Teacher: Interactive Whiteboards the Laserdisc of Ed Tech

Instead of interactive whiteboards, teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron believes that we need to embrace more fully mobile technology.

“The big clunky forward facing, whole class method of lesson delivery via Interactive Whiteboard, I believe, is the Laserdisc of educational technology. The overpriced fad of Interactive Whiteboards is imperfect in their current incarnation.”

Wolpert-Gawron believes that the technology is only as engaging as the lessons created, and she believes the lessons are tedious to create and take too long to set up.

“The prep time to create charts that utilize any effects over-and-above what you would already do with a laptop and LCD projector feels clearly developed by those with a disconnect to the precious time we have in education and the many hats we already wear.”

Another teacher, Bill Ferriter, agrees:

“I’m willing to argue that even with time and training, interactive whiteboards are an under-informed and irresponsible purchase. They do little more than reinforce a teacher-centric model of learning…make presentations, give notes, deliver lectures…I ask you: Do we really want to spend thousands of dollars on a tool that makes stand-and-deliver instruction easier?”

Technology is a prime area of investment for schools across the country. Wamogo Regional High School in Connecticut is taking technology-infused education seriously. Investing in materials that they believe will become a standard in the future, writes Ricky Campbell at The Register Citizen.

Currently, every classroom in Regional School District 6 boasts a SmartBoard on the wall. Instead of the old chalkboards and white boards streaked with markers, SmartBoards are interactive, digital white boards developed by Smart Technologies.

But, Wolpert-Gawron believes that mobile technology caters to individualization and differentiation, which is the present and future of student-centered learning. Mobile technology is cheaper and also represents the concept of “democratization of information,” the openness of high levels of information to the masses, she says.

Two programs instituted into everyday Wamogo student life are the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the One-to-One program. BYOD is a way of allowing students to bring their own laptops, netbooks or tablets to school and One-to-One is predicated on each student having their own laptop readily available.

The programs stemmed from the ideas administrators gained following a trip to Pasack Valley High School in New Jersey. They said the programs are win-win.

“Students are driving the learning,” Wamogo Principal William Egan said. “We’re using these web tools to increase creativity and innovation. Websites are rich sources of information and all of this can supplant textbooks.

“It’s a better educational tool and it’s much more cost-effective,” he added.

On future technology, Wolpert-Gawron says:

“We must guide our purchases to reflect the world around us. We must support the learner on the go. We must support individual use, not teacher-only use. We must support inexpensive options that give us access to the most information, easily accessed and easily presented.”