Teaching interactively with electronic whiteboards; Smart boards

A Smart board is a very useful presentational device. It can be used to replace virtually every other class resource, traditional and modern: a blackboard, a flip chart, an OHP, maps, pictures, number lines, books, calculators and cassette and video players for example. At a touch the lecturer has access to a bank of resources that would previously have taken years to accumulate and a vast cupboard to store them in!
But the Smart board has the potential to do much more - to go beyond display, providing a tool for interactive teaching and learning. Interactive teaching involves the use of strategies that stimulate feedback from students. This is not just of benefit to the lecturer. Students learn much more effectively when they are active agents in their own learning, when they make their thinking explicit by words or actions, when they take ownership of ideas and information. Also, some learners will benefit from seeing other students demonstrate and explain their thinking and model how they arrive at their solutions.
The Smart board is an even more powerful stimulus to interactivity because:
* Everyone can write on it and changes can be saved - this gives shared ownership
* It has high visual impact - creating a theatrical effect in the class
* It facilitates better group control/management - the lecturer is up front facing the group
* It makes a wide range of resources instantly available
* Presentations etc can be annotated - by lecturer and students
* It engages students - gets them involved in class activity & by encouraging participation (An interactive classroom is an ideal learning environment)
* It facilitates concept mapping & distance learning - items can be moved around the screen & off-site classes may be held over school/college networks & the internet.
* It supports discussion (on the topic) and peer learning
* Lecturers and students enjoy using it.
It is not always necessary for students to interact physically with the smart board - the lecturer can be a mediator. Sometimes it is okay for the lecturer to hold the pen to model a particular skill or concept but more often than not the students should be directing what is happening on the screen. Other applications lend themselves to student use of the smart boards and there can be no doubt that students enjoy working in this way.
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