In this information age, instructional tools which are motivating, interactive and interesting are required to assist students in learning a wide range of subjects. Hands-on, interactive activities are particularly valuable for students who are struggling learners. Furthermore, successful teachers recognize the fact that a variety of 21st century tools should be used to enhance students’ academic performance. One of such instructional tool, the interactive whiteboard, has become an essential part of the educational curriculum globally. These boards promote active student engagement in the learning process and have been described as being one of the most revolutionary and powerful techniques of teaching and learning.
The interactive whiteboard is a touch sensitive board, which is displayed on a wall (looking similar to the old school whiteboards). You connect a computer or laptop to the smart board and whatever is on your computer screen will be projected onto the whiteboard. You can then use it simply as a large display or you can use it interactively. This instructional tool can be connected to speakers and other devices. The interactive whiteboard software offers a range of resources that can be used with the board such as a spinner, interactive dice, a timer, a clock, and hundreds of other resources specific to various curriculum areas.
This 21st century instructional tool has made its’ way into almost every sphere of human endeavor; business, education, entertainment, government etc. Consequently, teachers have identified the significance of this astounding new device and the impact it could have on students. There are numerous ways the interactive whiteboard could be used in a school setting, such as, instructional purposes, student collaboration and professional development. They are used in many schools as replacements for traditional whiteboards or flipcharts.
Interactive whiteboards provide ways to show students any thing which can be presented on a computer’s desktop (educational software, web sites, and others). This device is gaining popularity as a visual presenter and interactive teaching aid for use in science subjects. They are effective tools for transforming learning and teaching in schools. They make it possible for teachers to write notes in digital ink and save work to share later. The interactive quality of the board can lend itself to a degree of student participation not offered by other presentation methods such as the chalkboard or overhead projector and screen.
The interactive whiteboard can be used to involve groups in lessons displayed on the board. Because students actively participate in these lessons, the board can serve as a valuable tool in an interactive learning environment. The board itself is touch-sensitive, so that students can manipulate applications at the board as if it were a giant touch pad. They can also add notes to any display, make annotations, or compose original documents which can be saved, printed and distributed, or sent electronically to recipients in other locations. The user can control any application by touching the board with a finger, and can mark with tools such as a stylus, dry-erase marker, or finger.
This board has the “smart” qualities because it interacts by interface with a computer and in the manner in which it allows interactivity between the computer, the board, and users at both locations. They offer multiple benefits for both teaching and learning. They can be used in so many different ways making it a tool that can easily be integrated into any subject area. This technology addresses all the learning styles applied in classrooms. For example, many students tend to be very visual learners and this board is a perfect match for their learning style. When using the board, students maneuver through exercises using their fingers, not a mouse, which is very developmentally appropriate for primary age students and also appeals to students who are tactile learners.
The visibility of the interactive whiteboard is not only engaging for young learners but it also facilitates whole-group instruction that is more collaborative and active in comparison to traditional whole-group lessons that tend to be more passive and oriented toward direct instruction. This novel board opens up new prospects for presentation, re-presentation and communication. Information can be presented in exciting and engaging ways, creating more motivating outcomes. It provides collective engagement with learning problems at greater depth. They encourage creative and seamless use of materials including: websites, video and audio clips, internet and email exchange, interactive teaching programs, interactive and electronic texts as well as interactive software such as digital flipcharts.
This 21st century instructional tool enables the teacher to promptly change and reconfigure information, providing opportunities to engage with pupils at a higher and/or deeper level. In order to take full advantage of benefits of this technology, the teacher needs to combine knowledge of the subject, an understanding of how students learn a range of teaching strategies, along with adept manipulation of the technology. Pupils are encouraged to deepen their level of enquiry and generate their own questions and hypotheses, which they can then easily test and confirm. Teaching and learning in primary, secondary and tertiary schools can be upgraded through the use of interactive whiteboards.
Effective use of this novel board incorporates a variety of teaching techniques that support a range of preferred learning styles. In addition, interactive whiteboards allow teachers to record their instruction and post the material for review by students at a later time. This can be a very effective instructional strategy for students who benefit from repetition, who need to see the material presented again, for students who are absent from school, for struggling learners, and for review for examinations. They can also support visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. The use of this 21st century instructional tool in educational institutions can undoubtedly enhance learning and teaching opportunities.