Interactive Whiteboards - PDST
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards Advice Sheet 16 Interactive Whiteboards The Biology class is studying the functions of the heart with a graphical and text‐based presentation projected onto the interactive whiteboard. All queries are clarified by drawing on the large, touch‐sensitive screen. As well as allowing a number of pupils to click on an organ and visually explore its relationship with the heart, the teacher draws arrows to indicate the direction of blood flow and later initiates a discussion to test their understanding of the topic. The teacher has also linked parts of the diagram to other web‐based and computer‐based multi‐media resources. The students use the board’s authoring software and make presentations to their classmates. The lesson including some changes is stored for future use. The Interactive Whiteboard An Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) is a large, touch‐sensitive (thus interactive) board that when used with a combination of a computer and digital projector facilitates interactive ICT engagement. It resembles a traditional whiteboard and can be used similarly. The computer connected to the interactive whiteboard can be controlled by touching the board directly or by using a special pen. From the research available, it seems clear that the interactive whiteboard is widely considered to be a positive and motivational asset to the classroom. Use of the interactive white board Interactive whiteboards present educational resources in a new and impressive way. They are suitable for both whole class and in small group settings. IWBs allow pupils to explore ideas, carry out assignments and follow‐through on learning activities in new and interactive ways. The boards are highly motivational and elicit strong responses and participation within the classroom. Pupils with special needs can particularly benefit from their use in classrooms (e.g. facilitating individual contributions and enhanced access to multimedia content through a large screen). Optimal use of an interactive whiteboard involves both teacher and student use. It can, for example, be used to: • Allow presentation of student work in a more interactive and collaborative way • Show video clips that present and explain difficult concepts (in any curricular area) • Demonstrate how an educational software program works, e.g., an art program with students using their fingers or pen to draw rather than using a mouse © National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards •
Advice Sheet 16 Cater more effectively for visually impaired students and other students with special needs Display Internet resources in a teacher‐directed manner Allow students to work creatively through learning activities in whole‐class mode or in small groups and to present their work in multi‐media form for class viewing and discussion Provide new opportunities for individualised learning experiences Create handwritten drawings, notes and concept maps during class time, all of which can be saved for future reference School and teacher readiness to use IWBs While training is required to learn how to use the technology and its components in effective ways and to be fully conversant with many of its useful features, teacher professional development (TPD) is required in the pedagogical use of the IWB. Use of the IWB will introduce some changes to teaching styles and to classroom management. International evidence is showing that, without prior knowledge and experience of using ICT in the classroom, teachers currently use very little of the functionality of the IWB or fully exploit its potential as a learning and teaching tool. There is a recognisable learning curve demanded of teachers in the initial stages to ensure their effective use. Initial technology configuration for classrooms Given the cost of an IWB package, schools, in the first instance, should equip each classroom with a baseline technology configuration before purchasing IWBs. Schools need to be confident that the expenditure incurred per classroom, from an overall school ICT planning perspective, represents good value for money. In short, schools which have classrooms without digital projectors should first purchase good quality short‐throw digital projectors (Ref Advice Sheet 15 on Digital Projectors), a teaching computer (laptop or desktop) with a long range (8‐10 metre) wireless keyboard and mouse for each classroom. Digital Projectors can initially be used with a PC or laptop for whole class teaching, large image presentation, access to online resources etc, but can also later be used with wireless tablets or IWBs if these are introduced by the school. NCTE Recommendations Fixed, short‐throw digital projectors and teaching computers should be installed in as many classrooms as possible rather than installing a limited number of interactive whiteboards in a greatly reduced number of rooms. Digital Projectors provide excellent value for money and are essential to ICT‐enabled classroom learning. It is worth noting that digital projectors are a prerequisite for subsequent interactive whiteboard purchase and, so, do not militate against purchasing an IWB later. Some effective technology applications in the classroom include: a) A Digital Projector used with a good quality wireless mouse and keyboard in a classroom can achieve many of the benefits of an interactive whiteboard