Getting the most from your interactive whiteboards Secondary

Getting the most from your interactive whiteboards Secondary
Getting the
most from your
A guide for secondary schools
Interactive whiteboards are creating quite a stir in classrooms
across the country. Pupils talk about enjoying lessons more
and finding them more interesting. Teachers revel in the
increased range of materials available and celebrate the
tangible improvements in pupils’ behaviour.
The introduction of interactive whiteboards raises a number of
issues: how can whiteboards be used to greatest effect? How
do they enhance learning? And what do schools need to
consider when planning for the integration of boards into
classroom practice?
This ICT Advice booklet aims to provide:
• practical information about interactive whiteboards
• advice on strategic management of the boards
• descriptions of how the use of the boards can benefit
teaching and learning
• examples of effective use of the boards in classrooms
• evidence from research about the benefits of their use
• sources of further information, advice and guidance.
The content of this booklet is specifically aimed at senior
managers and teachers in secondary schools, and includes
practical classroom examples and case studies. A separate
publication is available for primary schools.s.
Becta is grateful to the National Primary Strategy and
colleagues from the REVIEW Project for their invaluable
contribution to this booklet.
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
Interactive whiteboards as a teaching tool
The Schools Interactive Whiteboard Expansion Initiative
What is an interactive whiteboard?
Whiteboard types
Features of whiteboards
Benefits of whiteboards
Alternatives to whiteboards
Whole-school management issues
Main elements for successful integration of interactive
Defining your requirements
Purchase, supply and installation
Training and support
Classroom management issues and examples
Finding and using appropriate digital resources
Resources for teaching
Hints and tips
Developing your teaching strategies with interactive
What the research says about interactive whiteboards
About the research literature
Becta’s analysis of the existing literature
Embedding ICT in the Literacy and Numeracy
Strategies Evaluation
Further information, advice and guidance
Becta website information
ICT Advice Services
REVIEW Project
Appendix: Bibliography and further reading
Interactive whiteboards are rapidly becoming a common
classroom resource and many schools and local education
authorities (LEAs) are already reporting benefits in terms of
improved teaching and learning opportunities across the
whole curriculum.
The integration of this technology in our classrooms is an
exciting new development – it challenges assumptions on the
role of technology in learning. Some may have perceived
technology in our classrooms in terms of pupils working in pairs
at a computer, with the teacher acting as the ‘guide on the side’.
This new medium turns that assumption on its head.The
integration of the interactive whiteboard encourages teachers to
manipulate the technology in order to encourage and develop
active learning. Effective use of an interactive whiteboard
encompasses and extends a range of teaching styles. It also
supports and extends a wider range of learning styles – but, as
with any ICT tool, its success depends on effective use.
The key feature of this technology is that it emphasises wholeclass teaching strategies.These include teacher modelling and
demonstration, prompting, probing and promoting
questioning, managed whole-class discussions, review of work
in progress to reinforce key points emerging from individual
and group work, and whole-class evaluation in plenary sessions.
Interactive whiteboards as a teaching tool
Interactive whiteboards are powerful teaching tools. They have
the potential to:
• enhance demonstration and modelling
• improve the quality of interactions and teacher assessment
through the promotion of effective questioning
• redress the balance of making resources and planning for
• increase the pace and depth of learning.
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
Enhancing demonstration and modelling
Teachers demonstrate in order to show pupils how to do
something; modelling helps pupils to understand underlying
structures, relationships and processes in abstract concepts. A
good demonstration does not have to be supported by
discussion as, for example, when a teacher demonstrates a ‘cut
and paste’ technique on screen with little or no explanation.
However, modelling without discussion is ineffective.
The interactive whiteboard enables teachers to demonstrate in a
clear, efficient and dynamic way. As pupils visualise the techniques
or instructions, for example, they use the visual and kinaesthetic
stimuli to develop and reinforce their understanding.
Interactive software enables teachers to model abstract ideas
and concepts. As pupils interact with a simulation, they
respond to questions and pose others; they predict outcomes
and learn ‘what happens if…?’ and they experiment with the
variables in the model, because they see the effects taking
place. They use the stimuli to make new connections and
deepen their understanding of the concept.
In English, for example, the use of interactive whiteboards can
support aspects of shared writing. The process of planning
and composition is demonstrated by the teacher and writing
is modified and adapted on screen through interaction and
discussion with pupils.
In mathematics, interactive mathematical software offers dynamic
representation of shapes and systems.Teachers and pupils can
manipulate variables to see mathematical concepts in action.
Improving the quality of interactions and teacher
assessment through effective questioning
The interactive whiteboard promotes increased interaction
between the teacher, pupils, the subject and the technology
itself. It allows all pupils to engage with the same central focal
point in the classroom – something that is not easy to achieve
with other types of technology. It also enables the teacher to
easily refer back to previous learning and resources with ease.
Pupils use the dynamic representation of systems, images and
text to explain their methods; to support their reasoning; to
demonstrate their understanding and to teach others. The
ability to physically interact with the software, by manipulating
the text and images on screen, stimulates ‘on-task talk’. Pupils
talk for longer than otherwise in their responses and use an
extended range of vocabulary in their explanations. These are
all features promoted in accelerated learning theory and it is
these qualities of learning that teachers point to when they
talk of the benefits of using this technology.
The interactive whiteboard encourages questioning and
intervention at a range of levels, including open, closed and
uptake questions along with probing and evaluative
responses, all as part of the general flow of the lesson.
As the teacher leads the investigation, she asks pupils how
variables might be changed and how these changes might
affect the model. She pitches questions at particular pupils or
groups of pupils; assesses what they have learnt through their
answers and then tests their understanding by asking them to
demonstrate what they know through manipulating the model
on screen. She is confident that they have understood the key
points and then adapts the next set of questions in order to
develop deeper understanding. She poses a series of ‘what if…?’
questions and they are keen to try out new possibilities using the
software to try out their predictions.
Redressing the balance between making resources and
planning for teaching
There is now an extensive range of commercial and noncommercial digital resources that teachers can use to enhance
teaching and learning. E-Learning credits are available to help
schools purchase high-quality, curriculum-specific resources
and the pedagogical quality of the packages available
continues to improve. Teachers do not need to spend as much
time creating their own resources but they do need to know
where to find them, how to adapt them for their own lessons
and how to develop their teaching strategies to exploit them.
Digital flipcharts and notebooks that come as part of the
whiteboard’s software can be adapted and re-used by
teachers according to the needs of the class. These resources
can be shared not only with colleagues in the same school
but also beyond, through saving work to the local network,
emailing it or saving it as web pages on the internet.
The section Finding and using appropriate digital resources on
page 16 provides more advice.
Increasing the pace and depth of learning
The interactive whiteboard opens up new opportunities for
presentation, re-presentation and communication. Information
can be presented in exciting and engaging ways, creating
more motivating outcomes.
Interactive whiteboards allow collective engagement with
learning problems at greater depth. They encourage creative
and seamless use of materials including:
• websites
• video and audio clips
• internet and email exchange
• interactive teaching programs
• interactive and electronic texts
• interactive software such as digital flipcharts
• use of additional peripherals such as electronic microscopes
or digital cameras and scanners.
Texts can be written or created, and data and information
presented in electronic and multimedia formats. They can be
re-presented in ways that further explore, unpack or explain
the content, and communicated through e-presentations,
email and on the internet. This not only provides a medium for
presentation and communication, but also opens possibilities
of new, ‘authentic’ audiences and learning communities.
