Catching up (and some slides)

It’s been a while since I blogged here, basically since I got back from ISTE about 2 months ago.  Not sure why, just been super busy. I’ve got a heap of things happening at work, exciting things that I’ll be writing about here soon, but it’s just been hard finding the time lately to sit and write.  I need to change that. I miss doing it.

I presented the keynote at the IWBNet conference in Sydney this morning, which was fun. The topic I was asked to present on was “Why Interactive Whiteboards”, and a few people asked for a copy of the slides so I’ve included them below.

Gotta fly, I need to be at the airport in an hour or so to catch a plane to Japan where I’m spending the weekend with Kim Cofino running a workshop for EARCOS called The Networked Educator.  I guess I’ll have more to write about that later!

IWBs are no Silver Bullet

I’ve just been watching a video online of someone doing an IWB demonstration at the recent ISTE event in Denver, and I have to say, I’m a little speechless.

IWBs are certainly a controversial technology and cop a lot of flak for being a waste of money in classrooms, and although I hate to sound like an apologist, I too often find myself defending them.  I defend them because I believe that in the hands of a good teacher they can be valuable tools, and I get a bit tired of hearing the technology being attacked when it seems to me that all technologies are fairly inert until someone actually does something useful (or not) with them.  As a concept, IWBs sound like a good idea to me… here’s a tool that can support all manner of digital resources and is connected to the wider world via the web, but still has that human element that brings the class members together to discuss ideas around a  shared, large-screen environment, sharing talking, making eye contact.  That all seems like an attractive idea to me.  Of course, in practice, none of that potential is realised without direction from a wise teacher who knows how and when to leverage the tool in some pedagogically sound way.

I’d heard that IWBs were a bit of a circus at ISTE 2010, and that, as usual, IWBs were being hawked by vendors as the silver bullet for making your classroom a better place. (By the way, have you noticed that the demonstrations of IWBs by vendors at trade shows usually consist of showing Youtube clips or playing tictactoe on the board?) However, I assumed that in the non-vendor sessions – sessions that were run by practicing educators who should know better – the importance of sound educational pedagogy would be emphasized over the fancy bells and whistles.  So, I was a bit shocked as I watched this video of a teacher demonstrating how to get the most out of an IWB, as the demo was nothing more than a collection of “interactive” websites that were found online.  In this demo, the teacher showed site after site after site of cutesy examples filled with cliched animations and canned audio that did very little other than provide yet another way for kids to consume some pre-made Flash-game rubbish on the way to rote memorising a bunch of facts.  To make it worse, the entire demo was done from the computer, not the board, so there was absolutely no benefit in the IWB apart from being an expensive projection screen. The whole demo was a collection of everything I think an IWB should NOT be used for, and I think was a perfect example of why there is so much hostility from some people towards IWB technology.

Look, there may be a time and a place for the occasional naff Flash game.  There probably are some useful websites that can be used to help a teacher unpack a tricky concept in a more visual way.  I’m sure that having a bit of colour and movement to help engage students attention is a good idea.  And having access to an onscreen simulation can be a useful tool when doing the real thing is too difficult, expensive or dangerous.

But come on! Teaching effectively with the assistance of an IWB should, hopefully, mean doing a whole lot more than just having a collection of garish websites and predictable, premade content up your sleeve!  Surely we can do much better than this! I don’t want my classroom to have an IWB if its sole use is to allow my students to consume shallow, crappy, poorly designed web content made by other people. What made watching this video worse was watching the backchannel conversation, seeing the participants lapping this up and asking for the URLs for all these sites!

There are some great sites out there on the web, and there’s no denying that many of them work stunningly well on an IWB. But teaching is not (in my opinion anyway) a set-and-forget activity where finding a cool website that the kids think is “engaging” and then simply using it on an IWB somehow qualifies as “good teaching”.  It doesn’t.  I was truly stunned to see a bunch of poorly designed websites being projected on an IWB being held up as an example of worthwhile IWB use!  I would be less surprised to see the vendors doing this, but not a practicing teacher! Maybe the critics are right.