at a relatively low cost. Interaction with the large screen image is done using the wireless mouse from anywhere within the classroom, and by pupils as well as teachers. Specialised mouse and keyboards combinations need to have a range of up to 10Metres to be effective from all areas in a classroom. b) Wirelessly enabled ‘tablets’ or ‘slates’ are available from a number of the IWB vendors. Costs range from €300 to €400, and it is possible to purchase “slates” from IWB vendors together with © National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards Advice Sheet 16 access to software and to the considerable amount of online resources existing on vendors’ databases. The tablet or slate can be passed among the students and teachers can, themselves, interact with the tablet from anywhere in the classroom, including from the back of the classroom. The tablet can also be used by pupils from their desks, or be passed around, without having to be ‘up at the board’. c) Infra Red whiteboard device add‐on: portable and low cost devices that attach to any standard whiteboard, connects to a PC or laptop and, when used with a projector, allows you control your desktop applications and documents directly from the board. Cost start from €700. Technical Considerations To get an interactive whiteboard up and running, five separate components are involved: • The interactive whiteboard itself • A high quality digital projector (Ref Advice Sheet 15 on Digital Projectors) • A teaching computer (i.e. a laptop or desktop PC) • The IWB software package including learning resources • Connectivity between the computer, whiteboard and the projector. The computer and the associated whiteboard software are fundamental to the process. The digital projector allows everything that is happening on the computer screen to be projected on to the whiteboard where everyone in the classroom can see it clearly. The touch‐sensitive whiteboard allows users, either the teacher or students, to interact with the information being displayed. The interactive whiteboard captures the pen or user’s finger inputs and detects where the user is touching the board, this information is then is used as input to the computer running the interactive whiteboard software. Types of Boards: The surface of an interactive whiteboard is critical to its functionality and is a distinguishing factor between the different technologies used in the boards themselves. There are 3 different technologies used for this purpose, which are: Resistive Membrane The board surface incorporates a soft flexible yinyl or polyester‐based plastic front surface and a rigid back board. The two layers of resistive material with a small gap between them create a touch‐sensitive membrane, which is used to detect where a student or teacher touches the board. Applying pressure to the front surface (by using a pen or a finger) registers a contact point that is used as input to the interactive whiteboard software. Whiteboards based on resistive technology do not require special pens to write on the board, as ones finger can also be used. Electro‐Magnetic pick‐up These whiteboards are similar to traditional whiteboards in that they are quite rigid to the touch. The pens used with them emit a small magnetic field, which the board detects on pen impact or movement, and this information is then used as input to the computer running the interactive whiteboard software. Infra‐Red scanning By attaching infra‐red scanning devices to an existing ordinary whiteboard or flat surface the board is transformed from an ordinary whiteboard or surface to act as an interactive whiteboard. These scanning devices are light and portable and can be used with different types and sizes of ordinary whiteboards. Tracking of colour and patterns is based upon using special encoded pens, each of which has a uniquely encoded reflective collar that the board uses to identify its colour and position. © National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards Advice Sheet 16 Purchasing Considerations The cost of an interactive whiteboard varies considerably and usually depends on the type of technology chosen, and on the size of the board. Of the types discussed above, the infra‐red add – on device is the least expensive, as it works with standard whiteboards. When schools plan to purchase an interactive whiteboard package they should check what software resources are being supplied with it. Software is generally included in the purchase price of the whiteboard, but it is necessary to check if this software allows users to: • Draw or write on the board using different coloured pens or using ones finger. • Print out and save the content to the attached computer • Use “layering”, “grouping” and other features which allow the user to create their own classroom resources, often with the help of an associated gallery. Software can be a major differentiating factor in different products. Some suppliers supply specialised software packages to suit either Primary or for Post Primary schools. IWB packages range in size from 35 inches (diagonal) to approx 80 inches (diagonal) and normally cost in the region of €1,500 ‐ €4,000, including controlling software. If a digital projector has already been installed in a classroom, then the cost of the IWB package will be considerable less. Some boards can be fitted to a moveable stand, costing in the region of €300, enabling access in different