These days there is so much technology which is useful in education, which can supplement and enhance teaching methods or, in fact, open up new possibilities. Firmly in the latter realm is smart technology, as it offers the opportunity for the learning experience to be much more interactive for students. But what is the tech which can make a classroom more than just a room, and elevate it into being a proper ‘learning zone’?
In this article we’ll be looking at interactive whiteboards and how they can be applied in the classroom and learning environment.
The education and learning sector has seen an increase in technological innovations in recent years, as schools and other educational establishments have adopted much more modern teaching methods. Interactive whiteboards, projectors and smart notebooks, etc – all of these contribute to a decidedly ‘21st-century’ learning experience, and therefore draw in the learners much more. According to a Gallup survey in 2018, after introducing smart technology in schools and colleges, engagement rates improved by a staggering 55%.
Although there will undoubtedly always be a place for paper and printed materials, and traditional teaching methods, the truth is that in the main old-fashioned ‘chalkboards and paper’ lessons don’t connect with students in the digital age. Interactive whiteboards (and other smart technology) helps teachers turn what might otherwise have been dour or boring lessons and lectures into exciting and engaging sessions which are pretty much guaranteed to achieve their aims.
Interactive whiteboards (sometimes referred to as ‘electronic whiteboards’) are an incredible innovation for education. Imagine a traditional-style whiteboard at the front of the classroom, but one which can display not just the teacher’s scribblings on the subject at hand… A whiteboard which can display supporting photos, maps, graphs, flowcharts and videos, all of which expand the scope of the ‘learning moment’, offering students context and additional information. In short, capturing their imagination.
As a general guide, interactive whiteboards offer broadly similar features. But dependent on the particular specifications of specific models (please check these carefully), interactive whiteboard users can write with a pen, erase with a palm or move objects around the display with a finger. Some allow two users to simultaneously interact on the system’s surface, using different tools or their fingers to write, draw and manipulate lesson content.
These whiteboards make learning so much more attractive an experience, and the lessons become more interesting and easier to understand. Teachers can quickly and easily explain and expand upon each and every part of their lesson with visual and graphic presentation. This more immersive presentation encourages students to learn and memorise the topic for a prolonged period of time.
How do whiteboards integrate into a lesson?
With their desktop PC or laptop connected to the internet or a local network, teachers can access information extremely quickly and display it on the interactive whiteboard. This means that a wealth of resources and information is immediately at the teacher’s fingertips.
Supplemental Content on the Whiteboard
The whiteboard itself shouldn’t be the focus of the lesson – ie. it shouldn’t replace teaching itself and should be thought of as an enhancement, a tool to provide opportunities for the students to better engage with the information the teacher wants to impart.
To ensure coherence and focus, the teacher should prepare (or have chosen appropriately) the additional materials that will be used on the whiteboard during the lesson, before the lesson starts. Running through the things that you will need to display, as the teacher, will pay dividends in that it will save you time during the lesson, and allow you to keep honed in on the message.
Highlight Important Information from the Lesson
Interactive whiteboards can be used to highlight essential information as you work through a lesson, and present it in a truly engaging way. But they can also be useful in clearly displaying the structure and remit of the lesson. Before it begins in earnest, teachers can outline the sections to be covered in the lesson and, as each section begins, break down the key topics, definitions, and data on the whiteboard. This can also include the supporting graphics and videos. The benefit of doing this is clarity – it will help students with their notes.
At the end of your lesson it’s often customary to ask the learning group if they have further questions, and this is a great opportunity to use the whiteboard to look up additional information or data and show it to the whole class in a meaningful way. You could write the learner’s question on the whiteboard and then work through the answer, showing how you arrive at your conclusion by pulling in additional research material or data. When you’re done, you can save the results and send to the student for later reference.
Whiteboard Technology in the Classroom
An interactive whiteboard in the classroom means that students will be engaging with an iteration of the technology which has populated their lives – so it will be relevant and engaging. They will know and understand the technology. That in itself is a worthwhile aspect of interactive whiteboards. In a sense they are meeting modern learners on their terms.