For a small rural district, these units represent a significant monetary commitment, in both initial outlay and maintenance costs. Some of the first Smart Boards were obtained through grant money; the others will probably be funded by the New York State EXCEL aid program.
Are IWBs worth the investment?
A 2007 study from the University of London listed some negatives:
- Sometimes teachers focused more on the new technology than on what pupils should be learning.
- The focus on interactivity as a technical process can lead to some relatively mundane activities being over-valued. Such an emphasis on interactivity was particularly prevalent in classes with lower-ability students.
- In lower-ability groups it could actually slow the pace of whole class learning as individual pupils took turns at the board.
Another study, from the DCSF Primary Schools Whiteboard Expansion project (PSWE), found that "average and high attaining boys and girls who had been taught extensively with the interactive whiteboard" made consistent gains in math, science and English. It was noted, however, that "the more experience the teacher has of using the interactive whiteboard, the greater the likelihood of positive attainment gains for pupils."
Scott Meech asked on Classroom 2.0 "Are "Interactive White Boards" transformative to your teaching and/or classroom? We are looking for feedback on whether they are worth the money. Do you really get your bang for your buck?" The discussion on his blog has been lively and thought-provoking.
I have seen IWBs used successfully in high school math classes. I've also seen them used as screens for movies.
Are IWBs worth their steep price tag, or are they "shiny things" that look impressive but fail to deliver on their promise?