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Interactive Whiteboards Superfluous in the Classroom?

Writer and educator Lisa Neilson, recently published an article for Techlearning, entitled "The Ten No No's of Teaching with a Projector or Interactive Whiteboard." Currently the Technology Innovation Manager for the NYC Department of Education, Ms. Neilson has seen a lot of teachers at the front of many classes all using all projectors and whiteboards. I thought she’d have an interesting take on things and I was not disappointed. The article lists nine "no no" scenarios ranging from a teacher working with her back to the class to using a classroom projector as a blackboard replacement. She gives a description of the problem, the solution to remedy it, and the advantages of applying that solution.

But the 10th “no no” was a really bold statement that read “Don’t waste money on an interactive whiteboard without some smart reasons.” According to Neilson, in the five years she’s spent observing technology use in the classroom, she has yet to see a lesson where students were more engaged or the lesson was more enhanced because of the presence of an interactive whiteboard. In her view, a laptop and classroom projector alone actually allow a teacher to achieve the very things teachers often list in funding proposals as being unable to accomplish without an interactive whiteboard. I’m sure there are arguments to support and refute this. However,contention aside, one cannot deny the timeliness of products like the Epson Brightlink which lets a user effectively turn any screen, blackboard, or blank wall space into an IWB without the extra cost. Manufacturers like BenQ Optoma and Viewsonic and others are either introducing or developing their own interactive projectors that will create a value proposition that could really alter the landscape in classrooms around the world.

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