If there ever was a term perfectly suited to describe me it is the expression digital immigrant. As my receding hairline states, I was born long before the advent of the Internet and I am sometimes at quite a loss in regards to everything technological. So today, I will try to tear apart the veil of mystery that still surrounds, at least in my case, interactive white boards.
Interactive white boards are tools which show great promise. Industry leaders make videos showing how great they are and how much students love to use them. As I watched this video and attempted to go pass the propaganda, I realized that in order for an interactive white board to be useful, it had to be used in an interactive way. The children in this video have a great time using an interactive white board because they can use it together and their answers show up instantly as they slide them on the device. This seems to me as the optimal use of a white board: both interactive and collective and there lies the challenge. Many of the YouTube videos I have watched, show how teachers get their students involved by using the interactive white board ONE AT A TIME. Teachers must make sure that interactive white boards are used in an interactive way. The worst case scenario is that of a teacher speaking to a board without the students getting to actually play with it.
An important caveat with interactive white boards (and that has been backed up by my 15 year old stepson) : students are usually better at using interactive boards than their teachers. This makes perfect sense, middle school and high school students are “Digital Natives“, digital tools, whatever they are, come very naturally to them. In this case, not only do teacher have to accept that they are not the experts, but also that their students might be able to show them quite a lot.
Finally, I think that interactive white boards are a great tool that teachers need to master. However, teachers will have to accept that their students know more about interactive white boards than they do and they will have to find a way to get several students use this tool simultaneously. Because if students can only use the interactive white board one after the other, then this takes the interactive out of the equation.