The software enables the teacher to quickly change and
reconfigure information, to provide opportunities to engage
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
with pupils at a higher and/or deeper level. Pupils are
encouraged to deepen their level of enquiry and generate
their own questions and hypotheses, which they can then
easily test and confirm.
Effective use of the interactive whiteboard incorporates a
variety of teaching techniques that support a range of preferred
learning styles. Effective use of interactive whiteboards can also
support visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning.The use of the
technology can undoubtedly increase learning opportunities;
however, the technology does not replace effective teaching. In
order to take full advantage of benefits of the technology, the
teacher needs to combine knowledge of the subject, an
understanding of how pupils learn, and a range of teaching
strategies along with skilful manipulation of the technology.
Schools should not underestimate the time needed for teachers
to become confident with the technology and to develop their
teaching style and strategies. Headteachers should consider a
long-term plan of training opportunities for teachers in order
that they can develop effective practice.
The Schools Interactive Whiteboard Expansion
In May 2003 the Government published The London Challenge:
Transforming London Secondary Schools, which set out to
ensure that over the next five years London becomes a worldleading city for learning and creativity. The Schools Interactive
Whiteboard Expansion (SWE) initiative is one of the first to
assist the London Challenge in achieving the objectives.
He said: “Interactive whiteboards are revolutionising teaching
and learning in schools, and we have seen that they have a
significant impact on standards.”
The initiative aims to increase the provision of interactive
whiteboards in schools to improve, develop and enhance
effective pedagogy using ICT and demonstrate that interactive
whiteboard technology can make a significant positive
contribution to embedding ICT in the classroom, raising
standards through improved teaching and learning.
In 2003 Becta managed a procurement exercise to identify and
award a number of framework contracts to suppliers who
would provide a range of interactive whiteboard packages
(board, projector, delivery, installation and basic operational
training and software, telephone and email support and threeyear on-site support) to a minimum specification at a
competitive price and to a reliable quality standard. An online
catalogue has been developed as a result of this exercise
which, whilst supporting the London Challenge initiative for
secondary schools, can also benefit LEAs and/or schools which
decide to adopt this technology. See the purchasing section
under whole-school management issues, and the section titled
Further information, advice and guidance for further details.
The aim for London is that all London secondary schools will
benefit from and be able to have whiteboards in all
classrooms used for at least one of the three core subjects –
English, mathematics and science.
Speaking at the London Education Show (Olympia, September
2003), Stephen Twigg, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
for Schools, announced a £25 million interactive whiteboard
project which will help revolutionise teaching and learning,
and raise standards.
What is an interactive
Despite the fact that there are several different brand names
and makes, all interactive whiteboards carry out the same
function – namely, to enable the teacher or pupil to control
the computer from the board itself rather than using a
keyboard and mouse, although these can be used as well.
A diagram is the easiest way of showing how this works:
Projector: beams
image of computer
screen onto the
Computer: sends
messages to the
data projector and
receives messages
from the whiteboard
Whiteboard: every
touch on the
board with a pen
or finger is like a
mouse-click on a
computer screen.
The whiteboard
sends messages
back to the
computer – the
required changes
occur and the
image on the
board changes in
In the simplest terms, a multimedia projector allows the user
to display anything that is on their computer for an audience,
and to control the computer from the interactive whiteboard
itself instead of having to return to the computer. This allows
even a novice user to run applications such as CD-ROMs,
word-processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations and
the internet simply by ‘clicking’ in the right places on the
board without losing engagement with a class. With a little bit
of practice, teachers can then start to use ‘floating tools’ to add
notes or comments and highlight sections of these pages.
The effective use of interactive whiteboard technology can
radically transform the interaction between teachers and
learners and allows for discussing and analysing in a visual,
auditory and kinaesthetic medium.
What is an interactive whiteboard
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
Whiteboard types
There are three key types of technology and then variations
upon these:
• Infra-red/ultrasound kits
Infra-red or ultrasound kits fix to any standard whiteboard or
any hard surface via clips or suckers. They use special pens
(or pen housings to hold standard marker pens). This
technology can also be used without a projector for simple
save/print functionality. These kits are less expensive than a
dedicated whiteboard, but not as robust or flexible. Some
whiteboards can be purchased with this technology already
installed and secured.
• Passive whiteboards
These have a dual membrane resistive board which is touch
sensitive. They can sense pressure on the whiteboard from
any object from a standard whiteboard marker to a finger.
On a very basic level these can be used without a projector
to save/print the content on the whiteboard. Note that some
passive boards do not advise the use of standard whiteboard
markers as these could permanently mark the screen.
• Active whiteboards
These solid-state impact-resistant whiteboards are operated
with an electronic or cordless stylus to detect the content
being drawn to the whiteboard. They are more accurate
than passive whiteboards, but have the disadvantage of
needing a projector to ‘draw’ the image on the whiteboard
as the pen does not physically mark the board. They are also
more robust than passive whiteboards.
There are also various types of alternative technologies such
as graphics tablets that allow pupils to make changes to the
displayed image without touching the whiteboard, as well as
numerous ‘add-ons’ such as voting pads, and personal or
mirroring devices which may assist with access issues.
Features of whiteboards
Most interactive whiteboards come with their own software, which
will generally offer a range of functionality, including the following.
All whiteboards have a design area, or blank pages to create
teaching materials. In most instances, the number of pages
that can be used is almost unlimited. Teachers can either
prepare these before a lesson, drawing on a wide range of
digital assets such as images, video or audio clips, or they can
be generated during the course of the lesson whilst the
learning is taking place – again, using text, images and sound
already saved, or starting with a blank page. The teacher and
pupils move backwards and forwards through the pages at a
suitable pace. This is useful for presenting and representing
work. The flipchart can be run at the same time as other
applications (web browsers, word processors, spreadsheets,
and so on), allowing users to swap between the flipchart and
other programs. All pages can be saved.
Pens and highlighters
These allow the user to handwrite on the board. This is not
possible with a mouse on a computer screen. Different pen
colours are available, which can be used to enhance the
teaching and learning process.
Interactive activities
The whiteboard software allows teachers to create resources
which pupils will find motivating and fun. Being able to ‘drag
and drop’ text, images and sounds on screen allows for a
variety of sorting, categorising and sequencing exercises.
Hiding and revealing text, images and sound is also possible,
allowing pupils to hypothesise and make suggestions, before
confirming or re-assessing their original ideas. Reviewing work
in progress through peer review and discussion allows pupils
to reflect on their own and others’ work in order to make
Templates or backgrounds
Using templates available in the software provides a structure
(for example, graph paper or a music stave) or a framework (for
example, PE pitches, flowcharts, and brainstorm templates) for
teachers to manage the work on the board.These resources are
time-saving and visual, enabling pupils to access resources
which could be more difficult using traditional methods.
What is an interactive whiteboard
Some whiteboard software provides visual functionality,
particularly useful for mathematics and scientific subjects
when dealing with abstract concepts or physical phenomena.
Rotating, flipping and mirroring shapes can all be carried out
by clicking on a button. This allows teachers to demonstrate
these functions at the board. Pupils can predict and
immediately confirm, or reassess, their own understanding.
Benefits of whiteboards
The benefits of interactive whiteboards are both practical for
teachers and motivating for pupils.
Ability to prepare and access saved work
Graphs, charts, diagrams and text can all be prepared in advance
in a suitable software package and accessed during the lesson.
This allows teachers to provide models and demonstrate work
quickly and efficiently.
Access to multimedia files
Sound, moving and still image files are readily accessible using
whiteboard technology. This can be useful as an additional
presentation of a concept or scene setting and helps to bring
topics to life. (You may need audio facilities for some types of
multimedia, however.)
