Introduction

Hi there, and welcome to our blog experience. This blog focuses on the way Interactive Whiteboards can be utilised by pre-service educators in the subject area of History.

So why did we decide to take this angle for our assignment? As pre-service educators ourselves, we discovered that after a few practicums, our experience and engagement with Interactive Whiteboards was little to none. This alarmed us, as we know we will the part of a generation of teachers who need to be able to successfully engage with and teach ICTs in the classroom; and this includes Interactive Whiteboards.

This experience is interactive; we appreciate and encourage any form of opinion, experience or any ideas that can be put forward. We want to create a community where participants are given the research and resources to learn about and engage with Interactive Whiteboards, but also have the opportunity to make up their own minds about this ICT medium. This is an ‘experience’, not a ‘lecture’.

Your task as the participant: By participating in this online event, we only ask a few things of you. Firstly, to follow each step as it is illustrated to you. Secondly, when prompted, we would appreciate any opinions, experiences or comments on our topics, as well as taking the time to answer the posed questions at the end of each topic. It would be fantastic to have a growing community of ideas coming out of this blog to help demonstrate everyones’ own understanding of Interactive Whiteboards and their use in schools.

By the end of this blog experience: By the end of our blogging experience, we are hoping to provide an experience that leaves the participant feeling as if they are capable and able to undertake and understand what it is like to be a pre-service educator, and to utilise the Interactive Whiteboard systems for the subject of History. By reading and participating in our forums, participants will be given the tools to go fourth into new schools and embed their rich understanding of IWBs and their importance and place in Australian schools.

A little bit about Interactive Whiteboards:

This video is a short tutorial or example of why ‘SMART’ boards, or IWBs are fantastic to use in Primary schools. Please watch by clicking the link below.

The next video is an example of how IWBs are used in the classroom. This is just an example of a lower primary class engaging with the Interactive Whiteboard to learn new letters and sounds. Notice how engaged and fixed the students are on this media and how the teacher uses the IWB to enhance the learning experience. Please watch by clicking on the link below.

If you have any comments on these videos, please feel free to post in our forum. There should be a box below for comments or a link labelled ‘leave a comment’. If not, please move to the left hand side of the screen and click on the next tab labelled “Background Research”. Or, simply scroll down. 🙂 ENJOY!

Haylee, Sarah, Cassie and Alicia.

 

Consider these questions and share your thoughts:

1. How much prior experience have you had with using IWBs in the classroom environment?

2. Have these experiences been positive or negative?

3. What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are in regards to IWBs or the History strand?

 

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15 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. Rosanna says:

    Hi Girls,

    Great blog and useful information! I would have to say from my prior experience, every school I have attended for prac experience had IWBs. However, it did not matter what school it was the teachers were very inexperienced with how to use the them. These teachers told me when they were installed they just got told they had to figure out how to use them in their own time. I was quite shocked that there were no classes available for these teachers for training as it was a big jump into their technology knowledge. I was actually excited to learn how to use these IWBs but I did not have the chance to experience I thought I could have using them as the teachers did not know how to demonstrate their use. I really wanted to learn how to use these boards so I asked one of the teachers at one of the prac experiences if I was able to stay back for an hour or so after school to just have a muck-around with the IWB so I could teach a lesson the following day and have students interact with them. I am glad the teacher allowed me to stay back as I explored and found many wonderful exciting things you can do on this amazing IWBs.

    I believe all schools should have these and all teachers should be trained as they are an excellent teaching resource. Children love the fact that they can use something so big and have fun but learn at the same time.

    Thanks,
    Rosanna

  2. achsict says:

    Hey Rosanna,

    Thankyou for your feedback and for sharing your experiences with us 🙂 I agree with you, teachers definately need to be trained on how to use the advances of technology within the classroom.

    When you got the chance to ‘play around’ with the interactive whiteboard what barriers did you face and how did you overcome these? How was your classroom experience the next day? (positive or negative). Would you say you feel more confident using whiteboards now that you’ve had some experience and what do you think your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to using IWBs (e.g. what programs do you know how to use and how do these benefit student learning).

    Thankyou for your participation,
    Sarah

    • Rosanna says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Your welcome 🙂 It took me some time getting use to using the whiteboard however you need more then an hour to feel completely confident. The IWB is not like using a computer I found it quite hard to write and when I did write I could not make it neat and up to the presentable level for children to read. I did find it frustrating when writing as the IWB is a front-mounted projection screen. This means that your data projector is set up in front of the screen (like an overhead projector) so when I stood in between the projector and the screen, you cast a shadow on the screen while you are trying to write.

      Students however loved the interaction and I liked being able to demonstrate or explain something as the pictures and font size (typed) was clear and bright for the students to read. At the same time students learnt about technology and had open access to educational games on a large scale. I found that the IWB accommodated for all learning styles and is suitable for all ages. Students with special needs can use them as well. Once the program is up and running it is easy to use its just setting everything up and working out the small things that made it hard. I did wish though that I had more time on the IWB prior to using it with the students so I could learn more things.

