An initial first draft of the new National Curriculum programme of study for ICT is now on the
Although now ubiquitous in almost every classroom, I can't say I have ever been entirely sold on the value of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) as tools for learning. Although they undoubtedly have great potential in the hands of confident users, they also provide a perfect pretext for a didactically inclined teacher to become even more didactic. The 'bells and whistles' offered by software, such as Smart Notebook, can result in all manner of supposedly interactive activities being inflicted on children - in practice, such activities punctuate long periods of passivity with a few opportunities for chosen children to push on-screen buttons or drag and drop icons or text.
At best, IWBs can provide visual support for the explanation of complex concepts and allow engaging multimedia resources to be shared by a whole class. They can provide a focus and a context for dialogic teaching and a way of sharing and modelling ICT skills. At worst, IWBs are expensive equivalents of chalkboards (with the same issues in relation to modelling handwriting and letter formation) and cumbersome throwbacks that are peripheral to the really exciting developments in educational technology, which centre on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. At a time when, at last, we can realise the personalised potential of one-computer-per-learner, has the IWB got a role to play?
Below are some links to resources and research about interactive whiteboards. One or two make the case for and against, so you can make up your own mind!
Below are some Smart Notebook 11 files created as part of a time limited task by PGCE (Early Years) students. All address EYFS or key stage one objectives and illustrate how the IWB can be used to provide visual support for teacher explanations - please take a look. I am sure the students would appreciate your comments.
Tony Pickford is a tutor and writer on primary education.