Along with a group of teachers from my school, I am heading off to the National IWB Conference in Sydney in late August. Despite having used one in my classroom since 2005 and being one of the prime movers in getting them installed in our school, my opinion on their effectiveness waxes and wanes constantly. I am presenting at the conference as well - twice in solo presentations on the use of social bookmarking and on effective presentation design, citing expertise from Meyer, Shareski, Elias, Mercer and Woodward along the way. I am also appearing in a support role with my co-planning buddy on "IWB and Inquiry Learning."
In between these commitments I hope to catch a variety of sessions in an effort to gauge what is being touted as best practice, how our school measures up in a national picture and whether there is any real transformation going on. I hope I can keep my cynicism on check as my one day jaunt to the 2008 IWB Conference was .... ahem ... a bit underwhelming.
I use my own IWB daily when in the classroom but I struggle with this whole concept of interactivity. I helped my wife construct her first own flipchart the other day as part of the training package her school got with their IWB purchases from late last year. She had to construct a table on basic shapes (she is teaching five year olds) and hide her selection of objects from the library in a layered box so the kids could "pull" them out of the "magic box" and then place them in the appropriate column on the flipchart. So what does pulling the objects out of the box achieve? Does this really enhance the learning process or is it just a visual gimmick?
So these sort of questions keep bugging me to the point where I am not sure whether the IWB is a lifeline or a barrier to effective classroom learning. Maybe to stretch the mangled metaphor a bit more, maybe IWBs just add digital cement around age old established practice. So, in the spirit of querying my own (constantly changing) perceptions, here is a comic for you to consider.