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Teachers have mixed feelings about interactive whiteboards in their classrooms. Many teachers just hate them. But there are many advantages to interactive whiteboards, and there is value in using them in the modern classroom. Like any new technology, there are challenges to adoption and how to overcome them. So once you check out 5 reasons teachers dislike interactive whiteboard, make sure to check out 3 simple ways to integrate the technology into a classroom the right way.
Learn more below about why teachers hate interactive whiteboards – and how to overcome these challenges.
It is hard to miss in recent visits to educational technology trade shows the number of brands offering different interactive whiteboard models, sizes, and functionalities. At first glance, it seems these devices are becoming the gold-standard in educational technology for schools worldwide. With a quick search on YouTube, one finds a plethora of videos comparing different brands, specs, and software packages. With such vast amounts of information on the technological aspect, but nothing on the teacher’s perspective, one wonders, how do teachers feel about digital whiteboards? Are teachers embracing the new addition to their classrooms with open arms, or are digital whiteboards just a showpiece for schools to parade in front of parents and administrators?
Where the Interactive Whiteboard Popularity Came From
The popularization of interactive whiteboards devices is credited to the drop in prices. 10 years ago, a large touch screen cost around $20,000 to $30,000. Today, a 65-inch screen is about $3,000. However, academics still question the utility and practicality of these devices in schools.
ViewSonic has over 30 years of working with teachers to create technologies they want to use. They have shared some of their experiences with us and we have summarized below the 5 major reasons why teachers dislike interactive displays. We have also offered some suggestions on what schools and administrators can do to help with the adaptation of digital whiteboards in the classrooms.
5 major Factors Why Teachers Dislike Interactive Displays
1. Interactive Whiteboards Are Too Complicated to Use During Lessons
We often over-complicate simple things. Teachers usually are just looking to replace their chalkboards or whiteboards. Nowadays in a highly competitive market, companies are rushing out digital displays filled with widgets, software, and utilities. This may seem very nifty at first but bring little value in the teaching environment. Essentially, brands pack these devices with everything and forget to think from the teacher’s perspective. The more software and applications the device comes with, the more complicated they become, and harder they are to learn. In a classroom environment where everything is live and on the spot, there is little room for error during class time. Any delay or interruption in the classroom is detrimental to the quality of learning.
Also, the time needed to learn new programs and software is precious time that the teachers do not have and may require teachers to take personal time off for training. Calling IT for support during lessons destroys the momentum teachers worked so hard to build, thus again diminishing the quality of the learning.
2. Interactive Whiteboards Lack Storage and File Conversion Ability
Unlike drawing on a whiteboard, where no documents are created, interactive whiteboards provide convenience in the ability to save files. Over time certain file types or programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations, or MS Word for document writing, have become the standard in classrooms. This type of democratizing software is not present for digital whiteboards. Every major brand in the sector has its own proprietary file type. The lack of support for multimedia in the supposed standard file type of .iwb falls short as lessons require videos, animation, and graphs. This presents a major issue when schools change provider and all the old file types are no longer compatible with the new hardware. This is especially true with files that have flash dependencies and will no longer be supported. (Learn more about Flash here.)
3. Interactive Whiteboards Are Not Agile Enough to Fit Today’s Teaching Pedagogy
Every interactive whiteboard brand claims to deliver dynamic multi-functional capabilities. However, teachers feel like they are no more than glorified projectors and do not really help enhance the learning experience. An interactive whiteboard’s purpose is to assist the learning process through the usage of multimedia and rich content, the technology is meant to help make the lessons more fun and interactive.
Click here for 6 Ways to Boost Classroom Productivity with Interactive Whiteboards.
Even with the switch to interactive whiteboards, teachers still stand in front of a class and present, the same way one would do in front of a regular chalk/whiteboard. Now, the materials presented are, flashier but this does not really influence how knowledge is exchanged and does little to promote independent discovery and collaborative work. More importantly, because of the lack of agility, a lot of the functions on the interactive whiteboards are never utilized to its’ full potential.
4. Interactive Whiteboards Lack Classroom System Integration Processes
When schools purchase digital whiteboards for the wrong reasons, teachers and students suffer. In some instances, teachers feel the school acquired interactive whiteboards as a public relations tool to promote the school rather than a teaching instrument. The implication from this mindset is that the school fails to see all the non-tangible processes required to make sure the interactive whiteboards are usable and will fulfill the purpose they were meant to. The non-tangible aspect includes network speed, IT support staff, size of classrooms, and how the furniture will be arranged to maximize learning efficiency.