Software choices
The range of software available for curriculum subjects is
growing and specialist software supports learning in a variety of
ways. For many topics, teachers now have access to a wide
variety of materials, which can be explored on the whiteboard.
An increasing amount of software and content is designed
specifically for use with interactive whiteboards.You may also
already have software and content in your school that can be
used effectively with an interactive whiteboard.
Involvement in the lesson
Pupils seem to enjoy using the whiteboard technology and
quickly acquire the techniques to manipulate the software
and actively participate in their learning.
What is an interactive whiteboard
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
Rapid response
Pupils receive immediate feedback on activity on the board –
and they are not afraid to make mistakes. They become
confident and take risks knowing that the flexibility and
functionality in the software means that they can learn
through trial and error, making ‘mistakes’ along the way and
learning through the concept of ‘what happens if…?’. This
allows pupils to test and confirm ideas and work collaboratively
with others in the class to make decisions. Discussion, debate,
articulating what you know and understand and
demonstrating what you can do are all key features of effective
whole-class teaching with an interactive whiteboard.
Alternatives to whiteboards
There are many alternative or complementary technologies to
use alongside interactive whiteboards, offering varying levels
of interaction in the classroom environment.
Tablet PCs
You can use a tablet PC and a wireless link to either a wireless
projector or computer incorporating wireless technology
physically connected to a projector. This allows the content to
be drawn directly onto the tablet PC and then projected onto
a standard whiteboard or projection surface. This has the
advantage of the writing surface being mobile, but suffers
from the speed of the wireless link. In a lot of cases fastmoving images such as video have poor frame rates.
Touch-sensitive LCD tablet/TFT screen
This is similar to the tablet PC, but needs to be connected
physically to a separate computer, as it is simply a touchsensitive flat monitor. It has the advantage of being cheaper
than a tablet PC and able to display fast-moving images such as
video, but has the disadvantage of being fixed and not mobile.
Wireless mouse and keyboard
Used in conjunction with a multimedia projector, a wireless
mouse and keyboard give a limited level of interactivity but may
be adequate for demonstrating the use of many applications.
What is an interactive whiteboard
Whole-school management
The main elements for successful integration of
interactive whiteboards
To ensure successful integration of interactive whiteboard
technology in the teaching and learning environment, a
number of key elements should be considered:
• Conduct a requirements analysis to ensure the most
appropriate whiteboard and projector are purchased, and
that the whiteboard is located in the best position firstly
within the school, and within the classroom.
• Ensure that the interactive whiteboard and projector are
appropriately installed, taking into account all health and
safety considerations.
• Provide training for all teachers covering basic equipment
operation, functionality and care of equipment.
• Follow up functionality training shortly afterwards with
pedagogical training to ensure that teachers are fully
equipped with knowledge and ideas for how to use the
new technology to its full potential.
Defining your requirements
Considering the following factors will help to ensure that
you choose the most appropriate whiteboard and integrate
it successfully.
Choosing an interactive whiteboard
An interactive whiteboard is a major investment and a piece
of equipment that the teacher is likely to work with every
single day. The best advice is to try before you buy. Test
different systems and find out which board teachers in your
school prefer.
The functionality offered by, and resources included with, the
software supplied with the board are very important – how easy
is the software to use? Does it do everything you need it to?
Whole-school management issues
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
Look at the full range of services offered by the supplier/vendor
and how much support is provided after installation.Talk to
other teachers and advisers as well. In general, having just one
board type in school is much easier to manage.
If you are purchasing additional whiteboards, check that all
users are happy with the functionality, reliability and usability
of existing boards.
Choosing projection equipment
There are a number of technical issues to consider when
purchasing and using a projector with an interactive
whiteboard, and these should be identified as an aspect of
your requirements analysis. Factors include:
• Brightness
The amount of light output from the projector is measured
in lumens. A minimum of 1000 lumens should ensure good
clarity of image, while 1500 lumens will be more than
adequate for most classroom environments. To minimise
potential risk of eye damage from misuse, projectors over
1500 lumens should be provided with a method of
reducing or filtering the brightness for when the projector is
being used with a whiteboard. This can then be removed for
other projector uses such as cinema type uses where it is
not likely that a person will be standing in the beam. This
may be achieved by the supply of a neutral density filter or
brightness reduction function on the projector. This does
not imply that projectors over 1500 lumens are dangerous:
all projectors have the potential to cause damage if
misused, but the risk may be increased with higherpowered projectors. Never turn to face the projector when
standing inside the beam of light and always teach pupils to
step outside the beam before facing the projector.
• Contrast ratio
This is the contrast of the image: the higher the contrast, the
more vivid the colours. For example 400:1 would provide a
better contrast than 300:1. A recommended minimum of
400:1 contrast ratio should ensure a good image even on
the lower lumen projectors.
• Bulb type/lamp life
Projectors use special bulbs.These generally have a life of
between 2000 and 4000 hours, and can cost £200–£350. Some
projector bulbs may contain mercury. It is important to store
any replacement bulbs securely to prevent breakage. Schools
need to take care to dispose of bulbs safely. Bulb life may be
dramatically decreased if the correct procedure for turning off
the projector and allowing it to cool down is not followed.
• Resolution
Generally a projector is either SVGA (800x600) or XGA
(1024x768). Most modern computer monitors would run at
1024x768, however 800x600 is ample for general video use.
Many projectors can simulate higher resolutions by
squashing the image to fit their native resolution, although
this will result in a much lower quality image.
• Keystone correction
This allows correction of a distorted image caused by the
projector not being vertically in line with the screen (for
example, when ceiling mounted). Keystone correction
stretches or shrinks the top or bottom of the image to give
a true rectangle filling the screen.
• Image throw distance
Projectors have a maximum and minimum throw distance
(distance of the projector from the screen) for a specified image
size.When mounting a projector it is important to make sure
that the projector is fixed within its throw distance.Too close
and the image may either be out of focus or not fill the entire
screen; too far and the image may be too large for the screen.
• Upside-down projection
A ceiling-mounted projector is usually mounted upside
down. Most projectors have an option to invert the image
so that it is projected the right way up. Some smaller,
portable projectors do not have this option.
• PAL and NTSC support
Many countries, including all of Europe, use a display system
known as PAL. All video sources such as DVD players output
this format. Other countries such as America use NTSC.
Whole-school management issues
Buying a projector that supports both PAL and NTSC
sources will ensure full compatibility with both formats.
• Aspect ratio
This is the shape of the screen used. A standard television and
computer monitor is 4:3 and a widescreen television is 16:9.
• Remote control
This is essential if the projector is mounted out of reach. Some
remote controls include pointing devices such as laser
pointers or a mouse to control an on-screen pointer.
Replacements can be expensive.
• Input type
Composite, S-Video, RGB and VGA are different input types.
Composite is a standard round 1-pin video plug often found on
cameras, S-Video is a round 4-pin plug found on some
DVD/video players and offers better image quality to composite.
RGB is often sent from a SCART or VGA plug. Many devices can
output RGB via a SCART, but few projectors feature SCART plugs.
VGA plugs are generally associated with computers, and would
allow the projector to substitute a computer monitor.
• Stereo sound input and output
Most projectors have built-in speakers, but these are generally
small and quiet, and so an external sound source is advisable.
If a projector has only one speaker, make sure it mixes both
stereo channels into one, so sound is not lost.
• Economy mode
This dims the bulb light to prolong its life. For example, a
1500 lumen projector may dim the bulb to 1000 lumens
and extend the life of the bulb from 2000 to 3000 hours.
