Moments Of Doubt

It's been a funny week insofar that I find a lot of my professional thinking has been in a negative, just-beneath-the-surface frustration type of mode. Mentally and occasionally vocally, I've been wondering if I'm on the right track both in my teaching and in the directions our school is taking in our search for "up-to-date technology." I've ever been wondering if my support for our IWB program has been misguided and if we have any solid evidence that they've improved learning for our students. Nothing is really defined - just bits and pieces swirling around in my mind. So, in no particular order, here are a few of my recent Moments of Doubt:

  1. I'm really worried about this concept of interactive whiteboards being touted as a teaching tool as opposed to a learning tool. Is that a good thing or does it just entrench the teacher as the traditional focal point in the classroom? Can an IWB facilitate the sort of learning needed for the 21st century? I suspect that it can but how long will it take to evolve in our classrooms? While we wait for these new methodologies to emerge, is it wise to use our finite finances to place all our ICT eggs in the one basket?
  2. And I'm a bit frustrated with the lack of opportunity for my class to access computers at the moment. So many great things they could be doing with these new web tools but it'll take more than an hour per week in the computing room to make inroads. I could show them heaps of cool stuff via the IWB but that's not enough - I want them using stuff, creating projects using wikis, reporting to parents via podcasts, designing digital stories, reading and commenting on other students' blogs. But I have limited time, both with them and online access that I have to prioritise and pick carefully what is possible and leave some many good things untried and unexplored. Some days, I would trade the ActivBoard in for 10 wireless laptops because I think that would get the kids closer to what they need to be engaging with.
  3. What teachers want to do with their collaborative ICT time with me has been a little underwhelming. The first group of teachers wanted me to explore interactive Maths websites which I have done making use of as a bookmarklet tool which was good. But I was hoping for a little more direction from them, or something a bit meatier for the students to work on. But these kids are young and maybe interacting with an assortment of engaging Maths websites will at least get them realising that ICT has the power to make learning fun. Some of the boys with concentration and behavioural issues have been coming in to the computing room at lunch and asking permission to go on the internet to "do those good Maths games." So maybe my doubt is misplaced on this one.
  4. And these e-portfolios! For something that is cutting edge and could be really as individual as we educators are, why does everything have to fit a Word or Excel format? Maybe it's using tools that are familiar but could we look around at all the other exciting possibilities with web based applications. I don't think Web 2.0 actually exists for the majority of our teachers. If you want kids to link into this concept, you have to know they will want to use tools they value - and it may not be what we "digital immigrants" think will do the job.

Maybe, I'll feel better in the morning. My IWB funk has to lift before I present to leaders in the district on Monday to extol the virtues of our ActivBoards. Wow - and it's only Week Four. I have the feeling that Marc Prensky next week will either excite or depress me.

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5 thoughts on “Moments Of Doubt

  1. Graham

    Post author

    Today, it wasn’t just the boys who were into the games – the girls were just as involved! I had more than a few disappointed faces when they found out that the computing room was closed today at lunchtime and they couldn’t come back to “play more” in their own time. Thanks, Bronwyn, I will go back to the grade7math blog very soon and check out Darren’s links.

  2. Bronwyn G

    Oh, of course!

    Both boys and girls are into games nowadays.

    Especially games which help them learn.

    Glad it was a great learning experience for everyone, and that you will check out the site.

  3. Tony Forster

    Does a IWB really cost as much as 10 laptops? Could you buy a classroom of low end PC’s instead? I like the kind of self directed learning you can do with game programming.

    PS. A few maths links:
    Maths Demo’s, Applets and Virtual Manipulatives Brilliant! Animated GIF’s illustrate a large number of mathematics concepts. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives WisWeb is the website of the Freudenthal Institute for secondary education (students of 12 to 18 years old). The main focus of the site are applets; small computer programs that run over the internet These activities are designed for either group or individual exploration into concepts from middle school mathematics. The activities are Java applets and as such require a java-capable browser.


  4. Graham Wegner

    Tony, an IWB isn’t as expensive as 10 laptops – that would be the minimum number I’d want with a class of upper primary kids. Our IWB’s came in at around $6500 each (IWB, data projector, laptop & installation) and the board’s life is expected at 10-15 years before being superseded – projectors will mprove quicker than that as will the software that can run on them. In terms of long term planning, our school has to purchase stuff with some life expectancy in it. Al Upton has done the low end computer thing in his classroom and it works well for him. However, our school is limited in what we can do with cables, power outlets etc. so an IWB seemed to be a good workable option. Another blogger e-mailed me with costings for laptops from the Computer Recycling Scheme but I’m not sure that our school council would view that as a good investment of school funds.

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