And yet, in the hands of a good teacher, when the IWB is seen as having a supporting role in the classroom, rather than being the star attraction, they can be a truly amazing technology.  Their ability to allow a good teacher to explore concepts visually, stimulate classroom discussion with rich digital media, follow interesting ideas that arise in the course of the lesson, and so on, is undeniably powerful. When used well, I’ve no doubt that IWBs can be revolutionary tools.

One of my mantras about IWBs is that it’s not about what happens on the boardIt’s about what happens because of what happens on the board.  Good teaching and learning is not about some stupid Flash game, it’s about the discussion and conversation and the ability to stimulate deeper understanding about an idea because of the stupid Flash game!  The minute that the content on the board becomes the focus of learning, I think we’re in very shaky territory.  As IWB-using educators, we need to always be thinking about how to leverage that onscreen content to challenge, support and extend the thinking of our students, and not simply to “edutain” them.

In their defense, I think IWBs can be used to provide an amazing “window to the world” in our classrooms.  I think they can provide easy access to an incredible array of rich digital assets that can be used to engage, inform and stimulate learning.  I think that their use can become embedded into our teaching and learning environments in ways that become seamless, where the technology disappears but the benefits are tangible. With a little thought, there are lots of great ways that interactive technologies can be built into the daily DNA of teaching and learning.

But to get there I think we need to let go of the idea that finding some “cool website” where a daggy animated character says “well done!” for adding 2 number together is something to get excited about.  We need to realise that using some rudimentary drag-and-drop activity that reinforces the notion of learning as “who can remember stuff the best” is not the high-water-mark of teaching with interactive technology.  We need to stop being dazzled by pointless animations, shallow activities, rote-learning dressed up as a game, and so on.  We need to slap ourselves upside the head when we catch ourselves treating the board as nothing more than a screen.  As intelligent educators, we need to be critical of the role that an IWB plays in our classrooms, yet we also need to be creative about looking for ways to leverage the power of this tool. We need to be smart enough to know when an IWB is the right tool, and when it isn’t. And we need to realise that the IWB is neither the sole domain of the teacher, nor just the plaything of the students, but rather a place to host a shared meeting of the minds where important ideas can be explored together as partners in learning.

Image: ‘bullet
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7729940@N06/3341338252

That book…

Here’s a little piece of news about the book that I wrote with Mal Lee last year, The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution: teaching with IWBs.  We’ve just been informed by the publishers, ACER Press, that the original print run is now completely sold out and they are going into a second print run. Apparently there are even back orders, and the book has been one of the best selling books in their catalog this year. Who’da thunk it?

It’s true that Interactive Whiteboards can be a controversial topic. There are plenty of people who see them as a useful technology for teaching and learning, but there are also plenty of others that don’t (and are quite vocal about it!)

One of the things I think we tried really hard to do in the book was to consider this controversy and take a sensible and level-headed approach to what IWBs do and don’t do well.  I certainly don’t think I wrote it as an IWB fan-boy and I hope we managed to present a reasoned, common-sense, brand-agnostic argument for how IWB technology can succeed in making the teaching and learning process a little better, while continually reinforcing our belief that no teaching technology can make much of a difference unless it being used in ways that are based on sound, effective pedagogy.  IWBs on their own will not help your students learn – a truth that you would think seems so obvious –  but you only have to look at the advertising from most IWB makers to realise that this idea of it being a silver bullet is still being pushed quite heavily.