• Cooling
Projectors produce a lot of heat and use fans to control
their temperature. Care must be taken to keep filters clean
and ventilation unobstructed. Failure to do this can damage
the projector or shorten the life of the bulb. This is especially
important if you have an upside-down ceiling-mounted
projector as there may be a vent facing the ceiling in which
dust can gather.
Whole-school management issues
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
• Warm-up/cool-down time
Some projectors may take several minutes to warm up
before the image is stable and bright enough, and cool
down after use (the bulb switches off but the cooling fan
continues). This should be taken into consideration
especially when mobile projectors are being used.
Switching a projector off before the cool-down process has
finished can damage the projector and bulb.
Careful consideration must be given to the positioning of
equipment, and this may affect your choice of interactive
whiteboard and projector. Think carefully about location in the
classroom in terms of visibility and accessibility, and ensure that
the board is positioned at the right height for pupils to use.
Wall-mounted whiteboards are larger and more sturdy but ensure
that anyone using the whiteboard can reach all areas of the board.
Mobile whiteboards are usually smaller and can be easily
moved between classrooms. However, they take time to set up
(up to 20 minutes), need calibrating if knocked during use and
there is a much higher chance of damaging them if they are
moved frequently. If a projector is being used with the
whiteboard, ensure the surface of the screen is not in direct
sunlight. Curtains or blinds may be needed to prevent this.
Fixed projectors are often ceiling mounted, as this maximises
the space around the projector and reduces the chance of the
projection beam being obstructed. The shadow of the
operator is less intrusive when the projector is ceiling
mounted as it falls below the tip of the pen. A low-level
mounted projector leaves the operator trying to write in the
middle of their hand’s shadow. Special care most be taken to
check for asbestos if the projector is to be ceiling mounted.
Mobile projectors will require a stand such as a pedestal or
table. The time taken to connect cables between the computer,
projector and interactive whiteboard and to calibrate the
interactive whiteboard must also be taken into account.
Depending on the positioning of the projector, long cabling
may be required to get power and video source to the
projector. Ceiling-mounted projectors will require cabling
running across the ceiling and to a termination box. It is advised
that when the cabling is fitted, a full complement of cables are
installed, since adding cables at a later date may be costly.
Termination boxes are available in both metal and plastic.
Mobile units will need more attention to health and safety as
you will have cables trailing across the floor which need to be
covered to avoid tripping.
Think about which peripherals you will need to go alongside
the computer, projector and board. You may need to consider
a printer, scanner, video player (connected to the projector),
speakers, microphone, specialist equipment for your subject
(such as data-logging equipment, microscopes, and a digital
camera) and remote devices such as a keyboard, gyromouse
or voting devices.
As an interactive whiteboard is basically a pointing device (the
same as a mouse), any software that requires just a mouse and
not a keyboard to operate can be used on the whiteboard.
Many specific whiteboard packages are available, and it is worth
checking what bundled software comes with the whiteboard.
Computer connection and networking
You should look closely at the computer that will control the
interactive whiteboard. Is it attached to the school network so
teachers can share resources and pupils can access files they
have worked on with the whole class when they are working
alone or with a partner? Will you need the computer that
controls the board to have access to the internet? You may
also want to consider the facility of being able to attach a
second PC or laptop without having to waste time
disconnecting a permanently-connected computer.
Technical support
Before investing in interactive whiteboards, schools should ensure
that they can provide or purchase an adequate level of technical
Whole-school management issues
support.Technicians may require some training and should be
fully aware of the board’s capabilities and fully competent in the
software supplied with the board.They should also be able to
install and manage software that is requested by teachers, and
could look at undertaking tasks such as ‘digitising’ resources, for
example converting audio cassette and VHS material into digital
files, or downloading and saving purchased materials onto the
local area network, subject to any copyright restrictions.
Additional costs
Other costs, such as curtains or blinds may be incurred. Even
though modern projectors can function in a well-lit room, few can
cope with direct sunlight hitting the projection screen. A computer
to run the whiteboard, speaker set-up, additional software and
pedagogical training also need to be taken into account when
considering the total cost of ownership of whiteboards.
Purchase, supply and installation
Becta, in creating an OJEU (Official Journal of the European
Union) compliant framework contract, has developed standards
and performance specifications, and undertaken a full supplier
evaluation process for interactive whiteboard solutions.This
covers a broad range of areas such as: whiteboard and projector
compliance to minimum functionality requirements; suppliers’
installation process and approach; training evaluation; technical
support; value for money assessment; provision of appropriate
insurance cover; commercial factors and financial assessment.
Becta will also provide ongoing contract management and
monitoring of suppliers’ performance via key performance
indicators. All of the factors mentioned in this section will help
to provide purchasers with greater confidence and peace of
mind when selecting product/supplier combinations. An online
catalogue will show a range of boards, projectors and services
on offer from suppliers who have been awarded a framework
contract.The catalogue will be updated with price and
specification details that schools can use to inform their
purchasing decisions. For further information see the Becta
website [].
Whole-school management issues
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
In addition, IPAS (Independent ICT Procurement Advisory Service
for schools) provides guidance for purchasing ICT products and
services.The website contains advice, guidance, interactive learning
resources and template documents to help schools make
decisions about buying ICT equipment, understand how to use
best procurement practices and gather information about what
they want to buy. It will also help schools to identify and record
total cost of ownership factors, manage suppliers and monitor
purchases [].
Most installations (other than mobile devices) will require
installation by a trained professional. Close liaison with an
installation team is essential.You may need to clear space on a
wall, invest in blinds, install trunking for cabling, move electrical
sockets and examine where your projector can be mounted. A
good installation team should work in co-operation with the
classroom teacher and the school, offering advice along with a
pre-installation site visit to assess the best installation procedure.
Care should be taken to consult the asbestos register, and
schools should ensure that the supplier is made aware of the
presence of any asbestos both at the time of the site survey and
at the time of the actual installation.
Always ensure that the system you choose has a full warranty. Pay
attention to exceptions to warranties such as the bulb fitted to the
projector, which can sometimes be covered by a shorter warranty.
Please note that projectors are becoming increasingly desirable
items for the criminal, so you will need to take appropriate
precautions to safeguard your equipment. Standard security
measures (such as ultraviolet pens/data tagging) and physical
security (such as locks or cages) should be used to protect
projectors. Ceiling-mounted projectors can be easily unbolted unless
protected. Some projectors come with built-in security measures
such as pin codes.The interactive whiteboard catalogue details
various security options, and it is the responsibility of the school and
LEA to take adequate care to prevent theft.
Training and support
Training is not just a one-off issue.Training in how to maintain and
use the equipment and software will be required. Make sure you
receive written information from your supplier that can be
accessed in the classroom and for whole-school training sessions.
Training in whiteboard skills is essential and a short course from
your whiteboard supplier or LEA should cover this. However,
learning to apply these skills is a long-term process and should be
considered in conjunction with other aspects of teaching. It may
be wise to develop expertise in a small number of departments
first before rolling out training to the whole school. Some teachers
may still require training in basic techniques such as learning to
organise files into folders and recognising different file types
(.doc .jpg .wav .mpeg).These are essential skills for using digital
resources effectively in classroom teaching and learning.
Teachers will need time to become familiar with the features of the
technology and to start to consider how their teaching methods
and strategies will develop through the use of the board.Wholeschool training and departmental sessions will need to be planned
into the schedule for integration with classroom practice.
Technical support
Teachers should also be confident that they have access to
technical support when necessary. General maintenance such as
cleaning and replacing projector filters and replacing bulbs can
be carried out by simply following instruction guides and does
not need a trained professional.Trouble-shooting and repair
should be responded to swiftly, especially if the whiteboard is
used on a daily basis.
