My school has recently committed to purchasing interactive whiteboards for middle school mathematics classrooms to help improve math achievement scores. Unfortunately there appears to be little large scale empirical evidence to support any claims that interactive white boards will be effective in improving student achievement. Additionally, a common thread with respect to criticisms of interactive whiteboards is that they tend to promote teacher centered learning. I can appreciate this criticism however I would argue that many teachers still employ teacher centered practices in their classrooms and one of the allures of the interactive whiteboard is its ability to facilitate teacher centered learning making the approach more effective. I am also intrigued by interactive whiteboard accessories such as the SMART Airliner wireless slate. In theory these devices, which allow students or groups of students to interact with the whiteboard from anywhere in the room, should help promote the integration of interactive whiteboard technology with student centered learning. The technology is relatively new, hence I have been unable to find much literature outside of commercial testimonials to attest to the benefits or potential pitfalls of the wireless slates. Has anyone had experience with using this technology or know of any recent research that I might access.

Thanks Trevor

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I would contact Chris Betcher, who is actually from Sydney, Australia (I think). He blogs here. But he has written quite a bit about interactive classrooms, and I think he would agree, an interactive white board does not make for an interactive classroom. The interactive classroom comes with a paradigm shift in the way an educator thinks of the classroom. No single piece of equipment does that at all. This also goes back to the saying that it is not about the technology, but the learning. Many schools worldwide seem to suffer from the slow rate of change classrooms today so disparately need.

To answer the question of little large scale empirical evidence impacting student achievement I'd like to direct you to the study that was released by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) last fall. A summary of the findings can be found here:
In short, The report examines the progress of 7,272 students in 332 classrooms and found:
Some of the key findings from the research include the following:
• In sixth-grade science, most students made greater progress with two years’ exposure to interactive whiteboards. Some students made as much as 7.5 months’ additional progress
• In sixth-grade writing, some students made 2.5 months’ additional progress with two years’ exposure to interactive whiteboards
• Teachers reported that using interactive whiteboards positively impacted lesson preparation time, student assessment and student learning outcomes

It is important to note that the UK is ahead of North America in their implementation and use of Interactive Whiteboards in the classroom and there are many other studies that you will find by looking across the pond. A huge point that has come from their studies is the importance of PD in conjunction with the hardware to ensure long-term success.

Another place to look is the Emints organization ( They are a PD plan that originated out of the University of Missouri that looked at PD with Technology. They found that 100% of the time, standardized test scores can be improved by using a constructivist approach to teaching and the implementation of the right tools (computers, projectors, printers, SMARTBoards, etc.)

As for the Airliner Wireless Slates, I can tell you that in my experience I would advocate for a board 100% of the time over the slate. Not only is their an additional hardware learning curve with the slate that is not present with the boards, it is drastically a paradigm shift in the classroom environment. The best utilizations of slates that I have seen is when instructors use multiple slates simultaneously in the classroom thus allowing more than one student to ink and annotate on the screen at the same time.

"Hardware without teaching is junk." Any of the above equipment can be a transformative inclusion into the classroom, as long as the teacher commits to seeing how this will change the approach of the teaching environment for them.




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