I received the following email on the California Education Technology Professionals Association (CETPA) listserve the other day:
----- Message from firstname.lastname@example.org ---------
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 08:13:49 -0700
From: Tech Coord <email@example.com>
Subject: [edtech] Interactive Boards
In case you wonder about the hype and what can be done with interactive boards, check out what this math teacher does:
And I must confess, I lost it. My response:
From: CETPA [mailto:CETPA] On Behalf Of Jim Klein
Sent: Monday, April 12, 2010 10:04 AM
Subject: Re: [edtech] Interactive Boards
Excellent proof that a great teacher will make excellent use of whatever tools you give them. You could give a great teacher a chainsaw and they would find a way to "carve out" a useful lesson with it. The real question is, what are the best tools for learning - not teaching. If it's an IWB, then I'm all for it. However, there is little evidence that this is the case (for those who would rush to Marzano, the study has been widely debunked as poorly constructed and designed to produce the results Promethean was looking for - see http://edinsanity.com/?s=marzano for further review).
I believe that the best learning tool for a student is a personal, connected device. For the cost of an IWB install, I can get 15 kids netbooks that will be far more powerful learning/production/creativity tools. I can buy the rest for the cost of response systems and doc cams added to that IWB. And I have no doubt, through direct experience, that personal devices offer the only real potential to transform the learning environment into the technology-rich, participatory space we all seek. The more access students have to technology, the more opportunities they have to learn/participate/grow.
The long and the short of it is if the teacher touches the technology more than the students, then it has little chance of transforming the learning environment. IWBs make teachers and administrators feel good about their technology use, but in most districts amount to little more than a photo op for district leaders when it comes to real, transformational change.
We need to stop using the phrase "teaching and learning" because that creates the perception that learning is all about delivery and reception, producers and consumers, and ultimately leads to the pursuit of delivery technologies such as this, which have no hope of producing any lasting improvement or change. Instead, we need to start using the phrase "participatory learning environments" where students take an active role in and responsibility for their own learning. If all we seek is to reform school, then by all means, improve content delivery using the same structures you already have in place. It's easy and uncontroversial. If, however, we seek transformation, then we must choose to take on that which is hard. To challenge habits and traditions. To take on socio-political structures that would seek to maintain the status quo. Only then will we see schools become relevant again. Only then will school once again be a place where students want to be, where they are excited to learn, and where they will develop the entrepreneurial, self reliant, creative skills that will lead them to success, no matter what their endeavor.
"Finis Origine Pendet"
Did I overreact? Probably. It was just a fun prank that had nothing to do with IWBs. But I couldn't help it. I've grown so weary of all the conjecture, unfounded claims, and hype over such an ineffective waste of money, especially in our current fiscal condition. If we really want to invest scarce technology dollars in the most impactful, transformative way possible, an IWB is the last thing to buy, not the first.
Credit to Gary Stager for effective use of chainsaws by teachers.
Posted by Jim Klein |