Interactive whiteboards are large white screens that connect to computers and projectors, allowing teachers and students to write or draw on the display. Even though they offer visual learning opportunities and interactive capabilities, these tools have disadvantages. Interactive whiteboards can be difficult to operate for teachers without strong technology skills or whiteboard training, and some classroom conditions make it difficult for students to see and use whiteboards effectively.
Interactive whiteboards help teachers explain concepts in ways that capture students' attention, but the lessons require time to design and prepare. Unlike ready-to-go textbooks, teachers must research, evaluate, interpret, install and maneuver software programs that aid in the use of these whiteboards. Once teachers make an initial time investment in whiteboard lesson plans, they can use them year after year and make simple lesson adjustments along the way; however, some teachers prefer to use standard textbooks, chalkboards and handouts rather than whiteboards, especially when technology isn't their strong suit.
Teachers who don't receive proper training on how to use interactive whiteboards often find them troublesome and complicated. For example, a teacher might have difficulty connecting the computer to the projector or installing software. Technical issues can make it difficult to project words or images on the screen. As a result, teachers get frustrated with whiteboards and never utilize their full potential. Schools might offer training seminars, troubleshooting guides or whiteboard tutorials to help teachers get the most out of whiteboard technology.
Young students and short students often have trouble reaching the top portions of interactive whiteboards. Teachers may find small stepladders or stools helpful, but there's always a risk that students might fall as they're trying to solve math problems or complete whiteboard activities that are out of reach. Educators can lower the projection, but there's less room on the board to complete tasks. Students in the back of the room also might have trouble seeing over the heads of front-row students to view the whiteboard. In addition, whiteboards aren't as long as wall-length chalkboards, so teachers don't have the luxury of leaving homework assignments or weekly tasks on whiteboards long term.
Lighting conditions must be right for teachers and students to use interactive whiteboards. Some students might experience a glare from interior lights or sunlight reflecting on the screen, and it's not always convenient to turn the classroom lights off and on as needed. Other students might have trouble reading fonts, images or diagrams that are smaller than standard blackboard chalk writing. If the power goes out or the computer battery runs low, teachers can temporarily lose their projected content. Damaged whiteboard screens make it difficult to effectively project and read the content, but repairs and replacements are costly.
Remote Access Issues
Some educators encourage classroom discussion and allow for multiple data entries. For example, a teacher might allow students to interact on the whiteboard using their own computers. This can result in mixed signals, an overload of inputs and on-screen nonsense. Teachers also might have problems if students use their remote access to send inappropriate or off-task messages or drawings to the screen.
- ASCD: The Art and Science of Teaching / Teaching With Interactive Whiteboards
- TechLearn: Interactive Whiteboards in Education
- University of Hawaii-Manoa, Tuyet Hayes: Interactive Whiteboards for Teacher Training
- Lakeshore Learning Materials: Lakeshore® Unveils Educational Software for Interactive Whiteboards and Computers
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