locations, but, in general, boards should be wall‐mounted. The kit to do so is usually included in the price. However, installation and configuration of the board and projector could add another €300 ‐ €500 to the overall price. If the school does not already have a suitable digital projector to allocate to the IWB, a recommended projector will cost approx. €550, plus anything up to €300 for a replacement lamp (bulb). Some suppliers provide integrated, wall‐mounted projectors, bringing the total cost to approx €5,000 (including installation and training). The NCTE is currently in the process of putting a framework tender in place for digital projectors which will be available shortly. In the meantime and given the price variations it is essential to seek best value by obtaining quotations from at least three providers. Note that these indicative prices do not include the price of the computer itself. Infra‐red Interactive whiteboards are the least expensive option. Such systems can be purchased for under €1,000, with the school providing its own standard board and projector. Other purchasing and technical support considerations: • Details of technical support should be provided to handle any failures, support issues, queries, further training etc. • The cost of all spares such as special pens should be clarified with providers, as spares can be costly. • The boards themselves should be purchased with a 5 year warranty. • The projectors should be purchased with a minimum 3 year warranty. • The contract/warranty should include on‐site repair or replacement of all faulty items including board, projector, wireless tablet and software within a certain time. • The contract/warranty should include free software updates, as they become available from the provider. • Providers should clarify the licensing arrangements once the school purchases an IWB, ie if the IWB software is available to be used on all other school PCs. This is an important point as some providers may restrict a schools use of the software to a particular PC or laptop. • Providers should be asked if and how their product or software will work with IWB products from other providers, as this may be a consideration where a school has different types of boards. © National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards Advice Sheet 16 Additional Considerations The following relevant points should be noted when considering introducing interactive whiteboards to a school. • An area of consideration is the placement of the IWB and whether the board is to be fixed or mobile. Factors that will impact on placement will be if it will be shared amongst different teachers in different rooms. If so a freestanding mobile model may be required to enable movement within the school. • The size of the board should be big enough so that all students to clearly see the board and should be height adjustable to enable all students and teachers to reach all parts of the board, especially at Primary school level. Boards need to be typically greater than 75 inches (75” – 80” measured diagonally). • Schools should ensure that the software is supplied within the cost of the whiteboard and that this software is appropriate for the needs of the school and compatible with the computer in the classroom. • Height adjustable models may be suitable for smaller children. • Digital projector used with IWBs should generally be ceiling mounted short‐throw projectors. • Teacher resources may also need to be redesigned to engage the interactive aspects of the board. Appendix 1 The following observations on IWBs were written in 2008 by a teacher in an Irish primary school who has extensive experience of working with interactive whiteboards. “Interactive whiteboards are a relatively recent technology and as a result of this much of what we know about them comes from research projects that have been undertaken by schools rather than referred literature in academic journals. The following article provides a brief summary of some of the major reports into the use of interactive whiteboards in primary schools. It is not intended as an exhaustive list of resources available. To date, research has tended to agree with the general assumption that interactive whiteboards, when used efficiently, are a valuable asset to the primary classroom. Recent research shows that the interactive whiteboard is considered to be more effective as a static fixture than as a mobile resource. (Smith, H., 2003). It is agreed then that the positive impact of an IWB depends on the ways in which it is used. Benefits On the basis of analysis carried out for this report, interactive whiteboards can have positive impacts on teaching and learning in the areas outlined below. References for further reading are included at the end of the report. General benefits of IWBs • Enable more varied, creative and engaging classrooms (Judge, M., 2007) • Increase enjoyment and motivation • Students are able to cope with more complex concepts as a result of clearer, more efficient and more dynamic presentation (Smith, H., 2001) © National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards Advice Sheet 16 • Enable teachers to integrate ICT into their lessons while teaching from the front of the class (Smith, H., 2001) Benefits for teachers • The ability to save and print what is on the board, including any notes made during the lesson • The wealth of resources available, the stimulating nature of the presentation and the flexibility that the technology offers. (Higgins et al, 2005) • The benefit of being able to share and reuse materials • Ease of use, benefit of a tool facilitating collective viewing (Cogill, J, 2002) Benefits for students • Increased motivation • Accommodate different learning styles as teachers can call on a variety of resources to suit particular needs • Quantitative results • The following is a summary of research provided by a team at Manchester Metropolitan University, as part of the DfES Primary Schools Whiteboard Expansion project. (Somekh, B) In certain subjects, the more experience the teacher has of using the interactive whiteboard, the greater the likelihood of positive attainment gains for pupils: •
