Education Opinion

Interactive Whiteboard Redemption

By Patrick Ledesma — October 25, 2010 5 min read
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Are you not maximizing your Interactive Whiteboard? Or, perhaps, you know an educator who’s Interactive Whiteboard sits unconnected to the computer? Do the unused colored “digital” pens and fake eraser sitting on the tray beneath your Interactive Whiteboard serve as daily unpleasant reminders of how you are not using your technology to its full potential?

It’s OK. I understand what it’s like not to use all the features of a technology device.

I am reminded of this every time in my home when I go to the laundry room in my basement. I walk past my high tech- elliptical tread mill. There it sits, dusty and unused. All its digital capabilities and features of tracking my heart rate, calories burned, distance covered, and time spent exercising completely turned off. The protective clear sticker is still on the display panel.

My unused treadmill technology mocks me as I walk by on my way to the washer and dryer. I feel guilty because I’m reminded of its existence and lack of use. To make myself feel better, after doing the laundry, I throw a bed sheet and a couple of towels over my tread mill and appreciate its other function as a glorified clothes hanger, perhaps in a way similar to how many educators use their Interactive Whiteboard as a glorified projector screen.

My treadmill makes a good accessory in my basement, giving the appearance that I exercise regularly. Maybe that’s why I bought it, for appearances, just like how some schools might invest readily in these technologies to show their commitment to innovation and technology. Buying is only the first step. The next step toward reality is often harder.

It’s OK. We can get better. It’s not too late.

So if your Interactive Whiteboard is like my unused tread mill, let’s take that first step on that path toward redemption.

Regardless of your performance on the Interactive Whiteboard Readiness Assessment, these simple tips can help you begin to appreciate the features of your Interactive Whiteboard. Or maybe having students moving around the classroom isn’t your style.

These three steps, implemented well, can make up for that...

Three Simple Steps to Redemption:

1) Increase your Accessibility! As you teach your lesson and write your valuable notes on the Interactive Whiteboard, use your Interactive Whiteboard’s software to convert your class notes to the Adobe PDF format. Then, you can post your notes online for your students in a file format that works across different devices.

Why would you want to do post your notes online on your teacher webpage or Blackboard site? Imagine how easy it is for your students who are absent to get notes they may have missed. Or, students who have difficulty with note taking or students in special education could also benefit from copies of the notes you write in class. Parents could also learn from your notes to help their child with homework and class projects.

And best of all, next year you will have all your notes in an easily editable format which allows you to quickly refine, improve, and expand how you present content to your students. Many teachers create a base template for all their notes for each period, then edit and publish as needed.

Obviously you can adjust how you make your notes available to your students. Students should still be required to learn how to take notes and stay organized. Having your copy as reference only provides an additional layer of support that you make available as needed.

2) Collaborate! Share your class notes with other teachers in your subject area or department. If all your classnotes were available on a shared network drive in your school, all teachers can benefit from learning from each other’s notes.

Are you mentoring a new teacher who teaches the same subject? Imagine if you are a new teacher and you have access to everyone’s class notes for the entire year. How could this access serve as a foundation to help new teachers with curriculum pacing, differentiation, remediation, or enhancement?

Or, for the special education teachers in content areas, imagine making the files available for them to help with remediation and making modifications. And, as they make their files available to you, imagine how that helps with your differentiation.

Having this level of transparency enables all teachers to share and learn from each other. You start to build a wealth of instructional resources that benefits everyone. Wouldn’t this be terrific for professional learning communities as teachers share how they teach concepts?

3) Reteach, Remediate, and Enrich! Create videos of your instruction of difficult concepts.

Did you know your Interactive Whiteboard software can record videos of you demonstrating a concept? It records exactly what you write on the whiteboard as a video, and if you attach a microphone, you can also record audio. The result is a nice video of you talking and demonstrating a concept.

Imagine the possibilities. Is there is a difficult math concept that you are constantly reteaching your students? Do you get tired of hearing yourself say the same thing over and over? Or, is there an enrichment activity you want to demonstrate?

If your students could watch your videos online in your teacher webpage, then you expand your ability to provide additional help and guidance to students, parents, and other teachers.

And as mentioned earlier, you build on these resources each year, so the initial investment in time and energy increases tremendously each year as it saves time during the following years and allows you to focus on other areas.

These are three small steps towards starting to use that marvelous technology in your classroom. Start using these features of your Interactive Whiteboard today. The technology doesn’t have to stay underutilized.

Let’s start on this road to redemption. Let the unused technology finally get used.

So, install and fire up that Interactive Whiteboard software. Seek the help of the teachers who are proficient with these technologies, or go get the help from your tech specialist.

I’m going to start folding the clothes that I’ve hanged on my tread mill. Then I hope to actually stand on it, turn it on, walk, then run!


The opinions expressed in Leading From the Classroom are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.