There’s no denying that there is still a lot of silly hype about IWBs, and I’ve seen plenty of cringeworthy examples of ways to use them. There have been moments where I’ve almost felt a little embarrassed that, of all the edtech topics I could have chosen to write a book about, it had to be about interactive whiteboards. The last thing I want is be thought of as “the IWB guy”.  In fact, I’ve been asked to give the keynote address at this years Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference, and I’ve called my presentation “Are IWBs carrying our classrooms into the 21st Century, or chaining us to the past?”  I believe we will only use IWBs well if we take a critical approach to their use and continue to ask ourselves the hard questions about how they fit into our teaching practice.  If we don’t do this, they can all too easily become gimmicky and pointless.

Having said all that, I’m pleased to say that the book has been getting some excellent reviews from people who see it as providing reasoned, sensible advice about a topic that is frequently hyped beyond reason and sense.  That’s been really quite affirming.  It’s also been affirming to get emails and twitter message from many of the people who’ve read it saying they found it useful and helpful.  My sincere appreciation for that!

Perhaps the best thing to come from the book has been the ongoing discussion about IWB technology that is happening over at www.iwbrevolution.com.  We originally set that site up as a way of providing a place for community to develop for people who read the book, who perhaps wanted to continue the conversation, ask questions, clarify things, or just generally tell us we were idiots and had it all wrong.  It’s actually grown FAR beyond our original expectations, and there are now over 1400 members from all over the world sharing ideas over there.  I’m actually far more proud of the ongoing intelligent discussion we’ve created there than the book itself.

If you have been one of those people who has read it, thank you!   And if you haven’t but would like to, you can get it here.

The Value of Thinking Out Loud

At the recent ULearn Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, I was asked (along with many other educators, I hasten to add!) to be part of the EdTalks series. Naturally, I was thrilled to have been asked and readily agreed, although I must admit that in the flurry of preparation for ULearn I really didn’t think about it very much until I got to Christchurch.  Sitting in the foyer of the Chistchurch Conference Centre, quite by accident, I bumped into Matt Tippen, one of the brains behind EdTalks, who said “Oh, so you’re Chris Betcher. Are you ready to record your talk?” I wasn’t, but I did it anyway, and essentially just made it up as I went along.

EdTalks is a project of CORE Education, a leading New Zealand educational consulting and training organisation, and is described on their website as “a growing collection of videos featuring New Zealand and International educators talking about learning. EDtalks is CORE’s contribution to your professional learning; a free database of short video interviews with leading educators and thinkers.”  It’s one of those wonderfully simple ideas – use video to capture teachers talking about what they do, then sharing that with other educators on a completely open, accessable website.

Anyway, as I said, I wasn’t actually prepared for it, and really hadn’t given much thought to what I might talk about.  The topic of interactive whiteboards came up, and next thing you know I was recording a piece about them (Curse that book! I’m getting typecast!)  While I do think that IWBs have a worthwhile role to play, and I think I’ve given a fair amount of thought to how teachers might use them sensibly and effectively, I don’t know that I really want to become known as “the IWB guy”.  Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the EdTalk I recorded.

The more I think through the arguments for and against IWB technology, the clearer I think I become about it in my own head. It took me a while to get to this point, but I do believe that IWBs are a worthwhile addition to a classroom.  I also don’t think that my opinion is simply based on having drunk the Kool-Aid of the whiteboard vendors, who too often promote the technology as an instant panacea.  It’s not.  I think it’s taken me a long time to get it clear in my own head just where the value proposition lies for IWBs, and where their true strengths are.

Of course, it’s not just IWBs.  The same process has applied to so many other area that I’ve developed a considered opinion about.  It’s really only been this process of “thinking out loud” in public spaces like my blog, my podcast,  or in various other online forums like mailing lists and Nings, that I have managed to hold some of these debates in my own head and come to conclusions that actually make sense to me.  There is enormous value in being challenged by others who hold contrary views and who will debate and raise the level of critical thinking so that the end result, at least in my own head, is something that I can feel happy with.   You know what they say… if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

It makes me wonder… I know many people who don’t/won’t take their thinking into a public space and expose it to the scrutiny of others. How do those people decide where they stand on controversial issues if they don’t blog or write about or somehow share their thinking with the wider audience?

