School & District Management

The Great Whiteboards Debate Rages On

By Anthony Rebora — June 17, 2010 1 min read
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Following up on a big Washington Post story on interactive whiteboards, Bill Ferriter—noted IWB scourge—amplifies the case that, for all their 21st-century allure, the digital displays essentially preserve an outmoded form of instruction:

Our schools have always been defined by a culture of presentation: I'll stand in front of you and give you the information that you need to learn. You sit in front of me and absorb it. While IWBs might make the presentation a bit more flashy, it still doesn't change the fact that we're presenting and our kids are absorbing. ... When you drop kids who are driven by participation into classrooms that are defined by presentations, "engagement" is unlikely at best.

A Post letter-writer, on the other hand, argues that whiteboards don’t have to be used in a static, 19th lecture-style manner:

At Timberlane Elementary School in Falls Church, where I am a technology specialist, many teachers use a whiteboard as one of several stations that students rotate through, providing each student with hands-on activities, engaging visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. At other times, the board is moved to the front of the room, and students take turns solving math problems, sorting items into groups and matching words with their meanings. ... Interactive whiteboards are not a cure-all, but in a skilled teacher's classroom, they can be an effective tool for engaging students, keeping them involved and most important—helping them learn.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.