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Interactive Whiteboards - a few thoughts by a grass root.

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by cremeegg, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. cremeegg

    cremeegg New commenter

    Hi all
    In response to a few posts I have read around and about on the subject of interactive whiteboards, which discussed their usefulness, I thought I would give a few thoughts.I have undergone training on their use and I have cobbled together a few points. Overall, I am not against them. But I wouldn’t buy one for every classroom if I ruled the world.
    • <li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal"><li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is useful to project with - but the screen is smaller than projecting onto a trad whiteboard<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is useful to be able to write on what you are projecting - but again you have less space than on a tradboard.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">You can create presentation files with music and photos / images which is good but a little laborious if you want something really flashy, however it is good to build up a few staples for things you will revisit again and again. I spent a lunch hour giggling to myself as I created a slide with a T-Rex, speech bubbling "Your homework is XYZ - due Monday - Or I will EAT YOU!!". My hard nut year 9 head bangers were in fits of laughter.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">You can pull down a "blind" to reveal parts of the screen at a time - which can be done longhand with a bit of paper over half of your OHT - but cannot really be achieved on a trad projector. I found this the most useful part of the system. However I have developed a technique of putting a big coloured box over my PPT page and dragging it down with the mouse when ready - of course you have to show the PPT in edit mode. Not a huge problem though really, and has the added bonus of being able to add to the page with kids' input / making corrections.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I find that the most frustrating thing is being unable to make smartboard files at home as my home computer does not have the correct software. At least PPT is pretty universal.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">You can darken the screen and have a spotlight on it to highlight just a small area. Cute but you need to know where the things are that you've hidden. The lady that presented this used it as a way to highlight particular lines of text, but you can do this on a trad projector using other methods.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I find that the pens do not write terribly neatly - not as neatly as with a tradboard, and the felt ends go flat over time (overzealous kids). Also the writing is harder to read - but I love the fact that you can move handwritten text around the screen.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The pens can write up to three quarters of an inch away from where you are touching the board with the physical pen. You have to re-calibrate the board which does not take long but my board was never really completely in-sync. The more doddery your board, the quicker it goes out of line. This is frustrating if you want to go back to cross a 'T' !! Even underlining something become difficult.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">If you have the latest version of the software you can access loads of images to cut and paste - useful if your school's IT filters filter out everything - including - and I swear this happened in my Y7 class - a Google images search for 'Santa' on the basis that it was ****. However depending on your subject, this is more or less useful. I spent an hour browsing for images I could use in French lessons. Not much really. The odd thing - for example, body parts - it gave a smattering of items, but I did have to Google much of the rest, which was quicker anyway.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The board is ultimately another piece of IT equipment, which like computers, can 'go down'. I wasted 4 or 5 lessons during last year when the equipment stopped working - whether that be a fault with the board, the pens, the projector, my computer (which of course feeds it), an electrical fault, an internet issue (if I was accessing a website with the kids - such as the linguascope language games website, which does allow for interactive use and has got me out of a number of - oh my God my planned lesson has exploded, what can I do with these kids - moments.)<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The children seem to love original bits like the above dinosaur gimmick, but quickly it becomes the 'norm' as the novelty wears off, and that's essentially what it represents - a novelty that catches their attention.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is great to have kids come up to interact, but with a class of 32 (or 38, as my department colleagues endured last year): fights can break out at the screen; a queue of kids waiting to have their turn can block general view of the screen; rough kids (I don't mean chavvy, I mean not gentle with their smartboarding finger) can send it out of kilter; other kids can grow bored if they are not having a turn; the idea of having a turn can overtake the actual learning point; getting out of one's seat and tumbling past rows of desks make one-by-one turn taking lengthy; two fingers on the board at once give it brain-ache (so you have to police it vigilantly) - naughty kids enjoy interfering with their classmates' contributions in this way.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The training I received was great and laid on externally by the LA, but it was not subject specific. However, is it practical to lay on 15 subject specific trainings every year? (Or every time the software is updated?)<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I forgot a lot of the training within a month as I did not need to use it all immediately. I did make notes but you know how it is, you don't use it, you lose it.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The year before last I was in a school which had some classrooms using Promethian, some using Smart (which is what I have described so far in this post) and some using Starboard. The three systems are not the same.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I am now in a classroom which does not have a smartboard of any kind. I love the tradboard, and enjoy projecting onto it and then drawing all over it with a whiteboard pen. Kids can join in by using a whiteboard pen, and unlike a smartboard, you can only write with a pen, not with a finger, so it is easier to police.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is very useful to save a smartboard screen, however when I have filled my tradboard with loads of gorgeous verbs, I use another piece of technology, my camera phone to take a quick snap for my records.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">My current computer has the Smart software, so I can project Smart files - I just cannot interact with them aside from with the mouse. In this way I feel I have the best of both worlds - as I felt that with a smartboard I lost a lot of 'chalk space' on the main teaching wall as I had a 'smartie' and a small traddie.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I feel that the technology is oversold. Schools scramble to pay hundreds of pounds for them and then complain that they haven't money for books / new chairs. <li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Another example of the point immediately above - a rep came in to demonstrate (read - 'sell') a desk camera - you know, you pay 600 quid for a camera to film whatever document you put on the table in front of it. Our head of maths spoke passionately about the need to have one in every classroom. Please. I already had and use on a regular basis a 40 quid camera named Hue (nickname - Huey - as baptised by my colleague) which I picked up second hand on eBay (or was it Amazon) for 20 pounds. (And which I tried to recommend to the school as a cheaper alternative - but hey, who listens to the NQT?) Ok, so the focussing is not as sharp, so I have to move the document up more often to keep it in the field of focus, but for 20 quid, out of my own pocket (as if the school would pay!) I can save on photocopies (read, not get shouted at), show other kids' work for peer feedback and praise, use a basic one copy print-off and allow the whole class to be able to see it as I annotate it, model (you know, show them an example) and treat them to a quick pan around the class at the end of the lesson as they gurn and laugh.
    I hope you found my ramblings interesting reading. Sorry it was long, I just love to write. I hope to be a writer someday.
     
