By Allison King
Technology is evolving and becoming more integrated in the classroom today than ever before. Throughout the past few years, the use of interactive whiteboards has become quite popular in the typical elementary, middle and high school classrooms. With the use of these whiteboards, teachers can explain their lessons in a whole new fashion. Just like all equipment, interactive whiteboards come with advantages and disadvantages.
After being introduced in 1991 by Smart Technologies, the interactive whiteboard was a revolutionary tool. Today, it is being filtered into schools across the United States and in many other countries. The interactive whiteboard is an instructional tool that allows images and documents from a computer to be displayed onto a mounted screen that can be controlled with a stylus by a digital projector. Using this tool, an instructor can drag, click, or copy items from a computer screen without needing to use the mouse. Also, an instructor can handwrite notes onto the board and save them for later use. The typical interactive whiteboards start at around $1,000 each, with many of them costing much more. Today, some of the most popular interactive whiteboards are the brands Mimio, ActivBoard, eBeam, Promethean, Webster, and Wiimote.
Interactive whiteboards have many vital uses in the classroom. According to National Education Association Member Benefits, “Classroom applications for using interactive whiteboards include: multimedia lessons and presentations including audio and video, collaborative problem solving, showcasing student projects and presentations, virtual field trips, recorded lessons that can be used by substitute teachers, and documentation of student achievement.” Other uses for the interactive whiteboard include creating KWL charts that can be accessed throughout a unit, creating graphic organizers, teaching proofreading/editing marks, using the highlighter tool to highlight and annotate a text, and to creating and teaching interactive lessons. With a teacher’s imagination, an interactive whiteboard could be used in the classroom to accomplish almost anything.
As with all new forms of technology, the interactive whiteboard comes with several key advantages and disadvantages. According to Curriculum Services Canada, one of the most important advantages of the interactive whiteboard is the increased student engagement. By incorporating interactive whiteboards into their lessons, teachers have increased student interest and motivation, reinforced learning, and offered self-paced practice. Students have become more interactive in the classroom, learning better than before the necessary educational concepts. Teachers benefit from the use of the interactive whiteboard also. With the click of a button, teachers are able to easily save a student’s work or their own lesson notes. Lastly, teachers are able to use their interactive whiteboards, which are hooked up to the computer, to display their own lesson plans or ones already created for them on the internet.
Incorporating interactive whiteboards into the classroom also has some disadvantages. As reported by Curriculum Services Canada, interactive whiteboards are very expensive. This can make it difficult for teachers and students to access this technology. Also, interactive whiteboards require the use of a projector, requiring school districts to first purchase an expensive projector before it can be installed. Interactive whiteboards may pose as a distraction to many students when first introduced. This happens because students want to play with the technology first before using it to advance their education. Lastly, interactive whiteboards can be a frustrating experience for teachers who have to learn how to use the equipment and adapt all of their notes and presentations to maximize the potential of the technology. The use of interactive whiteboards in the classroom creates many positive and negative effects on the both the student and the teacher.