Finding New Things to do with an IWB

The following post was originally written as a reponse to a thread about interactive whiteboards on the www.iwbrevolution.com Ning.  One of the thread participants there made a statement about needing to see IWBs used in new ways.

I’m interested (read desperate) to see the revolutionary value adding aspects. I have an IWB, I love using my IWB, but I need to grasp the ideas and strategies that move people to describe it as a ‘revolution’ in learning. Show me an idea that is actually new!!!

While I appreciate where he’s coming from, I think the question is somewhat flawed. In responded to the post, I found myself “thinking out loud” about the value propsition of interactive whiteboards.  For what it may be worth, here’s the post. As always, your thoughts and feedback are welcome in the comments…

I used to own a mobile phone, an iPod, a digital camera, a video camera, a GPS, and a voicerecorder, and I often carried many of them with me at any given moment. I also used to carry photos of my kids in my wallet. Gradually each of these devices has become subsumed into devices that could combine many of these functions – at first, my mobile phone gained a camera, and then my next phone had a camera, and a voice recorder. I still needed an iPod if I wanted to have my music with me, and I still needed a GPS if I wanted to know where I was going. I could maybe carry 3 or 4 photos of my kids at most.

My latest device is an iPhone, and it has finally merged all of these tools into a single pocketsized device. I now no longer carry all these things around with as individual tools, but I still have all these tools in my pocket. They are now just one device. The phone, the cameras, the voicerecorder, the GPS, the iPod with all my videos, music and photos accessable whereever I go, combined with mobile internet access and the dozens of amazing apps I have installed for doing just about anything you can think of, has fundamentally changed the experience of interacting with these devices individually.

I find my iPhone to be “revolutionary”, not because it allows me to do anything I could not do previously with all these individual devices, but rather because of the way it has combined all these tools into a single device. The revolution has been in the convergence, not in each the specific tools. I could do all this stuff before – I just had to carry a bag full of devices to do it! It’s also evident in the way these tools interact with each other… the maps can talk to the GPS, which in turn can access the web to look up an address, which in turn can let me make a phone call to that address. There’s nothing terribly “new” about the map, the GPS or the phone. Individually, these are all old, existing tools, but combine them together and they produce an overall experience that is new, different, and dare I say it, revolutionary.

The argument I hear that “an IWB does not let me do anything I couldn’t do with xxxx” – pieces of cardboard with words on them, sheets of butchers paper and blu-tack, an overhead projector, a pair of real dice, a big wooden protractor… you name it… is a complete piece of misdirection about the real value that an IWB can bring to a classroom. It is NOT about whether an IWB can “only” be used to do something that was already possible using a different technology. The real point is that the IWB, by converging so many classroom tools into a single, digital, point of contact on a large shared screen that every participant of the classroom can see, hear and engage with, fundamentally changes a whole lot of things.

There ARE great examples of how IWBs can reinvent what happens in classrooms, but if the onlookers want to constantly dismiss them because they might be able to be done in other ways with other tools, then they will never see the value that convergence brings to these tools.

You say you are desperate to see something “new”, but what do you need to see before you class it as “new”? There are very few new ideas under the sun… if people are waiting for that magical moment where they see an IWB being used to do something that is so unique and special it has never been done ever before by anyone in teaching history, they might be waiting a while. Few examples exist.

However, many examples exist of IWBs enabling teachers to bring digital media, online video, rich learning objects and realtime data into lessons. There are lots of examples of IWBs being used to bring disparate resources together in ways that were cumbersome and awkward using disparate technologies. If you’ve ever tried to show students specific scenes from a DVD – or heaven forbid, several DVDs – in a class, you will know that juggling disks in and out of the DVD player and trying to find specific places in the movie can take up most of the classtime. The same lesson, where the relevant video clips have been pre-prepared and embedded into a flipchart is a totally different experience.

