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Interactive Whiteboards May 21, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education, ICT Integration, Inquiry Model, Interactive Whiteboard, IWB.

I have long been a fan of interactive Whiteboards (IWB’s). I have been lucky enough to teach with one for the last 6 years. My board of choice is Smart Board. I know that like the Mac/PC debate IWB users can quickly polarise over models. Let me say that I have used the Promethean/Activ boards in the past and I am not a fan, I guess that if I had used the ‘hard board’ technology first then I may now prefer those, but my basic gripe about the hard board technology is the requirement for the user to have to use the pen to interact with the board and being interactive is the name of the game with this technology. I found that I ended up playing ‘pass the pen’ with this technology. With the soft board technology of Smart Boards every child can approach the board and can use their fingers to interact, this makes the whole process more fluid and immediate, especially for the younger ones who have less fine motor control. In fairness the soft-board technology does have its drawbacks, only one point of contact is allowed on the board surface and the younger students can find this tricky to manage at first…

Enough said, I am still a fan. The boards are so immediate, they make demonstrating ICT skills and concepts so easy, I have found that students pick up skills faster when a board is used. I model then get the children to feed back by demonstrating what they have learnt on the board, it is so visual, collaborative and immediate. I also use the Smart Board software, which anyone can download and install (see Resources) to create ‘how to’ lessons using the Smart notebook software. This software allows me to publish on our school intranet a range of skill based lessons that users can refer to as they need to. As the lessons grow in number and variety they are becoming a useful induction tool for new staff members and students. Smart notebook software allows you to export into pdf or html formats. I have also taken to using their recording software to record entire lessons, the resultant AVI files are very large, but this means that as part of the A3 protocol, my lessons, in theory can be re-visited at anytime, by anyone anywhere. The free to download program CamStudio can convert these large AVI files into smaller SWF format for publishing on the Internet.

As I have said earlier this blog has been set up to chart my school’s progress towards creating an inquiry learning model and ICT’s role in that process. Well in the last few weeks we have taken a good step towards that goal. We have installed four Smart Board SB680’s into four classrooms. Needless to say each of the designated teachers is delighted with their new resource as are their students. Each of them has approached their new equipment in different ways. Mostly all have taken time to assimilate the new technology into their classes and the model they are using has been teacher modelling with little or no student interaction. However, over the last week or so, I have begun to witness a change as the teachers get more confident with the hardware and software they are starting to experiment with how they utilise the equipment in their classes. I have asked them to make little steps to plan for interaction by the students and they are now moving down that line, some are more advanced down that track than others, having had prior experience with IWB’s. What is good to see is the willingness to experiment and some really good resources are being planned to be created. This however highlights one of the issues of new technology; isn’t new technology meant to make life easier not harder? What is needed are more repositories of Learning Objects for IWB’s so that teachers can download already created files that they can use to demonstrate the concepts they wish to teach or for students to use to consolidate their learning. (This is why it is good to download and install the latest Smart Board software on all computers, so that students can use these resources too!)

The following links have a good range of Learning objects that can be used on IWB’s

Smart Technology has a lot of resources for you to download and many are country related, the country related material can be accessed via the Notebook software once you have installed it.

Gareth Pitchforth’s site: Primary Resources has loads of Smart Board and Promethean learning objects as well as Flash and Power Point. It is based on the UK National Curriculum and is a teacher collective, they welcome any resources that you wish to share, so upload your own examples.

Thanks to Fiona Grant of Team Solutions for the following links and an enlightening session at the Lead Teacher Numeracy Symposium in Auckland on Friday 18 for the links below.

Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand is a great repository of multimedia resources about New Zealand.

National Library of New Zealand has lots of digital resources for you to access and use as part of your lessons

If you are a New Zealand School then the Digistore has over 1200 Learning objects for you to use, these are only available via a username and password. Your Principal or head of ICT should have this information for you.

There is also the EPIC data base which is also for NZ schools only and uses the same username and password as the one above.

In an effort to not continually re-invent the wheel, if any of you have any links to other freely available Learning objects for use on IWB’s I would love to hear.



1. PressPosts / User / Dertjer / Submitted - May 21, 2007


Submited post on PressPosts.com – “Interactive Whiteboards”

2. Marnie - May 22, 2007

I am going to be watching the comments on this post with great interest as it will be so helpful to find some resources for lower primary. I am finding I need to find the digital activity to suit my learning intention, which can be a difficult task that I can’t always achieve this. I am finding the maths digital learning objects Fiona Grant introduced us to fantatsic doe this but need some ideas for english – particularly basic writing surface features. Keep up the blog David, I enjoy reading it.

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