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#Edchat: Do Interactive Whiteboards really promote Interactivity in the classroom?

This is the answer hundreds of teachers wanted to respond in the regular #edchat held all Tuesdays on Twitter. It is true that teachers sometimes are reluctant to change and as Devia Stefaan puts it in this comment, the change needs to come from the inside of teachers and institutions.

Mary Ann Bell agrees the Whiteboard is interactive. (IWB) Users can be contributing directly by input both at the computer and at the board, she writes, to refer just one of her dozen reasons she thinks IWBs are a success. "The interaction that transpires between the person at the computer, the users at the board, and the computer itself is a unique and very adaptable arrangement," Bell concludes.

For people who may still be unfamiliar with the term, an IWB is a large display that connects to a computer and a projector.

Robert J. Marzano is an authority in IWBs. In his Final report on the evaluation of the Promethean technology, he (along to Haystead, M.) found that even when these tools have become popular over the last few years, "in 23 percent of the cases, teachers had better results without the interactive whiteboards."

Some of the most interesting tweets we grabbed out of the #edchat, were:

1. I prefer to use the term "Interactive" as exchange between persons OR mutual manipulation. IWB tends to be one way - @mattguthrie
2. With all technology a lot of hands-on PD is necessary. Teachers need training to learn how to foster interactivity. @cybraryman1
3. The "interactive" part of the IWB is between content and user. Student interaction depends on good design -like all other instr @geraldaungst
4. Without teacher training and support Interactive White Boards will be more of a white Elephant. @tomwhitby
5. The term 'interactive' in IWB refers to intellectual interactivity rather than physical interactivity... yes?? @Mrs_Dem

Conclusion: IWBs will promote interactivity in the classroom but it is limited to availability of equipment, the presence of a well trained faculty and the wish of all school involucrates to move out of the comfort zone.

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  1. Thanks so much for posting this! I wasn't able to get to the #edchat until about 7:30 pm, and this really helps me to understand the overall discussion.

  2. Ok, everyone is entitled to whatever opinion they want about this technology, and there will always be controversy as people try to look for the magic bullet that will fix all teaching ills.

    I can deal with people's differences of opinion regarding IWBs, but it really galls me when I read biased, inaccurate reporting, and this article is a fine example of this.

    For a start, it's a short article that tells us almost nothing. But it annoys me when you mention Marzano's research and link to it with the provocative statement "he found that even when these tools have become popular over the last few years, "in 23 percent of the cases, teachers had better results without the interactive whiteboards.""

    Yes, that quote does exist in the article, but it's taken completely out of context. He goes on to explain WHY such performance dips occurred and in all cases it is directly related to poor teaching practice and lousy pedagogy.

    The Marzano research also found that...

    "in general, using interactive whiteboards was associated with a 16 percentile point gain in student achievement."

    "Using voting devices was associated with a 26 percentile point gain in student achievement."

    "A second feature is the use of graphics and other visuals to represent information. Use of these aids was also associated with a 26 percentile point gain in student achievement."

    "A third feature is the interactive whiteboard reinforcer... These practices were associated with a 31 percentile point gain in student achievement."

    ... all of which were conveniently left out of your article, giving it a much more negative spin than the truth requires.

    Yes, he does go on to that in 23% of cases there are performance dips, and he provides qualitative observations as to why this occurred, all related to teaching practice.

    How about the headline "Bad teaching results in poor student performance"? Or would that just be too obvious?

    In an environment where this technology is still poorly understood by so many, it would be more responsible of you to provide a far more balanced approach to your journalism, giving us all the facts rather than focusing on a single negative one.

  3. @Teri. It is a very succinct commentary.

    @Chris. I always appreciate when people takes the time to drop me a comment and more when those notes are to criticize what we do.

    I am not going to contradict you about how biased is the post. It has to be because when want to present one side of the story. It is accurate by means of low results of IWBs ( as well as low percentage, did you notice?).

    The headline may be different, too. However, we did want to attract our readers suggesting the edchat topic and it wasn't our intention to mislead our readers.

    Is is our practice to present short posts, inaccurate or not. But you just complete, for what we are in debt.

    There are thousands of blogs to read, this is only one of them. We are taking responsibility for no quoting what you consider essential but we strongly believe the suggestive statement is in the right place.

  4. Milton, the problem is that you present this site as a news site, when in fact it is a blog site. It gives the appearance of conveying "news" which should be unbiased, balanced, neutral and fair.

    Blogs, on the other hand are based on opinion, viewpoint and personal belief.

    To portray personal viewpoint as news is just plain misleading. You even admit in your prior comment that the post is biased. You claim it is accurate because it uses one of the stated facts from the article, but my whole point is that it also neglected to mention several contradictory facts. By definition, it is NOT accurate reporting.

    I have read plenty of anti-IWB blog posts, and have no problem with them. I do have a very real problem with unbiased reporting of opinion as though it is news.

  5. The bottom line is that a board (or any piece of technology) doesn't exist in a vacuum. We must have teachers who use the tools to engage. This is true whether the new technology is a pencil or an IWB. It is all about the "how" we use it.