I've been meaning to link and comment on a post from Tom Barrett called Has the IWB past it’s sell by date? that touches on the technology that is still hailed in many Australian schools as the next big thing. It is seemingly viewed by many as the ultimate educational ICT tool as there aren't too many other edtech tools around that command conferences solely dedicated to the one form of technology. How about about an iPod conference, anyone?
So the IWB is an old 2002 model car, and every year there has been a growth in sales - way back then the model had all of the latest features and was “cutting edge”; now the same model has had a paint job, a few bolt on extras like a new exhaust and ways to plug in your mp3 player - but the car itself has not changed.
Now, Tom is in the UK and there has been a massive push there to get IWB's into as many classrooms as possible, so maybe the cutting edge gloss has long gone. But here in Australia, it's still go-go-go to buy and install these tools and be seen by the educational community as embedding technology into learning. I've waxed and waned about this topic many times before - and I've been in charge of leading out an IWB program at my school!
But the IWB has been slowly becoming a much used element of my classroom practice so far this year. We've had a new server installed and it is still slowly being coaxed into service by our dedicated tech staff. But the computing room has been out of action, and kids don't have logons or internet accounts at the moment so the IWB has been a vital cog in connecting to the online world and setting the year up. I used the board when constructing our Class Vision and the Class Expectations, getting the kids to rank the different elements to create agreed statements.
"1. Communication. In LA20, we will be polite and show our listening skills through the use of eye contact and a positive tone of voice."
I've pulled up YouTube videos as free writing prompts, grabbed Wikipedia references and previewed digital pics straight from the camera so that the kids could veto my photographic talents before I post their likeness on the front wall for the year. Yes, I know for all of the internet stuff I would be just as well served using a data projector but the just-in-time opportunities have been invaluable already in just over a week.
So, maybe there are "newer models" in the pipeline as Tom suggests but as a vehicle for learning, I will be using my IWB for a while to come. After all, how many teachers do you know that drive new expensive cars anyway?Attribution: Image: 'Toyota Camry' by A Surroca www.flickr.com/photos/88723106@N00/178390086
Hi Graham – glad you found the article thought provoking and yes you are right to point out that many countries are still to make the most of the technology. And I hope you understand that I am not decrying the boards which have proven an invaluable resource for me too – I am just concerned we don’t get too transfixed with them; I believe our interactivity-diet should be balanced enough to include other technological sources.
Hi Graham, interesting point and I think that it raises a question / challenge that you’ve covered in presentations that you’ve made (I saw the Lockley’s team present at the 2006 International Middle Years Conference). Specifically are we going to be using the board to do old things in new ways (and perhaps only doing old things in pseudo new ways at that) or are we trying to do new things in new ways? Perhaps to extend the car metaphor a bit further – its not just a case of what we drive, but rather why we drive, where we’re driving to and what we’re thinking about when we drive. Cheers, All the best for 2007
Tom and Tyrone, thanks for dropping by and adding your thoughts. Tom, I know you’re not decrying IWB’s but like yourself, their over inflated status causes me concerns that educators believe that they have the “technology issue” licked if they can operate one of these babies. And Tyrone, you’re right, us educators need to be worried about the journey of learning, not which vehicle we think we need. Driving is always a richer experience than being the passenger, especially if you have no say in what you’re seeing out the window. I think we’ve thrashed this car metaphor enough though, I reckon.