Learning Together with the Interactive White Board

Learning Together with the Interactive White Board

Linda Larson (McNeese State University, USA) and Sharon Vanmetre (McNeese State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-826-0.ch005
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Interactive whiteboards (IWB) are the latest technology trend in schools and businesses. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss how social software and IWB technology promotes active engagement and interactive content delivery. Using IWB technology users are able to interact, collaborate, and evaluate. To implement the IWB effectively, there are numerous issues to address: professional development, interactivity, feedback, collaboration, and the future of the IWB.
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IWBs or Internet–age chalkboards are giant touch sensitive boards that control a computer connected to a digital projector. They are all the rage among teachers. At first glance, it looks very much like a dry erase whiteboard. IWBs were first developed for business (Greiffenhagen, 2002) and the technology is relatively new to education. Teachers struggling to engage students raised on the web find this innovative technology an essential classroom tool. The U. K. has placed a high priority on implementing IWBs and 70% of all primary and secondary classrooms have IWBs compared to just 16% in the United States (Philips, 2008). The price tag for the IWB is about $3,000.00, and teachers find many creative ways to raise the funds to purchase this highly coveted piece of technology. Several companies sell interactive whiteboards, including Hitachi, Panasonic, Mimio, Promethean, and Smart Technologies.

IWB systems provide the user with a variety of software and hardware tools to aid in interaction with the board. The software allows the user to create interactive lessons, activities, and multimedia presentations. The software not only allows the users to write text or display users graphics on the board as they would on a traditional chalkboard but also extends the media possibilities with audio, video, and hyperlink capabilities. By hyperlinking to other pages within the presentation, other documents on- and off-line, as well as other software applications, the user can manipulate the content as needed.

In some IWB systems, the physical touch of a finger or hand activates the sensitive areas of the board. For other systems, a pen or wand is used to activate available options. The pen, which is similar to a stylus, usually has a pressure sensitive tip to act as the left mouse key and a button on the body of the pen to generate right-key action. The wand or ‘extended reach’ device has similar abilities but with a longer range for accessing hard to reach areas.

Slates and/or tablets are also used by IWB systems to allow for interaction with the board without close physical proximity to the board. The users can access anything on the board even usersfrom the back of the room as long as they have the IWB in view. This allows for quick interaction between students while they remain at their individual desks. The slate also allows the teacher, from perhaps the back of the room, to interject and assist students who are at the board with an IWB activity.

Use of IWB is often supplemented with response tools such as handheld voting, and texting devices are individual response systems used exclusively with the IWB to encourage student participation while allowing quick assessment of content knowledge. Students communicate with each other and the teacher in named and un-named modes. The anonymous capability of the response tools allows the student to respond without the fear of an incorrect answer. The students are able to type in their responses from anywhere in the room without fear of embarrassment. The teacher is able to determine the percentage of the class that has selected correctly and the percentage that has not and continue the discussion based on that analysis.

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