Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why Using Interactive Whiteboards May Be Smart for Educators On Their Way to Becoming Innovative

Editor's note: Those who follow my blog know I believe that when it comes to educating innovatively, it's dumb to use a SMARTboard. Here's the best argument I've seen on the other side of the issue. I still believe that we can save tens of thousands if we ditch the board. I also believe we should try the less expensive Tablet/projector option. And, I still believe you can teach better without the IWB, but...for some teachers new to tech, the reasons stated in this post which was a response to my previous blog entry "may" make a case for purchasing an IWB.

TimeOutDad said...

@ Lisa - I love your posts on IWBs! It always makes for great debate and conversation! :) Funny thing is that some of the biggest protesters and critics of IWBs still USE them when they're around... ;)

I think I still kinda' like IWBs (despite all the bad press), namely because I use them and see MANY teachers using them who did not use ANY technology before they came along. And yes, computers and projectors were available before we got the IWBs. They weren't used because very few were willing to set them up. (Plus, we all know that anything that is constantly set up and put away has a much higher chance of breaking.) For a tech savvy person, setting up a projector, a set of speakers, and laptop is not a problem, but that convenience (one button) factor of the IWB has made all the difference in many of our classrooms, in terms of bringing technology into our classrooms.

Do IWBs always create great teaching and learning moments? NO WAY. But, are there times when we need our students to focus and pay attention to what we're teaching? YES! Does an IWB sometimes make for more effective teaching/presenting? YES! Aren't some of the highest paying people "Sages on the Stages." who talk, present, or perform for a living? YES! YES! YES!

WHY are we blaming the poor IWBs for ineffective teaching, presenting, or learning? Why are we demonizing a tool? Guess what? They cost a LOT less than an ineffective teacher or presenter. Poor IWB pales in comparison... Also, when you blamed the IWB setup in those classrooms at EdCampNYC, guess what? That was HUMAN error the way those poor IWBs were set up, not the IWB's fault. ;)

I think IWBs are the "Fall Guy" for ineffective teaching or presenting. It's like blaming a rice cooker for bad rice, blaming a hammer for poor construction, blaming a car for bad driving. We are blaming IWBs for being expensive, blaming them for poor teaching, blaming them for being misnamed. I don't think they named themselves, did they? Where does/should the responsibility lie?

It's similar to going into a kitchen, and blaming the microwave for the cooking that's going on in a household. Microwaves aren't evil, are they? We shouldn't use them for all of our cooking (although some might beg to differ), but even the BEST chefs use them sometimes, no? In the end though, let's not blame the microwaves for ineffective cooking...

If an IWB enables someone who is not so effective to be more effective in a classroom, a conference room, or a corporate board room, then that IWB certainly deserves to be paid a few grand, no? Personally, I'd take an IWB over an ineffective educator or presenter any day of the week. ;)

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