Interactive whiteboards are here to stay. They first exploded onto the scene back in the 1990s, and since then have become something of a mainstay in classrooms all over the world. It is arguable that they were perhaps seen as a gimmick in those early days, but have since become something much more. Teachers have been enthusiastic about them, which has helped, but research has proven that they are a key factor in overall improvements in attainment. This research, alongside that groundswell from teachers who genuinely believe that interactive whiteboards are the way forward, has paved the way for even more improvements in the technology. In this article we look at some of the key drivers towards mass adoption of interactive whiteboards. Schools would not adopt them if they did mot think they were worthwhile, and the three aspects below are what convinced them.

 

The learner response device

 

These were hand-held devices that the learner used to offer answers to questions the teacher had posed, or software had posed on the screen. They are perhaps not in such regular use in schools now (although the functionality is included in our YIC solution), but back then they were seen as key drivers towards achievement. It was easy to see why. Teachers could throw up questions and assessment on screen and then learners could press buttons on these devices that gave their answers. All answers were then aggregated on screen for everyone to see and learn from, often in the form of a bar chart or graph. In a study by Marzano and Haystead (2009) it was shown that a 26-percentile gain in achievement was made in classrooms that used this technology.

 

The study went on to bring other findings to the fore. If teachers used graphics and other highly visual aids, like images from Google Earth, for example, they would find a high level of improvement in the grades the students were getting. In fact, the study found that these images, if used effectively on screen, would result in an increase of 26 percentile points.

 

The final key aspect of whiteboard use that was shown to make significant gains in achievement was the reinforcer. This is where the teacher would play a video or short graphic on screen that praised the learning of the students or an answer that they gave. This was shown to be the very best driver towards achievement, with a 31 percentile point gain achievement in the surveyed schools.

 

What does all of this mean?

 

Because of the fast pace of technological change, these key aspects outlined above are now normal practice in the classroom. This means that the state of whiteboards today is much more healthy, and a real sign that the truly interactive classroom is definitely here to stay. Digital learning and all the good things associated with it are now at such a healthy position it is hard to imagine a classroom that doesn’t involve a truly interactive experience that is invaluable to both the teacher and the learner.