Care and maintenance
Care must be taken to follow the manufacturer’s recommended
maintenance schedule for the equipment.This may include regular
cleaning and replacement of the projector filters and the use of
specific cleaning products for the whiteboard surface. Care must
be taken to allow the projector to cool before replacing lamp
units, unplugging or moving the projector.
Whole-school management issues
Classroom management
issues and examples
In order to get the most out of the interactive whiteboard in
your classroom, you will need to plan for your use of digital
and web-based resources. There is now a wealth of both free
and priced digital resources available to make teaching and
learning really effective – the most important thing is
knowing how to find a quality resource, quickly.
Curriculum Online is an online catalogue of priced and free
digital learning products to support the teaching of the
national curriculum in England up to and including Key Stage
4. The catalogue is provided by the DfES as part of a
programme to give £330m in electronic Learning Credits
(eLCs), between 2002 and 2006, to maintained schools in
England to spend on software and web services. Each
maintained school is entitled to £1000 as a starting point plus
nearly £10 for each pupil at the school.
You can use the search facility on Curriculum Online to find
products by selecting from various criteria including key
stage/school year, subject and QCA schemes of work.You can also
look for cross-curricular topics, inclusive products, keywords and
the various methodologies within the ‘more search options’facility.
For more information visit the Curriculum Online website
Finding and using appropriate digital resources
The following tips may help you to find and use digital resources
to support interactive whiteboard use in the classroom.
Searching for resources
• When using search engines, use additional key phrases to
narrow down and refine your search.
• Add the key stage – a teacher may have already published
the resource you are looking for (for example,‘science Key
Stage 2’ or ‘science KS2’ / ‘Brazil Key Stage 3’ or ‘Brazil KS3’).
Classroom management issues and examples
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
• Add the word ‘animation’ or ‘flash’, for example ‘heart
animation’ – you will find pictures of a heart contracting and
expanding as blood is pumped around the body.
• Add the words ‘game’ or ‘fun’, for example ‘fractions fun’ – you
fill find several sites with games and resources for teaching
fractions. If it doesn’t provide you with a resource directly, it
may provide good ideas for creating one.
• Some major search engines offer pre-set image searching from
the home page.Type in an image that you need to illustrate a
teaching point and it will bring up a wealth of images. From
‘dovetail joints’ to ‘favela’, you will immediately be able to show
what you are talking about, rather than just explaining it. Images
are useful for starting a lesson – asking the pupils what they
think the picture, and therefore the lesson, will be about.
Saving resources
• Remember that even though you can download them from
the web, images, sound and video files may be subject to
copyright restrictions. You will need to ensure you and your
pupils only use copyright-free files or that you have
permissions to use copyright files.
• Once you have found and saved appropriate resources,
make sure they are appropriately ‘tagged’ or named so that
other teachers and pupils can search for them on your local
area network.
Using the expertise of others
• Ask colleagues from other schools what they are using and
what they would recommend.
• Subscribe to the ‘ICT in your subject’ electronic newsletter
service by selecting ‘newsletters’ from the home page of the ICT
Advice site.These contain news, reviews and suggestions of
ways in which you can integrate ICT in your subject teaching
and learning.They also include listings of national training
events and conferences that you can take part in around the
country and online. []
• The REVIEW Project website has details of software and websites
recommended by teachers. []
• The Teacher Resource Exchange (TRE) is a moderated
database of resources and activities designed to help
teachers develop and share ideas for good practice. All
resources on the TRE are checked by subject specialists to
ensure that they are of the highest possible quality.
• Many local education authorities have their own grid for
learning where they recommend web-based resources. You
can always visit the websites of other LEAs as well.
”We started with just two boards – fitted in January
2003 – which came as rather a surprise to me! I
trained myself from the handbooks supplied and
quickly began to realise the potential of the board.
Reactions from the pupils were positive from the
start. Shared reading via a single text on the board
was a real success – usually timid readers would not
hesitate to take their turn at reading aloud from the
board; pupils who would quake at the idea of putting
their hand up to draw attention to themselves in
class would willingly volunteer to come and take the
pen, highlight and re-arrange text, participate in onboard story activities or stand as 'page turner'. It still
amazes me how classroom shrinking violets suddenly
become empowered by the 'magic wand' [pen] and
colourful display.
It's October now – in nine months the board has
transformed how I teach, how my classes interact, and
how I work creatively. It's been a steep learning curve.
…I'm not usually one to become evangelical about
innovations in education…but I believe interactive
whiteboards are the way forward with education –
re-engaging 'bored' pupils’ interests, and opening up
new avenues for real creativity. And really, as yet, the
pen has barely scratched the surface.”
English teacher (secondary)
Classroom management issues and examples
Resources for teaching
InsideOut – obstacles (Key Stage 4)
This lesson was taught in a computer suite which had an
interactive whiteboard.
When starting a unit of work on the periodic table with a
Year 10 class, the teacher used obstacles from InsideOut
as a starter activity.
The pupils answered questions about the elements of the
periodic table in an attempt to cross the periodic table in
a ‘blockbusters’ style.
The activity gave the teacher an idea of what the class
already knew about individual elements and it allowed him
to introduce the structure of the table and use terms such
as ‘group’ and ‘period’. The class were encouraged to note
the properties of the elements and look for patterns as they
moved along the rows (periods) and columns (groups).
The class were then given properties, for example the boiling
point, of some elements and asked to predict the properties
of other elements in the group or period.These were checked
against an online periodic table such as the schoolscience
website which the teacher had opened in another window
Classroom management issues and examples
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
Battle of Hastings and the Bayeux Tapestry (Key Stage 3)
The Bayeux Tapestry site is a complete reproduction of the
tapestry with sections that contain background
information setting the tapestry in its historical context.
The Essential Norman Conquest provides information in the
form of a newspaper written about events before and during
the battle. In addition there are interactive maps and views of
the battlefield and information on Normans and Saxons.
A Year 7 teacher used this resource to introduce pupils to the
use of visual sources in order to draw historical conclusions.
She showed some of the screens from the tapestry
concentrating on image 34 showing the death of Harold,
asking,‘What are the two versions in the tapestry? Which is
more likely, and why? Is it possible that both are true?’.
She asked pupils to compare the tapestry view of events with
that of the other site in order to consider how far the
tapestry’s version of events can be trusted.
The teacher opened three windows to display pages from the
two sites.
Classroom management issues and examples
In two of the windows she opened the 3D map of the
battlefield, which gives a diagrammatic representation of the
day’s events, and the ‘sights’ link on the ‘on that day’ page
which gives a 360º view of the battlefield from the Essential
Norman Conquest. Moving from window to window she
compared the tapestry’s version of events with the account
on the 3D map while viewing the location of the battle using
the 360º viewer. She encouraged the pupils to interpret the
information on screen – something which could not be done
using traditional teaching tools.
Shape, space and measure: transformation – enlargement
(Key Stage 3)
When covering the topic of transformations with a Year 9
class, a mathematics teacher used an interactive whiteboard
to demonstrate properties of transformations. She
downloaded the spreadsheet from the Virtual Textbook.
The spreadsheet enabled the teacher to demonstrate
enlargements at the touch of a button: diagrams are
drawn instantly, accurately and in colour; graphs are
precise; and the teacher’s board becomes clear, colourful,
Classroom management issues and examples
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
eye-catching and engaging.