Also, the type of Learning Management Systems and user synchronization need to be implemented across the board to make sure teachers can log in, share files, assign homework. Students and parents need to be able to exchange feedback with teachers on the same platform. Without truly addressing the issue of system integration, the boards are no more than just expensive projectors, or in the worst case, dark glass.
5. Interactive Whiteboards Need Extensive Rollout, Professional Development, and Organizational Adoption
When schools have all the infrastructure set up, and the interactive whiteboards are ready to be adopted by the teacher, quite often teachers still fail to use them efficiently and effectively. This boils down to professional development.
Due to the nature of classrooms, knowing how to use the tools before they are given is of utmost importance for teachers. Teachers usually prepare their lessons beforehand and thus require that when class is in progress, lessons flow smoothly. This is challenging if the teachers are not confident in maneuvering around an interactive whiteboard. Schools often are pressured to roll out the new technology without considering the time and practice teachers need to master these devices.
Getting the EdTech Right the First Time with Interactive Whiteboards
Transforming a classroom from traditional chalkboards and whiteboards require expensive investment from schools, both in time and money. With so much at stake, schools need to plan out the infrastructural aspect of the transformation as well as the training and development for teachers to be successful. More importantly, they need to be able to get early adopters on board and resisters convinced of the value interactive whiteboards can bring into their classrooms. Lastly, the policy and actions a school administrator take to determine how the school will accept and internalize interactive whiteboards.
Keys to Success for Getting Teachers to Adopt Interactive Whiteboards
With any dramatic change in an organization, preparation, communication, and execution are the keys to success in introducing new technology. As an educational solution provider, ViewSonic believes the following 3 factors are the key to integrating interactive whiteboards in classrooms successfully:
The school needs to ask: What is the desired result for the school? And what processes need to be in place to achieve such results? If the goal is for better learning outcomes or higher engagement from students, then the school needs to focus on how to make the teacher’s lesson more engaging, and actively create an environment where teachers have access to all the tools to be successful. This includes ease of saving and sharing materials, the ability to form teams to collaborate, and have a standardized file format for consistency. Infrastructure groundwork needs to be discussed as well. This is where the schools make sure all its IT infrastructure such as cables, Wi-Fi hotspots, and servers are in place before the boards are installed.
Once the plan is in place, the school needs to start a dialogue between teachers, schools, IT, and the hardware/software provider. This is where the goals are clearly communicated, concession formed, and feedback are received. IT needs to have a clear plan on how to support the teachers through the transformation. Most importantly, the brand needs to have direct access to the teachers to understand their needs and how best to achieve their desired outcomes. Through active communication and discussion with the teachers, the school will find the root cause of any resistance to change and thus start the process of finding solutions. The school needs to remember communication is time-consuming and also requires outside trainers to coach teachers on how to use the technology effectively. During training, teachers can get hands-on support and their concerns are validated and addressed.
Once the plan is done, communication is established, the last part is executing the plan. While execution is in progress, communication continues to ensure progress. Hardware and software both need to be configured so teachers can hit the ground running when school starts. Any delay or interruption creates a negative association with the brand and may have serious consequences for teachers to embrace the technology. Extensive training and handholding are necessary to make sure adoption and integration are complete.
The Role Interactive Whiteboard Companies Play
As a major brand in the interactive whiteboard space, ViewSonic has an inherited responsibility to the teachers and students alike. Our systems need to be easily adapted to the teacher’s needs. The learning curve must be minimized to help teachers become proficient.
Developing an efficient communication channel for teachers is also essential to understanding their needs and how we can align with their vision and teaching goals. Only when these steps are accomplished, can we turn that frown upside down.
We invite teachers and school administrators to start a conversation with us to avoid problems with their interactive whiteboards in the future. Together we can go over your needs and come up with a strategy to ensure you have the right education technology for your teachers and students. The benefits of having an interactive whiteboard far out weight the drawbacks we talked about at the beginning of this article. Talk to a ViewSonic Educational Expert today.
This article was contributed by Javier Chen, myViewBoard Growth Lead Manager
myViewBoard Growth Lead Manager
Javier Chen is the Growth Lead for the myViewBoard Ecosystem at ViewSonic. Currently living in Taipei, Taiwan, Javier has expertise in digital customer acquisition. He is fluent in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.