In Key Stage 2 maths, average and high attaining boys and girls who had been taught extensively with the interactive whiteboard made the equivalent of an extra 2.5 to 5 months' progress over the course of two years. There was less effect on progress for boys and girls of low prior attainment. In Key Stage 2 science, all pupils except high attaining girls made greater progress with more exposure to the IWB, with low attaining boys making as much as 7.5 months' additional progress. In Key Stage 2 English, the presence of an interactive whiteboard does not appear to have a significant effect on attainment, though further investigation with larger data sets is required. In Key Stage 2 writing, boys with low prior attainment made 2.5 months of additional progress. Further observations and advice Training in setting up and using the board and presentation software is essential. Professional development in the pedagogical use of the white should, if possible, be whole staff orientated to maximise a culture in which the IWB can become fully integrated. It takes time, it may take up to a year for the board to become fully integrated into teaching and learning in all classes. Developing multimedia teaching materials is a significant addition to workload in the early stages, though preparation time decreases once a range of materials exists. The expectations the whiteboards engender in students, however, put pressure on teachers to constantly improve the presentation and content of lessons. The capacity to share resources via the school network and internet could reduce workloads, but evidence suggests this is currently under‐used (Becta). The interactive whiteboard can be an expensive ‘blackboard’ if not properly managed. An IWB cannot compensate for poor preparation or management of learning. Whiteboards "are tools and, like all ICT tools, they need committed, ICT literate teachers to facilitate and develop their © National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards Advice Sheet 16 use". Whiteboards should not be introduced into schools without careful consideration (at senior management level) of location, positioning, access and curriculum application. Initial and follow‐
up training for staff is essential. (Smith, H., 2001) Other interactive technologies for the classroom include the following • Wireless mouse and keyboard and projector • Tablet PC’s and a projector • Interactive tablets and slates and a projector • Wireless Projector Server and projector (Kent NGfl) Appendix Conclusion From the research evaluated, it seems clear that the interactive whiteboard is widely considered to be a positive asset to the classroom. However, it is not without its problems. Technical support issues and a steep learning curve in the initial stages are factors that a school planning the purchase of an IWB should consider”. Appendix 1 References Becta, What the research says about interactive whiteboards. Cogill, J, (2002) How is the interactive whiteboard being used in the primary school and how does it affect teachers and training?, King’s College, London.
Higgins et al, (2005) Embedding ICT in the Literary and Numeracy Strategies – Final Report, Centre for Learning and Teaching, Newcastle,‐
dir/downloads/page_documents/research/univ_newcastle_evaluation_whiteboards.doc Judge, M., (2007) Research on Interactive Whiteboard Technology, Education Matters, December 2007.‐on‐interactive‐white‐
board‐technology‐launched/ Kent NGFL, Alternatives to Whiteboards Smith, H. (2001). SmartBoard evaluation: 2001 Kent NGfL. Smith, H. (2003). SmartBoard evaluation: update Kent NGfL. Somekh, B. DfES Primary Schools Whiteboard Expansion project (PSWE). ( ) End of Appendix 1 © National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
NCTE Advice Sheet – Interactive Whiteboards Advice Sheet 16 Other General links: Drumcondra Education Centre’s Interactive Whiteboard project
This is a portal site for Drumcondra Education Centre’s whiteboard project, containing links to classroom resources, to suppliers, and pedagogical advice. IWB link on Wikipedia
This is an information page on the Wikipedia website IWB resources
Multimedia resources for use with an IWB Note: While the advice sheets aim to act as a guide, the inclusion of any products and company names does not imply approval by the NCTE, nor does the exclusion imply the reverse. The NCTE does not accept responsibility for any opinions, advice or recommendations on external web sites linked to the NCTE site. This Advice Sheet and other relevant information are available at:
© National Centre for Technology in Education, Nov 2009
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