  2. cremeegg

    cremeegg New commenter

    Hi all
    In response to a few posts I have read around and about on the subject of interactive whiteboards, which discussed their usefulness, I thought I would give a few thoughts.I have undergone training on their use and I have cobbled together a few points. Overall, I am not against them. But I wouldn&rsquo;t buy one for every classroom if I ruled the world.
    • <li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal"><li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is useful to project with - but the screen is smaller than projecting onto a trad whiteboard<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is useful to be able to write on what you are projecting - but again you have less space than on a tradboard.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">You can create presentation files with music and photos / images which is good but a little laborious if you want something really flashy, however it is good to build up a few staples for things you will revisit again and again. I spent a lunch hour giggling to myself as I created a slide with a T-Rex, speech bubbling "Your homework is XYZ - due Monday - Or I will EAT YOU!!". My hard nut year 9 head bangers were in fits of laughter.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">You can pull down a "blind" to reveal parts of the screen at a time - which can be done longhand with a bit of paper over half of your OHT - but cannot really be achieved on a trad projector. I found this the most useful part of the system. However I have developed a technique of putting a big coloured box over my PPT page and dragging it down with the mouse when ready - of course you have to show the PPT in edit mode. Not a huge problem though really, and has the added bonus of being able to add to the page with kids' input / making corrections.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I find that the most frustrating thing is being unable to make smartboard files at home as my home computer does not have the correct software. At least PPT is pretty universal.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">You can darken the screen and have a spotlight on it to highlight just a small area. Cute but you need to know where the things are that you've hidden. The lady that presented this used it as a way to highlight particular lines of text, but you can do this on a trad projector using other methods.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I find that the pens do not write terribly neatly - not as neatly as with a tradboard, and the felt ends go flat over time (overzealous kids). Also the writing is harder to read - but I love the fact that you can move handwritten text around the screen.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The pens can write up to three quarters of an inch away from where you are touching the board with the physical pen. You have to re-calibrate the board which does not take long but my board was never really completely in-sync. The more doddery your board, the quicker it goes out of line. This is frustrating if you want to go back to cross a 'T' !! Even underlining something become difficult.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">If you have the latest version of the software you can access loads of images to cut and paste - useful if your school's IT filters filter out everything - including - and I swear this happened in my Y7 class - a Google images search for 'Santa' on the basis that it was ****. However depending on your subject, this is more or less useful. I spent an hour browsing for images I could use in French lessons. Not much really. The odd thing - for example, body parts - it gave a smattering of items, but I did have to Google much of the rest, which was quicker anyway.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The board is ultimately another piece of IT equipment, which like computers, can 'go down'. I wasted 4 or 5 lessons during last year when the equipment stopped working - whether that be a fault with the board, the pens, the projector, my computer (which of course feeds it), an electrical fault, an internet issue (if I was accessing a website with the kids - such as the linguascope language games website, which does allow for interactive use and has got me out of a number of - oh my God my planned lesson has exploded, what can I do with these kids - moments.)<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The children seem to love original bits like the above dinosaur gimmick, but quickly it becomes the 'norm' as the novelty wears off, and that's essentially what it represents - a novelty that catches their attention.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is great to have kids come up to interact, but with a class of 32 (or 38, as my department colleagues endured last year): fights can break out at the screen; a queue of kids waiting to have their turn can block general view of the screen; rough kids (I don't mean chavvy, I mean not gentle with their smartboarding finger) can send it out of kilter; other kids can grow bored if they are not having a turn; the idea of having a turn can overtake the actual learning point; getting out of one's seat and tumbling past rows of desks make one-by-one turn taking lengthy; two fingers on the board at once give it brain-ache (so you have to police it vigilantly) - naughty kids enjoy interfering with their classmates' contributions in this way.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The training I received was great and laid on externally by the LA, but it was not subject specific. However, is it practical to lay on 15 subject specific trainings every year? (Or every time the software is updated?)<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I forgot a lot of the training within a month as I did not need to use it all immediately. I did make notes but you know how it is, you don't use it, you lose it.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">The year before last I was in a school which had some classrooms using Promethian, some using Smart (which is what I have described so far in this post) and some using Starboard. The three systems are not the same.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I am now in a classroom which does not have a smartboard of any kind. I love the tradboard, and enjoy projecting onto it and then drawing all over it with a whiteboard pen. Kids can join in by using a whiteboard pen, and unlike a smartboard, you can only write with a pen, not with a finger, so it is easier to police.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">It is very useful to save a smartboard screen, however when I have filled my tradboard with loads of gorgeous verbs, I use another piece of technology, my camera phone to take a quick snap for my records.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">My current computer has the Smart software, so I can project Smart files - I just cannot interact with them aside from with the mouse. In this way I feel I have the best of both worlds - as I felt that with a smartboard I lost a lot of 'chalk space' on the main teaching wall as I had a 'smartie' and a small traddie.<li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">I feel that the technology is oversold. Schools scramble to pay hundreds of pounds for them and then complain that they haven't money for books / new chairs. <li style="line-height:normal;margin:0cm 0cm 10pt;color:black;tab-stops:list 36.0pt;" class="MsoNormal">Another example of the point immediately above - a rep came in to demonstrate (read - 'sell') a desk camera - you know, you pay 600 quid for a camera to film whatever document you put on the table in front of it. Our head of maths spoke passionately about the need to have one in every classroom. Please. I already had and use on a regular basis a 40 quid camera named Hue (nickname - Huey - as baptised by my colleague) which I picked up second hand on eBay (or was it Amazon) for 20 pounds. (And which I tried to recommend to the school as a cheaper alternative - but hey, who listens to the NQT?) Ok, so the focussing is not as sharp, so I have to move the document up more often to keep it in the field of focus, but for 20 quid, out of my own pocket (as if the school would pay!) I can save on photocopies (read, not get shouted at), show other kids' work for peer feedback and praise, use a basic one copy print-off and allow the whole class to be able to see it as I annotate it, model (you know, show them an example) and treat them to a quick pan around the class at the end of the lesson as they gurn and laugh.
    I hope you found my ramblings interesting reading. Sorry it was long, I just love to write. I hope to be a writer someday.
     