      For students of the digital age, having an IWB in classrooms also provides continuity. Children feel they need instant answers and
      desire for stimulating, media-rich environments find satisfaction in the large, colorful displays, touch control and sound capabilities that most boards provide. IWB gives those digital learners the immediacy they desire and the ability to find, create, synthesize, share, organise and play with information in new and exciting ways and most importantly learning at the same time. They also benefit student learning as students tend to learn more and comprehend more with hands-on activities. There are programs for IWB where students use their hands to create and make things as well as dragging objects into it’s correct place. Usually the programs are very encouraging and when a student’s answer is correct fireworks, applause or praising is presented. If a student answers incorrectly, positive and encouraging feedback is given for students to try again.

      Here are some programs I found useful for student learning –
      http://www.echalk.co.uk/
      http://www.topmarks.co.uk/interactive.aspx
      http://teacher.scholastic.com/whiteboards/learninggames.htm

      Thanks,
      Rosanna

  3. achsict says:

    You make some very good points Rosanna. We also mentioned in our Pros and Cons page about the neatness of writing
    and casting a shadow across the screen. We also addressed how IWBs accommodate for all learning styles and students with special
    needs. Its great that you also address and see the importance of these.
    Please take a look at the pros and cons page and feel free to contribute any thoughts or ideas.

    Thankyou for contributing some resources that im sure we could all find useful as future educators.

    IWBs can be used in any curriculum area but are more commonly used in Literacy and Maths. With your knowledge of History and experiences with IWB’s how do you think you would cope incorporating this technology into a History lesson? or have you ever used an IWB in a History lesson?

    Sarah

  4. Rosanna says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I did notice that in the pros and cons section 🙂 I would have to say I have not used an IWB in a History Lesson before however I think it would be quite interesting to see what it would be like. It sounds a bit more complex and you would need to know how to use a IWB effectively, but I am usually up for a challenge. Many primary students are not really interested in History so I think using an IWB would liven things up and encourage and motivate students to engage more and learn. Young students need new and exiting things to catch their attention so I strongly believe IWB would be an excellent resource to use in a History lesson.

    Thanks
    Rosanna

    • achsict says:

      Hey Rosanna,

      Thank you so much for your participation within this forum! It’s great that you have some experience with IWBs in the classroom. I agree with Sarah that you make some very interesting points that would be beneficial for us as future educators to take into consideration about IWBs.

      In regards to experiences where IWBs could be used to enhance the History strand, I also have not had any experience with this, however I agree with your opinion that students would be more motivated and excited to participate in lessons where technology such as IWBs are used. I think it’s important for us to realise that IWBs can be incorporated into all the key learning areas (KLA’s), not just for subjects such as maths where I have seen IWBs used the most in. The range of online interactive websites for all KLA’s is fantastic. If you take a look at the resources provided on this website you will see how some of the activities are based purely on History, which I think is great as like you said, it can definitely brighten up the subject and make it more interesting as well as constructivist based.

      It’s great to see you are so open to incorporating IWB use into your teaching and more specifically into the History strand. What do you think about the resources we have shared? Do you think they would be valuable/easy to use?

      Kind regards,
      Cassie

      • Rosanna says:

        Hi Cassie,

        I completely agree with you I think it is very important for ICT to be incorporated in all KLA’s. I have also only experienced IWBs with maths or ICT itself. I have used “TopMarks” before in my teaching experience and now use it all the time. I find it to be an excellent resource and the students absolutely loved using it. I had a look on that website in the History section and noticed some really good useful History activities such as the “Egyptian tomb adventure” for older year levels. Student’s love the fact that they can play a game to increase their knowledge and understanding of the topic being taught. You will be surprised at how much they do learn through online activities.

        In regards to the other resources mentioned on your website I believe are valuable and beneficial for all student learning. They are definitely easy and clear to use.

        Thanks Rosanna

  5. achsict says:

    Hi Rosanna,

    Thanks you participating in our event. I love hearing your point of view in regards to interactive whiteboards. It was lovely to see that your mentor teacher allowed to play around with the technology to allow you to have some experiences in this use of media. I myself have not had much experience with them, as I have only had one professional experience in a school environment. But my mentor teacher used the IWB whenever she could. She also allowed me to use it during any of the lessons she needed help with. The only downside that I found with was that it was hard to use them when you had to stand in front of the projector, therefore I was not able to see what I was doing with them. I also understand that there are a lot of other teachers out there that may not have a clue on how to use them or just scared to use them due to the lack of training available. If teachers had the correct training I am positive that these will be a great asset to any classroom. As there are numerous ways that children can interact with them in order to learn about history, that does not involve them sitting behind a desk and copying down notes and dates that their teacher has written on the whiteboard.

