IWB is the basis for a transformed pedagogy of real time teaching, inclusive and extended learning. It is now an integral part of the learning process- is to be used as a tool, as and when necessary
By Deepti Sawhney
The British School, New Delhi is a centre of Excellence for the Promethean AvtivBoards. The journey to this effect was filled with learning experiences, both for the staff and the students. We took the Interactive Boards plunge in 2007-08 and slowly phased them in. By 2009, we had an IWB in every classroom and in 2010, having trained staff and achieved the required training levels; we were awarded the Centre of Excellence from Promethean, UK.
The British School aims to make ICT an integral part of the learning process-to be used as a tool, as and when necessary. The curriculum advocates “when to click” rather than “what to click”. With a repertoire of technologies available at hand, the students need to judiciously decide what to use and when, taking decisions after analysing various options, being a part of the critical thinking mantra we advocate. There is an array of material available that is compatible with the Promethean IWB. Externally produced material May or May not match the planning and the flow which learning takes. Some kinds of alterations are required to match various dimensions like the time frame, daily planning and of course, the ability differences in the classroom.
Innovation Lies in the Key
The teaching process has changed over time and has evolved keeping in mind, the changing trends and demands of society. The students are no longer taking in information without processing and without asking the question-why? Thus, arises the need to innovate. Innovation requires a teacher who has the vision, expertise, conviction and the strength to pull it through. A huge amount of importance is given to the emergence of ICT in education as it does have the power to innovate. The motivation that the area provides further enhances the probability of using it as a hook to impart learning.
Towards 21st century Learning
The major benefit of the IWBs is of course, the interactivity! They synchronise together the teacher, the student and the teaching medium and makes learning active and alive. If the teaching-learning activity is planned prudently, it allows students to work together around a shared task, thus advocating and supporting collaborative learning. Skills like critical thinking, creativity, global awareness, initiative and self-direction are some of the student outcomes that are identified by Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The IWB can deftly facilitate all that.
Staff Training-Continuous Professional Development
Staff training for the IWBs is an on-going process. The school has a professional Learning Community which learns by sharing strategies that work and also those that should be avoided. What really bought the idea in was the fact that the staff found the IWBs to be highly motivating and learner-centric. And also, that the working area of a Promethean IWB is very similar to the conventional whiteboard. Even the very techno challenged teachers are at ease using the ActivPen. All teaching staff is required to clear Level 1 certification within 6 months of joining to ensure that we maintain the standard of lesson delivery.
The school follows National Curriculum of England with adaptations to enrich it, relevant to the Indian locale. The staff makes their own lesson content as they know what suits their class best. IWBs lessons are saved as a resource database to be shared, analysed and reflected upon by the teaching community-within and outside school. A lot of flipcharts are available on Promethean Planet, a forum where teachers across the world share ideas and lessons. As the years progressed, the school has accumulated a huge wealth of resources which can be tweaked and used, year after year.
With the resources readily available at hand (provided software), teachers can quickly alter lessons to flow with the needs of the class during real time teaching. A huge amount of activities can be designed to inculcate decision making (associate sound with pictures), problem solving and creativity (2Draw). IWBs along with suitable software and appropriate planning can make abstract concepts of science and numeracy a visual treat. They enhance the lessons with vibrancy of multimedia-which can address all learning styles and intelligences. They are great for all the stages of a lesson-be it the lesson starter or the plenary. Or it can be used just for display, for example, promoting reading by showcasing e-books on screen makes the books come alive. And students can interact with the story by annotating, recording voice-over, twisting traditional tales-the list can go on.
Sharing the Learning
Working with IWBs encourages students to overcome any fear of handling technology. As the IWB basically displays hardware, the students use it for sharing their work, presenting results, making rubrics, doing peer-assessment and showcasing their research. The interactivity of the board makes the students feel in-charge and in full control. The empowerment boosts their confidence level and in the peer-assessment sessions, tactful delivery of observations and positive criticism have been given and received amicably!
Peripherals that Enhance the Experience
Teachers and students using the IWB can be sufficiently mobile, unlike working on the computer. Mobility can be improved further by using peripherals like wireless keyboard and mouse, ActiVote, ActivExpression, etc. ActivSlates facilitate classroom engagement from any corner of the room. This wireless, fully integrated tablet encourages classroom engagement and takes student participation to another level.
Besides, the web-cam attached to the IWB can be used to showcase science experiments, slide observations and art brush strokes.
The IWB supports a vital strand of ICT in the National Curriculum- Reviewing, modifying and evaluating work as it progresses. Several versions of work with annotations can be saved for the students to critically evaluate their work and also reflect on their responses. The IWBs used with learner response systems (ActiVote) show immediate feedback, thus endorsing feedback being timely and immediate. ActivExpression is also a LRS device which helps to make assessment a self-reflection process.