Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why Are We Wasting Money on Interactive Whiteboards?

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Numerous educators have questioned the value of interactive whiteboards. One outspoken educator is Bill Ferriter, a 6th grade language arts teacher, who has been named a Teacher of the Year in North Carolina. He has posted several articles speaking against these whiteboards. Recently in May, he posted this one: Why Are We Still Wasting Money on Whiteboards? In this post, he mentions a school principal who invested $18,000 on 6 interactive whiteboards. Ferriter offers several suggestions of how this money could have been better spent to put technology directly into the hands of students. Review his list, and determine if you agree with his priorities. If you were a school principal, how would you spend $18,000 for technology? Do you think we are wasting money on interactive whiteboards? If you use them in your teaching, what positive effects have you seen on student learning that make them worth the investment? On the other hand, have you found that they sit idle or are used as simple chalk boards? What on Ferriter’s list of technologies would you opt for, if at all, over the purchase of interactive whiteboards?

There are plenty of comments following Ferriter’s blog. Take some time to read what others have also had to say about interactive whiteboards. Do you agree with the commentaries? Which ones speak to you?


Johanna said...

Wow! This guy sure loves to hate on interactive whiteboards! Whereas I can see his side of the argument that many teachers misuse or even worse, don't use their whiteboards in effective ways, I have to throw in my two cents in favor of these teaching tools. I think we could argue that any new and exciting technology that comes into our hands is "unnessecary" and that we could just as easily get the same job done using a more traditional method or tool (in this case, the chalkboard or overhead projector). But honestly, what third grader has ever thought "Wow! That was a killer overhead projector lesson!!?" Amidst the screeching and dust of chalkboards, tear-jerking chemical smells of regular whiteboard markers, and the hot, dull drone of an ancient overhead projector unit, I challenge you to find a student who isn't motivated by the current, interactive qualities of a SMARTboard or other interactive whiteboard. My 3rd grade students love to come up and use the SMARTboard to share their learning and research, proofread and edit writing, and share great new websites and web 2.0 learning tools. They may just be really expensive, "over-glorified chalkboards," but in the right hands, I think they can be extremely effective and engaging teaching and learning tools.

Diana Coyne said...

I have to agree with Johanna-I love my interactive white board! I have a mimio board instead of a SMART board, which is very similar-and cheaper. I applaud the points being made about putting technology in the students' hands, and I agree, I would love to have every student in my class have an itouch, or tablet or better yet a laptop- however I feel that the IWB is a great tool as well. As much as we like to slam direct teaching, and personally I'm not a fan- there are times where it is necessary and the IWB allows it to be more engaging and then it also eases the scaffolding for guided practice. I use my IWB on almost a daily basis for my "Do Now," which allows students to participate in the review of answers- by dragging, highlighting etc. I notice a lot less eager participation in completing the "Do Now" when students know that they won't be coming up to the IWB to do anything. I also have been able to use the IWB with my Social Studies textbook on CD. I have had a lot of great success with helping my students dissect the textbook language- using the IWB. I HATE using my textbook because it is a "frustration level text" for 1/2 of my students. However, I still feel responsible for teaching them how to read and get information from a textbook. The IWB allows students to come up to the board and highlight text, cross out text etc. I have found that this takes a really difficult concept (summarizing, finding the main idea etc.) and makes it more engaging and fun. So while I understand the desire to get technology in the students' hands, I think completely discrediting IWB is not recognizing how they can also empower students.

Chuck said...

After reading this article, the teacher proved he has a strong opinion on IWB. He provides multiple options of how to spend the money. With any purchase for a school, you can argue what you could have bought with $18,000.00. They could have bought air conditioning for a couple classrooms or had wifi set up for the school, however, we do not know if the school would have utilized the netbooks or Ipads.

Most likely, the teachers in the school will be using IWB on a daily basis and can integrate them into their classroom's curriculum on day 1. These will be getting use right away. However, I think it would have been a waste of funds if they bought the netbooks and the school's teachers did not know how to use them in their classroom. If the netbooks sat in a corner the whole year or only were used for free time, that would be a waste of money. Schools need to be able to provide tools such as Ipads or netbooks, but also need to make sure they will be used. There needs to be money put into professional development for teachers to be informed of how to take advantage of the new tools in the classroom. If the 18k could only buy computers for half the classes, who will choose who can use them. Who knows when 18k will come around again. At least with IWB, maybe all the classes could benefit from the funds and be able to use them in the classroom.

Melissa said...

This is an interesting argument! I have never had the opportunity to use an IWB, but I have witnessed many teachers complaining they do not have an IWB in their classroom. I think there is a lot of hype behind these tools because they are visually appealing and interactive, and that’s all they will be if teachers do not know how to utilize all the features. The same goes for investing money in any technology, if you don’t know how to use the resource then it isn’t very helpful.

If I were to spend $18,000 on technology I would invest in lap tops or iPads for students to use. Bill Ferriter made a valid point that purchasing such resources place technology in the hands of students rather than the teachers. After reading some of the comments on Bill’s blog it seems as though many people are anti-IWB. Overall, I think it simply comes down to whether or not teachers know how to use the technology efficiently.

Meghan said...

Wow, I must say that I completely disagree with Bill Ferriter. I think SmartBoards are a revelation in the classroom!! I remember as a student, my interest in whatever we were learning went up TENFOLD because we were given a 1X1 piece of white board with a marker!
Students need hands on learning, and the SmartBoard is such a great tool in the classroom to ensure that everyone can participate. Students love being able to interact with lessons through these tools.
I believe Bill makes some interesting points about spending the $18,000 in other places, but in reality I think that getting 6 of these amazing boards for 3 grand each is just a drop in the bucket compared to how much other educational tools cost. (Including textbooks that are already outdated once they reach our shelves!)
The SmartBoard is wonderful, and I hope I am so lucky to ever have one in my own classroom, one day!

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