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Hi Cremeegg, thanks for the thoughts. Welcome to the forum.
    I mostly agree with you. Whiteboards are useful, I use mine a lot and would feel lost without it, even though I've got a fairly elderly version of Promethean. It has lots of limitations, but I've found ways to work around them (or I use powerpoint).
    It's good to save stuff and reuse it.
    Best wishes,
    P
     
  4. DBizzle

    DBizzle New commenter

    I agree with a lot of what has been said, and would like to add that I much prefer just having a projector for the simple reason that it allows me to teach lessons without any IT, and thus avoids the constant hypnotising square of light on the wall and the lowering of the light levels that usually go with it (eg closing blinds so pupils can see). This may just be the board I've used though, and maybe technology allows for writing on the interactive boards with normal pens now (so they dont need to be turned on, lights dimmed etc.). It was a bit of an eye opener for me, as someone who started their teaching career on an IWB, to be able to teach lessons with sun streaming through the windows and without a powerpoint (which I find makes students focus more on what I'm saying, though I will admit I do use powerpoints when I want pupils to write lots of notes).
     
  5. kittylion

    kittylion Established commenter

    This sounds really good!! You wouldn't have any web links or the brand name and model number or anything would you Cremeegg? I really need some way to save on photocopies and don't mind spending a bit of my own money on this.

    I agree with a lot of what you say about not having room to write - I quite often have the IWB for the stimulus stuff and then have a tiny little tradboard to write stuff on - it isn't always practical to annotate. I really lament my lack of space sometimes.

    I used to have a Smartboard but much prefer the Promethean I have now because you have to use the proper pen - none of this doodling with your finger to wreck things on the way in or out of the room.

    The one thing I miss about my old OHP was when I used to have a cardboard silhouette of a monster with a big mouth which I put on the screen and then I had all different foods around it which I would then ask the class "Qu'est-ce qu'il va manger?" and then I would slide the foods into his mouth or get one of the kids to do it for me - even some older kids used to ask for the cafe monster. There must be a way of doing this with the IWB but I haven't done it yet. I bet I could do it with your camera though.
     
  6. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Try asking the kids about IWBs.
    And opticians.
    I've done a number of 'hands up' surveys asking pupils whether they find an IWB harder to read than a traditional board. Between 40 and 50% of any class have problems, even when you change the font and b/g colour.
    Opticians also say that they are getting more children brought in for tests since the advent of IWBs.
    I use mine sparingly.
     

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