I have been fortunate enough to use and experiment with interactive whiteboards. Specifically, I had a permanent SMART Board in my last classroom, and I currently have access to reserve the classroom/computer lab with a SMART Board.
From my experience, classrooms with ample space near the front of the room or the area where the SMART Board is located provide for the best student-interactions. Moreover, spaces where projectors can be hung from the ceilings provide the least amount of visibility issues also where cords are easily tucked along floorboards or even overhead to prevent tripping. Classrooms like a computer lab, where students have to maneuver between expensive pieces of electronic equipment do not truly allow for the mobility of a student-interactive SMART Board. Now, if it is simply the teacher 3manipulating the Whiteboard, then most of this does not apply (but what is the point of an Interactive Whiteboard if students are not going to interact with it?)
I have also found that the older the students get, the more resistance there is to interacting with the whiteboard. Presumably, this is because it must be done up in front of the class for seemingly the whole world to see, but it leads me to believe that these types of boards my be better suited for middle or even primary grades.
I created a SMART Board lesson on improving sentence structure and writing. The most difficult part of using the software is understanding all of the many potential components or capabilities of the SMART Board. Trial and error is really the best and yet the most time consuming process to use. This lesson specifically was meant to be more of a review where I could more or less exploit as many of the “cool” or high-interest functions of the board. The easiest part is engaging and getting the kids involved. Many of them have already had exposure to this type of a board or they intuitively understand how to work with it. Clearly, this engagement helps to improve and thus benefit their learning, but it is difficult to say how regularly this process could be maintained.
The Interactive Whiteboard can be considered an agent for change to enable education to match the changing innovations of our ever-changing culture and society. This seems especially pertinent to a course designed for educators when you consider how little school culture has changed throughout history. If you think of what a doctor-in-training had to learn 30 years ago, that same knowledge would not aptly prepare a doctor to practice medicine in today’s society (30 years later). On the other hand, a teacher-in-training could quite easily apply the same knowledge he or she would have learned 30 years ago and still manage to fulfill the general needs of a student today (30 years later). It is through classroom tools like the Interactive Whiteboard that the classroom is able to parallel modern technology advance which students have become so used to using in their every day lives.