The teacher was able to construct enlargements using
different scale factors and show the effect of moving the
centre of enlargement.The shapes moved across the screen
enabling pupils to immediately see an accurate visual
representation of the enlargement. Using the software she
was able to demonstrate dozens of enlargements which
could not be achieved using traditional methods.With the
interactive software she changed the shape, factor of
enlargement and centre of enlargement, demonstrating to
the class that enlargements preserve angles but not length,
and the factor of enlargement as the ratio of lengths of any
two corresponding sides.
Using the software, the attention and interest of the pupils
resulted in a greater understanding of what is traditionally
a difficult concept.
Hints and tips
• Make sure there is plenty of space both in front and to
either side of your whiteboard so that you can move around
it and access all parts of the screen easily without standing
in the beam.
• Make sure the whiteboard is positioned at a height that the
pupils can reach without over-stretching. You may need to
have a sturdy step available for shorter pupils.
• Install wall-mounted speakers, rather than relying on the
internal speaker within the projector. This means that sound
is of better quality and carries better across the classroom. It
will be cheaper if speakers are installed at the same time as
the whiteboard and projector.
• Use a font type and size that can be easily seen at the back
of your classroom – Arial, Comic Sans and Sassoon Primary
are recommended fonts for schools. Always check it out
from the furthest position before the lesson starts.
• Use background colours other than white – pale, pastel
colours can help improve legibility. If you have a problem
with glare from windows without blinds, try using a highcontrast combination such as a black background with
white or yellow text.
• Make use of full-screen utilities within applications. For
example when viewing a website using Microsoft Internet
Explorer press F11 on your keyboard to remove all of the
toolbars at the top of the page. This displays your web page
in a much larger screen, and makes the page more visible.
• Place a wireless keyboard near to the whiteboard for times
when you or the pupils want to add text. This saves moving
back to the computer each time you need to enter text.
• If you are going to use a website in a lesson, add it to your
favourites/bookmarks in order to access it without typing in
complex web addresses. Remember to check the content of
the site regularly to ensure that it hasn’t changed since your
last visit.
• Use ‘floating tools’ to add notes and annotations over any
page on your computer screen: whether using wordprocessing software, presentation software or the internet,
you can highlight text and use different coloured pens to
add comments to any page that appears on your screen.
• Try to create documents where you do not need to scroll
up and down – instead of three paragraphs on one page,
add one paragraph to three pages. Space your work well to
leave room for annotations and comments, which can be
retained if you don’t need to scroll up and down the
• If you are creating pages for pupils to use, place text into the
lower two thirds of the page. This enables pupils to reach
the items they need more easily.
• If you have annotated work during the introductory phase
of the lesson, save the file to the network drive using an
appropriate name so that pupils can access it when they are
working on it later. Teach them to save their files with
appropriate names so that they can find and demonstrate
their work during a review activity or plenary session.
Classroom management issues and examples
• When creating your own presentations use royalty-free
images and sounds to illustrate teaching points and/or to
provide a stimulus for a discussion. A picture can be worth a
thousand words!
• Give consideration to the individual access needs of your
pupils. High-contrast colours, personal and mirroring
devices, and different teaching practices can help ensure
that all pupils can benefit from the learning experiences
offered by interactive whiteboards.
Adapted from Tips for using your whiteboard
“I've had my whiteboard for over three years. As I
started using it, I quickly decided that I'd use it for
everything and dispensed with OHPs [overhead
projectors] and use of the normal whiteboard. It took
some time to convert and transfer all my resources
and now I only prepare things with the whiteboard
in mind.
I believe that the interactive whiteboard has added a
new dimension to my teaching, bringing many
advantages, which include:
• a new way to teach mathematics with an emphasis
on colour and movement
• improved precision at the board, with, for example,
the use of grids
• board software that allows you to draw straight
lines easily
• an increased use of discussion as the board can be
Classroom management issues and examples
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
used effectively to collect and sift ideas
• an increased use of prediction and conjecture as
you can use the board to predict results and then
see what actually happens.
In addition, all my mathematics software is
immediately available since a computer is part of
the package. I initially overlooked this obvious
Mathematics teacher (secondary)
“I think access to digital resources is having a
dramatic effect on my pupils’ understanding of
scientific concepts. With animations, I can bring static
images to life and model how something works. In
physics, for example, I’ve used the whiteboard to work
with a website called How Stuff Works
htm] to explain how positively and negatively
charged particles are used in photocopying and
printing. The animation gives a step-by-step
sequence of events.
In another lesson, I’ve got pupils looking at how ice
turns into steam when heated, through using a
particular software package that has large, clear,
colourful diagrams. The heat source is applied by
using a control on the side of page and pupils watch
the variations in the speed at which the particles
move. By the end of the lesson, I know if they have a
clear understanding of the concepts involved.
I also use digital video for my ‘master classes’ where I
stretch the pupils further than they would normally
be able to by introducing them to more interesting,
dangerous experiments using digital video that I run
from the school network. I can pause the clip, ask
questions, encourage the pupils to hypothesise, and
the size of the board means that everyone in the class
has a clear view.“
Science teacher (secondary)
Developing your teaching strategies with interactive
This section describes how the use of the technology can
replace existing teaching approaches by transforming
teaching and accelerating progress in children’s learning.
Hooper and Rieber (1995) describe five different levels of
adoption of technology in the classroom. These phases
include familiarisation, utilisation, integration, reorientation,
and evolution. Overleaf we use these levels to consider
progression in teacher practice with whiteboard technology.
These stages should not be seen as discrete development
points or as some sort of hierarchy of competence in using
the whiteboard in subject teaching. Teachers cover many
different areas of learning and are having to develop many
new techniques to successfully integrate this technology with
their classroom practice.
“The use of boards in geography is transforming
what we experience – not only because of the visual
Classroom management issues and examples
At the level of familiarisation, the teacher is first exposed to
an interactive whiteboard, for example, at a training session or
during a whole-school Inset session. At this stage, the teacher
gains an appreciation of what the technology can offer but
does not have the opportunity to put this into action in a
sustained way. It could be that although the teacher has an
interest, they do not necessarily have appropriate access to
the technology in their classroom. It could also be due to the
fact that the teacher has received some training on the
technical functionality of the board but has yet to understand
its potential in terms of interaction and intervention. Teachers
in this phase may be using the technology to support simple
visual demonstration to the class.
Teachers in the next stage, utilisation, start to introduce the
technology into the classroom environment with more regular
frequency, but are replacing techniques and teaching strategies
they would have previously used without the interactive
technology. At this stage the teacher is replacing classroom
resources such as an overhead digital projector connected to a
computer or flipchart, but using the technology at this stage
can still increase the efficiency or effectiveness of teaching and
learning.The ability to annotate on screen, the clarity of text, the
ability to save changes to work and the ease at which
resources can be amended and adapted all contribute to
improved learning. If technical problems occur, however, the
teacher readily drops the technology as the value added is not
sufficient to sustain interest.
nature of the boards but using this to access the
internet where we can have sound and images from
The integration or ‘breakthough’
stage is characterised by a teacher
who has made the commitment to
use the interactive technology and
considers it an indispensable part of
high-quality teaching and learning. A
teacher at this level integrates the
technology into their lesson planning
and everyday teaching. The
'expendability' of the technology is
the most critical attribute or
characteristic of this stage. For many
teachers this phase marks the
beginning of an exciting path of
professional development and desire
to move even further in integrating
the technology.
Classroom management issues and examples
The fourth level is reorientation.
Teachers at this level are seen as ‘lead
learners’, continuing to learn through
opportunities offered by this
technology along with the pupils.
They are beginning to explore what
ICT has to offer and are excited by
the development of their teaching
strategies and the new opportunities
that the interactive whiteboard offers
them to extend their teaching and
the pupils’ learning.
