What the research says?
Interactive whiteboards, also known as smart panels or interactive displays, have become essential fixtures in classrooms worldwide. These front-of-the-class panels take the place of traditional chalkboards and whiteboards, offering teachers and students a higher level of technical innovation and interactivity that help bring the educational experience into the 21st century.
However, research and anecdotal evidence suggest that the majority of teachers are not taking advantage of all the features contained in interactive whiteboards, and instead are simply scratching the surface of what they’re capable of.
One survey conducted in Quebec, Canada, found that only 48% of teachers used their interactive whiteboard always or often, while 20% used it sometimes and 32% used it never or rarely. Those who didn’t use it regularly said the smart panels were too complicated, had technical problems, and demanded too much of their time to learn the features and create lessons. Furthermore, only 4% of teachers said they let their students use the interactive panels often or always, while 73% said they rarely or never allowed students to use them.
While some might deduce from these statistics that interactive whiteboards are indeed inherently difficult to use, the study found that when teachers and students used them regularly and became familiar with their features, they grew to appreciate their many capabilities. The study also suggested that interactive whiteboard training is essential in preparing teachers to embrace this technology and use it to its full potential.
Finding Training on How to Use an Interactive Whiteboard
Ideally, teachers will get trained on how to use an interactive whiteboard even before the smart panel arrives in the classroom. Getting buy-in from teachers and making them feel comfortable with the technology is critical to ensuring the interactive panels are used and embraced by all stakeholders.
The first place to look for training is with the manufacturer of the interactive whiteboard that the school or district has chosen to buy. For example, Promethean, which supplies a significant proportion of the interactive panels being used in classrooms all over the world, offers a wide array of training and support to help educators learn to use the many features of its ActivPanel board. The Learn Promethean website showcases online courses, video tutorials, and informational articles. In-person training courses taught by educational consultants are also available.
When shopping for an interactive whiteboard, it’s important to look at the training and support options that are offered with the panels. If the maker of your interactive whiteboard doesn’t provide ongoing education, professional development, and support, then it’s all the more likely teachers will get discouraged when they don’t fully understand how it operates, what the features are, and what to do if they run into technical difficulties.
Video tutorials, online training courses, and in-person training can also be found from independent providers. A search on YouTube yields many results for both short and long tutorials. And more formal courses can be found through community colleges and business-oriented educators.
Discovering New Features With Interactive Whiteboard Training
Once you get the basics of using an interactive whiteboard or panel, you’ll be ready to explore the many features it has to offer. For example, the Promethean ActivPanel interactive display comes with a wide variety of apps that perform various functions to assist in creating and delivering engaging lessons.
The whiteboard app allows teachers to use the panel like a more traditional interactive whiteboard. The annotate app allows users to mark up whatever is being displayed on the screen with either a pen or highlighter using different colors and widths. The capture app makes it easy to grab a portion of an image, crop it, then manipulate it in various ways. The spinner app is a fun way to randomly select items and gamify lessons and learning. The timer app is perfect for timing quizzes and tests or giving students a limited time to answer a question or complete an activity.
All interactive whiteboards offer unique features that you should explore before settling on one to buy. Once you have your panel, you’ll be able to further your training, familiarize yourself with the many capabilities of your panel, and become proficient with using it. The key is to recognize that using this robust technology is a work in progress. Continued training and professional development will be essential to getting the most out of your purchase.
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