Likewise, the ability to have an IWB as a “window to the world” where not only is the answer to so many random questions just a Google search away, the important thing is that it is only a Google search away in a shared, publicly viewable, social space of a classroom. I would argue that classroom participants using the shared digital space of a large screen connected to the internet and able to divert a lesson into unexpected directions at a moments notice is fundamentally different to traditional classrooms. The ability to do this is, in effect, new.

Perhaps we should stop looking for these profound, earth shattering instances of how an IWB can be “revolutionary”, and instead see the whole picture. The convergence of tools into a shared space that can be instantly adapted into whatever digital tool that might be appropriate is a an incredibly fundamental difference. A large screen tool shared by the whole class that is a place to write, a spreadsheet, a video player, a photo album, a maths lab, a world map, a link to world libraries, an encyclopedia, a highlighter pen, a post-it note, a place to brainstorm, and so on and so on, is an incredibly valuable tool. The fact that these individual parts can be dynamic, realtime and interactive makes it even moreso.

Whenever I hear people saying that an IWB can’t add anything to a classroom, I ponder how they are using it. Are they using a narrow set of IWB tools or do they use it in a myriad of connected ways that build on each other to create a dynamic ecosystem of tools. Do they treat their IWB like a hammer or a Swiss Army Knife? Is it just an expensive highlighter pen, or is it an amazing pandora’s box of digital tools waiting to be combined in interesting ways by creative teachers and students?

That’s where you’ll find your new stuff.

The REAL trick to all this is to ensure that this potential is being realised by teachers who understand the world of possibilities their IWB offers. If a teacher cannot see the potential, then of course we will struggle to see genuine “newness” in the way the IWBs are being used. As always, it is the creativity and insight of a talented teacher that brings this potential to the surface. Let’s stop being so hung up about whether IWBs can add value to a classroom. They can. The real question is whether the teachers who work with them can make the most of that potential and use them to bring that “revolution” into their classrooms.

Tossing the Chalk

Maurice Cummins, IWB GuruYou may have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog lately.  I’ve not been writing here as much as usual and I’ve really missed it!

There have been a couple of reasons for this little sabbatical, but the most significant one was the book project I’ve been working on with Mal Lee.  For almost a year now (OMG, has it really been that long?!) Mal and I have been writing a book together about the use of interactive whiteboards for education.  It’s been a huge project, partly because it’s been a lot to write – nearly 60,000 words – but mostly because it’s been an absolute journey of learning for me as we’ve written it.  I’m pleased to say that the finished manuscript finally went to the publishers this week!

In case you’re interested, here’s a little bit of background into the book…

Mal Lee is an ex school principal and he provided a lot of the insights around the management, funding and leadership aspects of implementing IWBs effectively in schools.  He’s also been behind numerous IWB research projects into IWB implementations over the last few years and has brought many of those research findings to the project.  The book was originally Mal’s idea, he cut the deal with the publishers and he sketched out the original contents and plan for the book.

I, on the other hand, have done a lot of the actual writing work, reworking a lot of the original stuff that Mal wrote as well as contributing significant new chunks of it myself.  Most of my content was based on personal experience from three schools that went through IWB implementations, talking to lots of people who teach with IWBs regularly and also from generating quite a few conversations with my PLN.  I used Twitter, Skype and other online communities to gather opinions and ideas, as well as talking to some very leading teachers who work with IWBs.

The end result is something I’m actually pretty proud of.  It wasn’t always, and there were plenty of times over the past year when I’ve really questioned the whole book project; from whether IWBs really are worth all the hype about them, to whether we were actually saying anything worth reading about.  There were a couple of occasions when I rang Mal ready to quit the whole thing, not because the task of writing was too much, but because I felt like I was completely unqualified to say anything remotely intelligent about the topic.

