Interactive whiteboards haven't been in my school long. We're in year two or three where you can expect most of the classrooms in the building to have one. A student is used to staring at one six or seven times a day. What's strange is the built-in respect the technology has earned in so little time.

The piece that garners the most attention is the large plastic square hung on the wall. It is the One True Sourceā„¢ for all interactive classroom goodness. What is it really? A big mouse. But it SEEMS like it's doing all the work because the magic pen will let you manipulate items on the screen. 

As long as an image appears on the big plastic square, the board is "in use" whether I'm standing in front of it with the pen or not.

Case in point, a few years ago I stopped standing in front of the board

The projector was still on. An image appears on the plastic slab. I wasn't using the software that comes with the board. I didn't touch the pen for months and months. But as far as the students were concerned, it was in use. 

Then late last school year, we went from a dim projector to something a little clearer at the front of the room:  


The comments were instantaneous. "Wait, you aren't using the ActivBoard?" "Why aren't you using the ActivBoard?" "What happened to the ActivBoard?" They do refer to it by name, so success for the marketing department there.

And I stand there puzzled. I never touch the pen. I never use the official software. I never bring any of them up the board to "engage." Every advantage to teaching off a computer is still present, but roll something in front of the slab and the room goes crazy.

Staring at a technology is not equivalent to understanding how an 84" mouse works.

AuthorJonathan Claydon