Essentials: Interactive Whiteboards In The Classroom - Friend Or Foe?

Essentials: Interactive Whiteboards In The Classroom - Friend Or Foe?

Listen now:


Have you ever considered the impact of the regular use of interactive whiteboards on your students' learning? Does it actually enhance pupil engagement or is it really turning them off?

In this episode of School Behaviour Secrets, we explore the impact of technological advances on classroom dynamics, and gain insights into what we can do to maintain a healthy balance to keep students actively engaged in the digital age.

Important links:

Click here to hear all of episode 41.

Get our FREE SEND Behaviour Handbook:

Download other FREE behaviour resources for use in school:

Share this podcast with your friends:

Show notes / transcription

Simon Currigan  0:00  

Technological advances in the classroom have accelerated in the past 20 years. And we now see devices such as interactive whiteboards being used widely in classrooms on a very regular basis. But does this technology actually enhance student learning? Or is it actually turning pupils and staff of their learning? Join us today for a digital debug of what might actually be happening in your classroom when you turn your technology on. 

Welcome to the school behaviour secrets podcast. I'm your host, Simon Currigan. My co host is Emma Shackleton. And we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and of course, students. When classroom behaviour gets in the way of success. We're going to share the tried and tested secrets to classroom management, behavioural Special Needs whole school strategy and more all with the aim of helping your students reach their true potential. Plus, we'll be letting you eavesdrop on our conversations with thought leaders from around the world. So you'll get to hear their latest evidence based strategies before anyone else. This is the School Behaviour Secrets podcast.

 Hi there, Simon Currigan here and welcome to the first essentials episode of School Behaviour Secrets in 2024. I hope you had a good Christmas and a good new year. As usual, we're going to share with you some key strategies from an earlier episode that you can use to shape your practice to have an immediate impact on the students that you work with just a before we click enter and begin I'd like to remind you that if you enjoy listening today, please remember to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss another thing. In today's podcast, my co host Emma Shackleton and I consider whether interactive whiteboards are a positive force for classroom behaviour, or whether they are quietly undermining the teacher's ability to run the class. This one could be controversial. 

But videos are passive. When we have passive learning activities. We know that that leads to off task behaviour from the kids, the kids are zoning out the night engaging actively with a topic when you put a video on an interactive whiteboard right for the kids is different to listening to someone who's engaging who's interested in their topic, because that interest and enthusiasm really pulls you into the lesson. We've talked already in previous episodes about how someone with great presentation skills eliminates behaviour issues because the kids are eating off their every word. And you just don't get that with a video. And in fact, I would make an argument that the overuse of videos is actually undermining the development of presentation skills in a whole generation of teachers. Because in the past, we had to learn to have those skills to hold the classroom. And now, we just bang on a video.

Emma Shackleton  2:50  

I think you've got to get the balance here. Though used in the right way. videos don't have to be passive. If the children are actively searching for information if they're note taking, if the teacher is pausing the video to ask questions, what they're doing is adding to their toolkit, they're using their presence, and they're using a video to enhance that presence. Children's switch off from teacher voice children are used to multiple sources have input, they play video games, they play music at the same time, and they have their phone in their hand at the same time. Sometimes just listening to the class teacher talking is boring. Using videos adds another dimension, as long as the teacher is encouraging the pupils engagement and giving opportunities for them to be actively involved. I think it really does make the children think about what they're watching and learning. 

Simon Currigan  3:45  

But it's never going to be as fluid as a fast moving dialogue between the teacher and the kids. And another thing I see more and more often nowadays, is videos are used to fill time, which in the past would have been spent in relationship building. There might be five minutes at the end of a lesson when our lessons run short. In the past, we would have read a book or played a game got to know the students more and more nowadays, you just see someone putting on a YouTube video and standing at the side of the room wasting that opportunity, losing that chance to really connect with the kids in a way that's going to support the development of that classroom management in the long term.

Emma Shackleton  4:22  

I do agree there it is about finding the right video at the right time. So it's about teachers using professional judgment to make sure that the video is whole heartedly relevant and these adding something extra to the lesson. The best teachers that I've seen using videos are still doing those relationship building activities as well. They're still reading to the class. They're still having a quick game. They're still doing team building activities with their pupils. They're not just putting videos on day in day out so it is about right video right time.

Simon Currigan  4:57  

Okay, so move on from videos let's talk about PowerPoint and specifically death by PowerPoint. No adult should have to endure hour upon hour of PowerPoint, let alone children. You know, this should be against the Geneva Convention. PowerPoints are dry. PowerPoints are boring. When was the last time you heard the word inspiring a PowerPoint put together, but because it's easier to use PowerPoints on an interactive whiteboard, that's what we automatically do. interactive whiteboards are kind of clunky to write until we bang up a PowerPoint, and we talk through the slides. But are they really inspiring? Are they really going to have the children on the edge of their seats in the same way as an engaging conversation? Well, no one should have to endure hour upon hour of PowerPoint, let alone kids.