It’s kind of weird that I should feel that way, because the school I taught at in Canada implemented SmartBoards while I was there and I got to learn from some of their best trainers who flew out from Calgary to train us.  I also did extensive IWB evaluations between different brands and types at another school I taught at, and my current school has about 60 ActivBoards throughout the school and part of my job is to teach teachers how to use them well.  I’ve presented lots of sessions at the last two Australian IWB conferences, as well as run workshops for schools about how to use them effectively.  And yet, when the time came to actually write stuff down that other people might actually take notice of, it really felt very daunting.

As I wrote each chapter, I posted many of them up on Google Docs and asked for feedback from selected people. Some of them really pushed my thinking about IWBs. It was good that people were willing to question some of what we were trying to say, and I think it really helped to give a much greater sense of reality to the whole thing. Writing an extended piece like a book really forces you to think about what you are trying to say, and I hope that we’ve been able to synthesise all the research, advice and practical experience about using IWBs and that the overall message comes through clearly.  The book went over deadline by about 8 months, but I think it would be fair to say that the book we could have written by meeting the deadline would have been very much less useful than what we ended up with by taking the time to bring such a divesity of opinions and ideas together.

As I look through the 56,284 words in the finished manuscript, I think we did a pretty good job of it.  I feel like it’s balanced and informative with some great information contained within it.  More importantly, I feel like I can confidently say that, yes, used properly, IWBs can be great classroom tools. I was such a skeptic when I first saw IWBs about 6 years ago.  I couldn’t see how they were adding anything to the teaching/learning process, at least anything that would justify the cost and complications of using them.  I can remember having arguments with people about them, saying they were a waste of time, and were taking us back to the idea of a teacher-centric classroom.

I was keen to name the book Toss the Chalk: A guide to teaching in an interactive classroom, but the publishers thought the word “toss” might offend any potential UK readers… apparently “toss” means something quite different in the UK!  It looks like it will be published under the somewhat boring (but I suppose relatively descriptive) title, Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards.  Ho hum.

One of the highlights of the book, for me, was asking other teachers to contribute to it.  I put messages out on Twitter asking for thoughts and opinions to various questions I had, and some of the insights that came back were just brilliant.  It led to the inclusion of a whole chapter called Come Into My Classroom, where I asked eight different teachers to write me a snaphot of how they might use their IWB on a typical day.   It was insightful to hear the stories of how each teacher used the technology, in fact, as I wrote in the book…

In compiling these snapshots, a few things come through loud and clear…
There is no one “right” way to use IWB technology.  In these examples, the diversity of methods that each teacher uses to gets value out of their board stands out strongly.

Second, in all these examples it becomes quite obvious that the IWB is simply being used as an enabler for richer, deeper learning to take place.  It comes through very clearly that this is not about the technology per se, and that good teaching is always at the heart of what is taking place in these classrooms.  Student engagement, richness of understanding, creativity, teamwork and learning… these qualities are patently evident in these examples. In every case the IWB is acting simply as one of the enabling tools used to support the good teaching that takes place in the classroom.

My deepest thanks go out to the teachers who contributed to this section – Jess McCulloch, Lesleigh Altmann, Louise Goold, Tobias Cooper, Katie Morrow, Tom Barrett, Kyle Stevens and Paula White. Each of you added a unique and powerful perspective into the value of an IWB in your classrooms. Other briefer contributions were made in a different chapter by Simon Evans, Cathy Nelson, Amanda Signal and Brette Lockyer.

The other part of the book I was particularly pleased with was a section called Grassroots Professional Development which looked at how teachers are using the read/write web to create their own learning communities. Examples like Tom Barett’s 37 Interesting Ways To Use An Interactive Whiteboard, Jess McCulloch’s Interactive Whiteboard Challenge, Sue Tapp’s OZ/NZ Educators group, Ben Hazzard and Joan Badgers SmartBoard Lessons Podcast and of course, the amazing K12 Online Conference… these are some incredibly powerful examples of how ordinary teachers are redefining what it means to be a learner in the 21st century and how professional development has changed thanks to the networks of people we surround ourselves with.