Teachers in the evolution level take this
idea one step further by continuing to
evolve and adapt the teaching and
learning experiences across the
curriculum through the use of this
technology.The teacher has created a
flexible environment that is adaptive in
order to meet the needs of individual
learners.The teacher is confident in
integrating ideas and a range of
electronic resources to meet the needs of
the learners.They are able to provide for
the various needs of different learning
styles and remain open-minded to new
ideas and developments.They continually
search for new strategies to improve the
learning experiences offered to the pupils.
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
around the world.
the wider applicability of such evidence.
Rather than just talking about glaciation, we can click
on a map and see what glaciers look like. Instead of
discussing in a hypothetical sense a country like Brazil,
we can look at a selection of images showing
everything from rain forests to favelas; discussing the
positive and negative aspects of the country, the people
and the economy.We can see videos of lava flow and
animations of a plane flying over a mountain with
contours drawn on the side.
This section provides findings from two main sources:
Being able to use a whiteboard in geography really
does bring the world into the classroom. I wouldn’t do
it any other way now.”
Geography teacher (secondary)
What the research says about
interactive whiteboards
About the research literature
As interactive whiteboards are a relatively recent technology,
there is not a great deal of literature relating to them in
refereed academic journals. However, there are a number of
research projects that have been undertaken by schools and
LEAs, reports from which are often available on the internet.
These projects often include surveys of teachers’ and
students’ perceptions of interactive whiteboards.
The number of articles in the educational press and even
national newspapers also shows the high level of interest in
interactive whiteboards, though these articles tend to focus
on anecdotal evidence and advice. It should be noted that
although most of this coverage presents a very positive view
of interactive whiteboards, as each school’s needs are
different, it is important to exercise judgement in assessing
• Becta’s analysis of the existing literature with key findings
• Interim findings from Embedding ICT In The Literacy and
Numeracy Strategies Evaluation, written by the University of
Newcastle upon Tyne.
Becta’s analysis of the existing literature
On the basis of Becta’s analysis of the literature, interactive
whiteboards are seen to have positive effects on teaching and
learning in the areas outlined below. There are references for
further reading supplied alongside most of the findings, and
full bibliographic details are available in the appendix.
General benefits
• Versatility, with applications for all ages across the
curriculum (Smith, A., 1999)
• increased teaching time, because teachers are able to
present web-based and other resources more efficiently
(Walker, 2003)
• More opportunities for interaction and discussion in the
classroom, especially compared to other forms of ICT
(Gerard et al., 1999)
• Increased enjoyment of lessons for both students and
teachers through more varied and dynamic use of
resources, with associated gains in motivation (Levy, 2002)
Benefits for teachers
• Greater opportunities to integrate ICT in lessons while
teaching from the front of the class (Smith, H., 2001)
• Increased spontaneity and flexibility, since teachers can
draw on and annotate a wide range of web-based resources
(Kennewell, 2001)
• Teachers can save and print what is on the board, including
any notes made during the lesson, reducing duplication of
effort and facilitating revision (Walker, 2002)
What the research says about interactive whiteboards
• Teachers are able to share and re-use materials, reducing
workloads (Glover and Miller, 2001)
• Widely reported to be easy to use, particularly compared with
using a computer in whole-class teaching (Smith, H., 2001)
• Inspiration to teachers to change their pedagogy and use more
ICT, encouraging professional development (Smith, A., 1999)
Benefits for students
• Increased enjoyment and motivation, giving greater
opportunities for participation and collaboration,
developing students’ personal and social skills (Levy, 2002)
• Reduced need for note taking because users can save and
print what appears on the board. Students are able to cope
with more complex concepts as a result of clearer, more
efficient and more dynamic presentation (Smith, H., 2001)
• Different learning styles can be accommodated as teachers
can call on a variety of resources to suit particular needs
(Bell, 2002)
• Students can be more creative in presentations to their
classmates, increasing self-confidence (Levy, 2002)
• Students do not have to use a keyboard to engage with the
technology, increasing access for younger children and
students with disabilities (Goodison, 2002)
Factors for effective use
• Teachers need sufficient access to whiteboards so they are
able to gain confidence and embed their use in their
teaching (Levy, 2002)
• Whiteboards should be used by students as well as teachers
(Kennewell, 2001)
• Training must be appropriate to the individual needs of
teachers (Levy, 2002)
• Teachers need sufficient time to become confident users
and build up a range of resources to use in their teaching
(Glover and Miller, 2001)
• Ideas and resources need to be shared among teachers
(Levy, 2002)
What the research says about interactive whiteboards
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
• Whiteboards need to be positioned in the classroom to
avoid sunlight and obstructions between the projector and
the board (Smith, H., 2001)
• A high level of reliability and technical support is available,
to minimise problems when they occur (Levy, 2002)
Explanation of findings
As with ICT more generally, positive impacts depend on the
ways in which interactive whiteboards are used. Although the
literature on this technology is still emerging, there is evidence
of good practice and positive outcomes across the curriculum.
Glover and Miller (2001) found that whiteboards were
used to:
• increase efficiency, enabling teachers to draw upon a variety
of ICT-based resources without disruption or loss of pace
• extend learning, using more engaging materials to explain
• transform learning, creating new learning styles stimulated
by interaction with the whiteboard.
While the efficiency of whiteboards is an important advantage
– in one school, teachers found they could significantly
increase teaching time (Walker, 2003) – it is their use to extend
and transform learning that results in the greatest gains. The
literature gives numerous examples of such use in areas as
diverse as literacy and numeracy (Smith, H., 2001), modern
foreign languages (Gerard et al., 1999) and special educational
needs (Carter, 2002).
Increased motivation in pupils is seen as a key benefit of
whiteboards. Reasons for this include:
• their presentational capabilities – websites and video can be
incorporated seamlessly in teaching
• the high level of interaction – pupils enjoy interacting
physically with the board, manipulating text and images
• the capacity to present and discuss pupils’ work – focusing
on pupil-originated material helps keep the class on task
and raises self-esteem.
Allowing pupils to use the whiteboards so they engage with
learning materials is therefore vital in increasing motivation
and learning gains (Kennewell, 2001). Studies report that
motivational gains diminish as the whiteboards become more
familiar, although pupils tend to view their educational impact
more positively the more they are used (STCC, 2002).
Demands on teachers
Teachers have found interactive whiteboards relatively easy to
use, but becoming confident in their use takes commitment in
terms of both training and independent exploration.
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 that the whiteboards engender in pupils,
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 that this is currently underused (Glover and Miller, 2001).
Practical issues
Teachers are hesitant about changing their pedagogy to
incorporate interactive whiteboards if practical considerations
hinder their use. Key factors include:
• ease of access – the whiteboards need to be a regular part
of classroom practice if they are to be fully exploited
(Greiffenhagen, 2000)
• reliability – studies report varying, though generally high, levels
of reliability; the role of whiteboards in lesson delivery makes it
essential that teachers have confidence in the board, its
network connection and the provision of technical support
• visibility – problems can occur where sunlight shines
directly onto the board (Levy, 2002)
• positioning – the board should be mounted at a suitable
height and the computer and projector positioned to
What the research says about interactive whiteboards
minimise the risk posed by trailing wires (Smith, H., 2001).
Research suggests that consulting teachers at an early stage
can reduce practical difficulties and ensure the technology
meets the school’s pedagogical needs.
Value for money
The cost of interactive whiteboards makes value for money an
important consideration. Only if they are used to extend and
transform learning can their cost be justified relative to cheaper
solutions such as plasma screens, or data projectors and
conventional boards. Research indicates that while some
teachers are making full use of interactive whiteboards, this is
not yet generally the case. In one study (Glover and Miller, 2001)
teachers were equally enthusiastic about lower-cost options.