Emma Shackleton  5:44  

But PowerPoints can be brilliant, and they can be really effective. We all know that just reading out the slides is bad practice. Remember the rule dumb slides, clever presenter, what we need is a little bit of information on the slide that gives a prompt to the teacher about the conversation that they would naturally have around the topic. I totally agree reading off text from the slide is super boring. But when the slides are there with a prompt that reminds the adult what to say next, and gives them a structure for the teacher to talk around making sure that they adapt what they're saying to the needs of their audience, I think that works really well. It's again about that relationship building. And it's about the presenter altering the technology to fit their needs, rather than just going with a stock or standard PowerPoint and not adapting it to their own class.

Simon Currigan  6:40  

But those PowerPoints, they lack again, that fluidity, they're too structured. They discourage the teacher from going off at tangents and following up the children's questions. If you think about using a traditional whiteboard or a traditional chalkboard, if a child asks a question, you've got the opportunity to go off at that tangent and explore it and write different things on the board with a PowerPoint. It's almost like railway, the lesson chugs along following the line of tracks where it was predetermined, the lesson would go following the slides robotically, because it is just really hard to adapt a PowerPoint in real time to kids questions and ideas in the way that you could have done very easily 20 years ago, using an old fashioned whiteboard, old fashioned chalkboard.

Emma Shackleton  7:22  

Yeah, but I think this goes back to the point of the structure of the PowerPoint. So if you're just putting in little ideas and little hooks, you can allow the children to go off at a tangent. And don't forget on interactive whiteboard, teachers can write on the slides to adapt them using pens and other technology, they just need the training and to feel confident to do that.

Simon Currigan  7:44  

What you often find as well is people download PowerPoints, because they kind of fit the lesson of their learning intention, but they don't adapt them. And as a result, that PowerPoint doesn't specifically fit the needs of their kids that they have in the classroom right now. And the teacher doesn't have such an awareness or knowledge of the content in the slide, you see this problem as well, when teachers use other people's lesson plans. If you're not invested in the development of that lesson plan, if you don't know the choices that went into developing that plan to make it in the format it is. Now it means you've got poor knowledge about what's going to be delivered in the lesson, which always leads to a poor lesson. So if you've got a PowerPoint that doesn't quite fit, unless you're adapting it, unless you're making sure you know what's on every slide like you would do if you developed it yourself, it's going to result in a poor quality lesson. And if you don't know the content, that means you're going to find it way harder to be flexible in the lesson. If a child asks a question, you're not going to be able to flick back and forth through the slides anticipate content in the way that the person who wrote the slides can. And you know that to be fair, PowerPoint is boring, it's the same format over and over and over. Here's a title, here are three bullet points. Here's a little comic picture that we found in the bottom right hand corner. And I'm just gonna say one of the things about PowerPoints is children don't get to see the adults right. When you used an old fashioned whiteboard or chalkboard. The children have the opportunity to see the adult demonstrating a role modeling handwriting, what it looks like to write on a page. Now with PowerPoint, everything's typed out in advance. So kids don't get the opportunity to see that that's another experience that they're missing out on.

Emma Shackleton  9:27  

I think what you're describing is somebody who's gone too far the other way, though. We need the balance. PowerPoint can be useful. But of course the children also need to see the adults write too and that's what good teachers are doing. They're still doing that modeling, they're still doing that writing and the problem of downloading resources off the internet isn't just restricted to PowerPoints. You could say the same about lesson plans been downloaded, worksheets been downloaded. Good teachers take resources and adapt them so that they're appropriate to their class. They don't don't just accept the resources as they are, whether that's from the internet or from other teachers. It's just about using the tool in the right way to enhance the children's learning.

Simon Currigan  10:12  

And that was just part of the discussion I had with me all the way back in November 2021. The original episode number was 41, where we took opposing points of view and play devil's advocate weighing up the positives and negatives of using technology in the classroom. And during the past two years, we've continued to see an increasing dependence on interactive whiteboards and technology throughout the school day. And I think this is certainly something practitioners should reflect on to hear the full episode on I recommend that you do, just click on the link in the episode description. If you found today's episode helpful. Please take a moment to rate and review us It takes just 30 seconds and when you do, it prompts the algorithm to recommend School Behaviour Secrets to other listeners, and that helps us grow the podcast and reach other teachers, school leaders and parents. Thanks for listening and I look forward to seeing you next time on School Behaviour Secrets.

(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)