    Kind Regards,
    Alicia

  6. Rosanna says:

    Hi Alicia,

    I had that exact problem when I was writing on the IWB my shadow kept blocking the screen causing me to not be able to see what I was writing haha. I think it is essential that teachers have training as IWB are our next big step in technology in today’s society and it is just going to get more complex and full on. Sooner or later there will be no more hand-writing etc everything will be done through technology. So unfortunately teachers need to get more involved with what we have currently. You see so many young children with iPods and iPads these days, I even see 3-4 year olds using them and you would be surprised at how intelligent children are these days when it comes to technology.

    Thanks,
    Rosanna

    • achsict says:

      Hi Rosanna,

      Yeah I know what you mean. But that may require some teachers to step out of their comfort and use a resource that I may not be able to use. And how do they access to training. Do they have to find their own means of training or will the school be able to assist?

      Kind Regards,
      Alicia

  7. My first Prac with Grade 6, the mentor utilised the IWB every session. I sat in amazement, as I’ve never seen the IWB before, at how engaged the students were and their attention to learning. Second prac with Grade 1 and the IWB was there but not hooked up, so all the sessions were written on the whiteboard, boy did this test my handwriting! My last prac with Grade 5 was fantastic, the mentor did EVERYTHING via the IWB. In saying this though, I still haven’t had a great deal of experience with IWB and would definately love the opportunity to develop my skills further within this field. The last prac I utilised the IWB for a couple of end of task games, but I still ran the majority of my sessions using handouts or writing on the whiteboard, as I certainly didnt feel confident in using the IWB.
    Future educators definately need to be taught and have a good base foundation when using IWB, as technology is moving forward at a fast pace and students today are becoming more ‘digital learners’.

    • achsict says:

      Hi Stacie,

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with IWBs. It’s amazing how one teacher is able to use them to their advantage. I agree that we as future educators need to be taught how to use the IWBs. But I worry that we may not get taught how to use them until we are out there and in our own classes. I know there are a lot of websites to assist with the learning. But what about those who learn by someone sitting down and explaining me what to do in person.

      Kind Regards
      Alicia

  8. achsict says:

    Hello Stacie,

    It’s great to hear about your experiences with IWB’s! I think it’s wonderful that they can be utilised for so many different purposes (even as simple as just writing on it) and in all year levels in classrooms. I also haven’t had many experiences with using the IWB as the basis of my lessons and would also love some further hands on tutorials. I have discovered that the internet is a great place to find tutorials for just about anything, especially on YouTube. Therefore, learning about IWB’s isn’t completely out of the question or too difficult for teachers however, I think the real barrier is finding the time to use the IWB’s in a hands on way, to practice using various resources and tools to add into, and benefit lessons.

    How would you feel as a future educator, (without one on one lessons on how to use IWB’s in person available) having to do the background research yourself and practicing on the IWB when you have free time in the classroom environment? It seems this is the only way that teachers could find out more and become more confident with using them.

    Thank you for your participation! Cassie

  9. Elly Fiedler says:

    Hi All,

    I think I have been quite lucky with my exposure to the IWB’s as the past 3 schools have given me access to this. The first experience I had was in a small school, of 20 students and the IWB was mainly used to show video clips but through research I found games to use throughout my lessons but I did find it interesting that the mentor teacher did not already have a portfolio of games to be used throughout lessons.

    All of my experiences have been positive, although I do get frustrated with technology and did not have a back-up for my lesson when the IWB didn’t connect with my initial plans.

    In my last prac I had the opportunity to sit in on a lesson taught by the ICT Co-ordinator to the teachers in the lower school about the new program they had bought which brought dreaming stories to life on the IWB and where they could then access the activities specifically linked to the book. I felt that it was a very supportive environment and the ICT Co-ordinator was very knowledgeable.

    If teachers are not given the opportunities to develop their learning of IWB’s through Professional Development, do you think that someone should be nominated to learn these things and can in turn support the staff?

    • achsict says:

      Hi Elly,

      Thanks very much for your comments, it’s so lovely to see that you have had positive experiences with ICTs and IWBs in your prac schools. Did you find that the students were much more engaged with the content being taught because of the IWB use?

      In regards to your question, we think that if teachers are not given enough support to develop their own individual learning of IWBs through Professional Development, there absolutely should be someone nominated to support the staff members at all times. Of course this usually falls to the ICT co-ordinator in most schools, however in some schools there isn’t really any one person with that position title; it is more a shared role. It would be great to see co-hort teachers getting together, brainstorming and nominating maybe a new teacher each term or semester to run the ‘ICT/IWB education tutorials’ for the teachers in their year levels; or alternatively across the entire school. I think many pre-service teachers are experiencing such wide ranges and scope of difference in schools between the use of and lack their of ICTs and IWB use in schools, and this is worrying. Do you think this is a Government issue or it comes down to State Governments or even the individual schools themselves?

      Haylee.

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