Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Interactive White Boards

I didn't notice, but back in January the DfES published a fairly large scale evaluation of the use of Interactive Whiteboards in the Secondary Schools of London. The study undertaken by academics from the Institute of Education can be found here. The London Evening Standard commented here.

The conclusions of the 164 page report will be a disappointment to those in Government but no surprise to those of us a little closer to what was once known as the chalk face. Throwing technology into classrooms without preparation doesn't work. It would appear that IWBs are not the answer to what ever question it was that the Government asked. The final sentence of the concluding paragraph reads

"there is no evidence of any impact of the increase in IWB usage in London schools in the academic year 2004/5 on attainment in the three core subjects."

The report should be carefully read by all of us concerned with using technology to assist / develop teaching and learning.
Here are a few quotations

"When use of the technological tools took precedence over a clear understanding of pedagogic purpose, the technology was not exploited in a way that would or could substantially enhance subject learning. (p7)"

"There are potentially some drawbacks to the ways in which IWBs are currently being used. The technology can:
  • Reinforce a transmission style of whole class teaching in which the contents of the board multiply and go faster, whilst pupils are increasingly reduced to a largely spectator role;
  • Reduce interactivity to what happens at the board, not what happens in the classroom."
Those with responsibility for the rollout of the technology and training for best practice in its use need to be aware of these dangers and help refocus discussion amongst colleagues on their pedagogic aims so that teachers harness what the technology itself can do in the light of their broader pedagogic purposes. (p8)"

As a refugee from the primary sector I was delighted to read

"the use of IWBs in secondary schools may look very different from the predominant uses of IWBs found in primary schools, particularly in relation to the amount of control pupils are invited to exercise over the technology. We think that KS 3 Consultants might benefit from working with KS 2 consultants to identify both similarities and differences in use so that this can feed into CPD in both areas. (p60)."

Underlying this report however is a core issue, the staff using these IWBs have just not been sufficiently trained in their use, as Seb Schmoller notes :-

"used badly they reinforce bad teaching and may detract from good teaching: and in some circumstances they slow down rather than speed up learning"

When will they learn?
If technology is dropped from a great height it always breaks.

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