These findings are taken from the Becta document, What the
research says about interactive whiteboards.This series, aimed at
teachers and school leaders, provides summaries of the
available research evidence of the uses and effects of various
types of ICT in schools and colleges. A PDF version of this paper
is available from the research area of the Becta website
Embedding ICT in the Literacy and Numeracy
Strategies Evaluation
This research project, based at the University of Newcastle
upon Tyne and running for two years from November 2002 to
November 2004, is evaluating the use of interactive
whiteboards for literacy and numeracy across six pilot LEAs. It
is specifically examining the impact of classroom interaction,
the impact on pupil attainment, progress and attitudes, and
the impact on teachers’ perceptions.
The study has so far involved observation of 116 lessons
taught by 31 teachers. Most teachers were observed four
times: once teaching mathematics with an interactive
whiteboard, and once without, once teaching literacy with an
interactive whiteboard, and once without. These observations
took place just a few weeks or months after the interactive
whiteboards had been installed and should be interpreted
What the research says about interactive whiteboards
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
with this in mind.
Observations will be repeated with the same classes of pupils
and the same teachers in Spring 2004, with a report on the
pilot later in 2004, together with an analysis of attainment data
in pilot schools.
Learning and Teaching School of Education, Communication
and Language Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
These findings are reproduced with permission from the Primary
Strategy and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Preliminary analysis of the observations indicate the following
• More time was spent on whole-class teaching in lessons
with an interactive whiteboard.
• In whiteboard lessons there were fewer pauses or
interruptions. There were also more answers from pupils and
these answers tended to last longer. The teachers used
fewer explanations and asked fewer uptake questions.
• There were no significant differences in participation by
boys and girls in whiteboard and non-whiteboard lessons.
Although boys were more likely to be asked and to answer
questions, to be the target of a refocusing remark, or an
explanation from the teacher and to offer spontaneous
contribution, these patterns of behaviour were similar in
lessons with an interactive whiteboard and those without.
This finding is different from the perceptions of teachers
and consultants and will be pursued through interviews
and the second set of observations.
• There were some characteristic differences between literacy
and mathematics lessons (both those with and those
without an interactive whiteboard). The use of the
interactive whiteboard did not significantly alter these
general characteristics. There were significantly more closed
questions and fewer open questions in mathematics
lessons. Teachers were more likely to repeat a question in a
mathematics lesson and pursue a response (uptake
question) in a literacy lesson. Pupils answered more
questions in mathematics lessons. These patterns of
difference between literacy and mathematics lessons are
similar to those found in other research.
Higgins et al., (2003), update report October 2003, Centre for
What the research says about interactive whiteboards
Further information, advice
and guidance
Becta website information
In 2003 Becta managed a procurement exercise to identify
and award a number of framework contracts to suppliers who
would provide a range of interactive whiteboard packages
(board, projector, delivery, installation and basic operational
training and software, telephone and email support, and
three-year on-site support) to a minimum specification at a
competitive price and to a reliable quality standard.
The website provides:
• an online interactive whiteboard package catalogue
• supporting information
• links to other sources of information.
The catalogue (going live in late January 2004) shows the
range of boards, projectors and services on offer from each
supplier. Becta monitors the online catalogue and provides
price and specification updates. It also provides ongoing
Further information, advice and guidance
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
contract management and supplier performance monitoring
for the duration of the contract period.
Other sources of information, advice and guidance include:
ICT Advice Services
Becta’s ICT Advice services offer a wide range of services to
support teachers in their use of ICT in the classroom.
Information about ICT and technologies, together with
practical help, resources and inspirational ideas, aim to help all
teachers to get the best out of ICT.
The Independent ICT Procurement Advisory Service for
schools (IPAS) provides guidance for purchasing ICT products
and services. Their website contains advice, guidance,
interactive learning resources and template documents to
help schools make decisions about buying ICT equipment,
understand how to use best procurement practices and
gather information about what they want to buy. It will also
help schools to identify and record total cost of ownership
factors, manage suppliers and monitor purchases.
REVIEW Project
The REVIEW Project (Research and Evaluation of Interactive,
Electronic Whiteboards) is a two-year research project, based
at the University of Hull and funded by Nesta (National
Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and
Promethean Ltd. The project has undertaken observations of
more than 200 lessons in all subjects and phases and will be
disseminating findings and advice from this work in an audiovisual CD-ROM, available in February 2004.
Further information, advice and guidance
Appendix: Bibliography and
further reading
Bell, M. (2002),‘Why use an interactive whiteboard? A baker’s
dozen reasons!’ Teachers.Net Gazette, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2002. (accessed 22
January 2003).
Carter, A. (2002), Using interactive whiteboards with deaf children.
whiteboards/index.htm (accessed 22 January 2003).
Gerard, F. et al. (1999), Using SMART Board in foreign language
classrooms. Paper presented at SITE 99: Society for Information
Technology and Teacher Education International Conference, San
Antonio, Texas, 28 February - 4 March 1999.
Goodison, T. (2002),‘Learning with ICT at primary level: pupils’
perceptions’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, No. 18,
Glover, D. and Miller, D. (2001),‘Running with technology: the
pedagogic impact of the large-scale introduction of
interactive whiteboards in one secondary school’, Journal of
Information Technology for Teacher Education, Vol. 10, No. 3,
Appendix: Bibliography and further reading
Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard A guide for secondary schools
Greiffenhagen, C. (2000). From traditional blackboards to
interactive whiteboards: A pilot study to inform system design.
Proceedings of the Conference of the International Group for the
Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME), Hiroshima, Japan,
23-27 July 2000, Vol. 2.
Hooper, S. and Rieber, L. (1995),‘Teaching with technology’ in A.
Ornstein (Ed.), Teaching: Theory into practice. Boston, MA: Allyn
and Bacon, pp.154-170.
Kennewell, S. (2001),‘Interactive whiteboards – yet another
solution looking for a problem to solve?’ Information
Technology in Teacher Education, 39, Autumn 2001, pp.3-6.
Levy, P. (2002), Interactive whiteboards in learning and teaching in
two Sheffield schools: a developmental study. Sheffield:
Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield.
Smith, A. (1999), Interactive whiteboard evaluation. MirandaNet. (accessed
22 January 2003).
Smith, H. (2001), SmartBoard evaluation: final report. Kent NGfL.
(accessed 22 January 2003).
South Texas Community College (STCC) (2002), Student
perceptions of the use and educational value of technology at the
STCC, Starr County Campus.
Perceptions_Technology.pdf (accessed 22 January 2003).
Walker, D. (2002), White enlightening, Times Educational
Supplement, 13 September 2002, p.19.
Walker, D. (2003), Quality at the dockside, TES Online, 3 January
2003, pp.66-67.
While every care has been taken in the compilation of this information to ensure
that it is accurate at the time of publication, Becta cannot be held responsible for
any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any error or inaccuracy
within these pages. Although all references to external sources (including any sites
linked to the Becta site) are checked both at the time of compilation and on a
regular basis, Becta does not accept any responsibility for or otherwise endorse
any product or information contained in these pages including any sources cited.
British Educational Communications
and Technology Agency (Becta)
© Becta 2004
You may reproduce this material, free of charge in any format or medium without
specific permission, provided you are not reproducing it for profit, material or
financial gain.
You must reproduce the material accurately and not use it in a misleading context. If
you are republishing the material or issuing it to others, you must acknowledge its
source, copyright status and date of publication.
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