Right now, the text is with the publisher and is about to go through the editing process.  I suppose I will have a bit of chasing around to do, getting clearances from the contributors, clearing copyright on images used, reading proofed chapters and so on, so it’s not over yet.  With a bit of luck, I’m hoping it will be be printed and available by next March… not quite the instant publishing I’m used to in the blogosphere!  However, for the most part it’s done and I hope to get back to my blog where I truly do enjoy writing just for the sake of writing.

To finish off, here is a short excerpt from the final chapter which I hope might give you a bit of a snapshot into the general message of the whole book…

The international research about IWBs consistently reiterates that the most important variable in improving student learning is the quality of the teaching that takes place within the school.  Although this book has tried to focus on some of the technical, pedagogical and logistical issues of implementing IWBs successfully, the point remains that none of this matters if it these are not being applied on top of quality teaching practice. It bears saying once more that an excellent teacher with limited resources will nearly always be able to provide a better learning experience than a lousy teacher who has all the latest technology.  Technology, in and of itself, is not the answer to more effective learning.  Good quality teaching by passionate, committed educators is the answer to more effective learning.  Always has been, always will be.

An IWB is nothing but a tool to assist great teachers do what they do best.  All the high praise or damning criticism you might hear about IWB technology is largely irrelevant without an insight into how a teacher is using it.  An IWB can be used as a regular dry-erase whiteboard, a basic electronic whiteboard or a dynamic digital convergence facility that sits at the centre of a media-rich digital teaching hub.  It is the teacher, not the technology, that decides how effectively an IWB will be used in their classroom.

Photo: Maurice Cummins, IWB Guru
http://flickr.com/photos/betchaboy/1435347533/

Calling all IWB users

I don’t normally make requests like this but if you are reading this and you teach using any sort of Interactive Whiteboard, I have a small favour to ask…

I am currently in the middle of writing a book about the use of IWBs in schools. I’m actually co-authoring it with Mal Lee, an ex-principal and one of the most knowledgeable guys around when it comes to interactive whiteboard research. Mal and I are trying to finish the book over the next few weeks (we have an actual book contract with the Australian Council for Educational Research… with a real deadline and everything!) It aims to be an overview guide looking at the appropriate pedagogy and logistical considerations to think about when you become an IWB user. We are trying to keep the book as brand-agnostic as possible, even though we are aware that the majority of readers will be on either a SmartBoard or an Activboard. The real focus is on pedagogy, logistics and other practical classroom considerations.

Here’s where you come in…

I would really love to include some highlights in the book with short examples from teachers all over the world about how they work with their IWBs. Mini case studies if you will. They don’t have to be long and involved, but if you teach regularly with an IWB I would love to hear from you with respect to the following questions. Don’t feel you have to answer all of them… in fact they are really just prompters to get you thinking. I’d be happy for you to write about any aspect of teaching with an IWB that you feel is relevant or important to you.

  • In what ways has an IWB affected your classroom and how you teach?
  • What do you see as the three biggest advantages of teaching with an IWB?
  • What advice would you offer to teachers just starting out with an IWB?
  • Describe the process you use when you develop teaching resources for your IWB.
  • How do your students respond to the IWB?
  • What is the most innovative thing you’ve ever seen done on an IWB?

Remember these are just starting points. Anything you want to write is fine. No more than 500 words please.

Since you know I’m planning to include these in the book, I will assume that if you write something then you give me permission to include your response in the book. If there are any special conditions you’d like to ask for, please let me know. I’m not in a position to pay you anything, but naturally I will give you full credit for your contribution. If you do want to write something, I’d need it within the next week.

If you’d like to help out, please send me your contributions to chris@betcher.org, or just add it as a comment at the end of this post if you’d prefer.

Many thanks.