Gary Stager on Interactive White Boards

In Wozcast 13, put together back in August, I talked about the Curriculum Corporation Conference and expressed some doubts I had about interactive white boards. South Australian educator Graham Wegner later defended them in a comment saying ‘don’t dismiss the IWB movement yet – at least, not in primary schools where there is a real chance the use of the board for learning could be placed in the students’ hands.’ (Graham Wegner)

l like Wegner’s thinking, and his comment captured my concern: that interactive whiteboards were a return to the teacher centred paradigm of the old classroom and a nice way for schools to say they’re into technology without having to change a thing about the teaching and learning.

So I was interested to see today Gary Stager’s ACEC 2006 paper, Has Educational Computing Jumped the Shark?, which in typical Stager fashion, has some pretty tough things to say about how most schools are working with these technologies and where he says of IWBS:

“Intelligent” white boards may appear as cost-effective strategies for advancing a school’s technological capability, yet these Pre-Gutenberg technologies may ultimately reinforce the worst of existing classroom practices. They reinforce the dominance of the front of the room and omniscience of the teacher. Facilitating increased lecturing and reducing education to notes on a board represents a step backwards. We should question the widespread appeal of these products. The sales success of clever furniture is undeniable, but its actual use is less clear.

Thanks to Bret Moller for his blog, which is where I first saw the Stager comments.

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3 comments

  1. Well I am still finding it hard to get a good answer on all this. How do we make sure that this “smart furniture” is not amplifying old teaching techniques. After hearing Gary and many others speak I am more and more convinced that the interactive whiteboard craze is not really changing teaching and learning in a positive way at all. I think they look good in a classroom and in the case of most private schools they certainly impress an ilinformed parent body who are looking for the right school to send their child to.

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