technology.  This usually involves dragging and dropping or responding to what is on the board in another way.  Finally, assessments can be accomplished with IWBs as well.  Although much assessment must be done independently to show knowledge, reflection can be done using this interactive tool.  Students can display their work and annotate their thoughts about it as well, in order to learn from their experience and make improvements for next time.  
There are positives and negatives for using IWBs in a classroom.  For example, this technology facilitates whole-class discussions and offers a medium for sharing ideas, but if the classroom is not designed correctly, as in the location of the board, then student visibility and engagement can be hindered.  Secondly, text, sound, video, and graphics can be shown at the same time to provide better explanations, but if a teacher has subpar troubleshooting skills, or the school is lacking technical support, then the information can get delayed or disrupted easily.  Lastly, teachers are able to use the technology to have more face to face time in front of their students instead of behind a computer screen, but if they are lacking technical training or confidence the technology is much less effective.

I have been interested in the use of IWBs for quite some time now; mostly I think, because I don’t have one, but other teachers in my school do.  To be honest, I was not surprised by any of the findings in this article, and found the results very true to my experiences around this technology.  I think that the biggest thing I can take away from this is that any technology in school buildings needs to be supported.  Teachers need support while using it, and the technology support and attention from professionals to ensure that it’s working properly.  When these two things are lacking, the effectiveness of the technology is greatly hindered.  

Teck, W. (2013). Affordances of Interactive Whiteboards and Associated Pedagogical  Practices: Perspectives of Teachers of Science with Children Aged Five to Six Years.  Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 12(1), 1-8.

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