Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is An Interactive Whiteboard Appropriate for the Early Learning Classroom?

     I have had the privilege to be able to teach with an Interactive White Board over the past couple of years, specifically a SMART Board.  During that period of time, I have worked diligently by seeking out training sessions, mentors, and other forms of PD in order to strengthen my technical skills.  I am now working on developing high quality lessons incorporating best practices.  I love using my SMART Board, my students love using the SMART Board, yet there are still others who do not think highly of its effectiveness in Early Childhood education.  Why, might one ask?  Well, there are many reasons that are given to me, but I am just going to elaborate on a couple of them.  One answer is that because it's not the teacher - and it is taking away from the teacher.  I don't agree.  The SMART Board is not the teacher - I'm the teacher!  The SMART Board - or any other educational technology could never replace the teacher.  It's merely a tool; and how the teacher chooses to use it in his or her classroom is another story.

     A second answer that I have been given is that the children are just too young.  But, are they really too young?  Our younger generation is growing up with technology and they are really expecting to be able to use technology when entering the classroom.  I recently watched a webinar entitled, "Is an Interactive Whiteboard Appropriate for the Early Learning Classroom?" that was offered by SMART Technologies and Hatch. You can access the recorded webinar by visiting the following URL.  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/en_US/island/webinar/registrationPost.tmpl?Action=rgoto&_sf=6 I found the webinar to be very beneficial.  An Interactive Whiteboard is indeed developmentally appropriate for an Early Learning classroom when it is used appropriately.  I have listed below some helpful information that was given during the course of the webinar.

     When considering Educational Technology for the Early Childhood population the following is a list of things to consider.

  • Touch enabled - Having touch enabled technology in the classroom is a big plus.  Touch is everywhere else in our students' lives.  Children see their parents using these touch technologies for so many different purposes in their lives and they want and expect to be able to use the touch enabled technologies too.  Touch is pretty intuitive and natural.  Children enjoy interacting with their environment through touch.  Touch enabled technology is great for younger children who are still working to develop their fine motor skills.
  • Promotes interactivity - It's important that the students should be doing something because we want them to interact with the content to help them retain what they are learning.  We want them to interact with the content and be actively learning. So with younger students, this interactive approach is also going to be developmentally appropriate.    We know our early learners have a limited attention span and are also very active.  Incorporating technologies that engage younger children that allow them to move around and allow them to interact with the content, it's going to be very beneficial for them.
  • Supports multi-sensory learning - The definition of multi-sensory learning  is active learning in which multiple modes of sensory input are used simultaneously.  This includes: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Kinesthetic ways of learning.  According to research, every person has a different learning style with one mode usually a strength, but we learn best when information is presented using a combination of all modalities.  Finding a technology that will allow you to teach and that will also incorporate multi-sensory learning is also going to positively impact your students' achievement.
  • Universal Design for Learning - UDL provides a framework for evaluating which products have the potential to work best for all learning environments.  The goal was to focus on ways to use computer technology to improve the education for all students.
          Three Technology Design Principles of UDL:
    1. Technology should provide multiple means of representation - give learners different ways to acquire information and knowledge (interactive text, images, sound, video). 
    2. Technology should provide multiple means of action and expression - give students alternatives to demonstrate what they know.
    3. Technology should provide multiple means of engagement - tap into the learner's interest and what motivates them.
     The webinar continued with comparing the use of an Interactive Whiteboard to the use of an iPad, which is definitely a "hot" topic in today's Early Childhood's classrooms.  Although I was aware of the following beforehand, many teachers were not.

Comparing an Interactive White Board with an iPad
Each is best used for a different purpose

What is an IWB good for in the classroom?  
  • Whole group instruction
  • Direct and explicit teaching
  • Modeling of strategies - think alouds
  • Providing guided practice
  • Promoting group discussion
  • Problem solving
  • Collaboration
What are iPads good for?
  • Small group practice
  • Individual practice
  • Creation -students can be creative with the apps
  • Assessment
  • Personalized learning
The bottom line is that each educational technology was designed for a specific use.  It was not designed to replace the teacher.  It is the teacher's responsibility to develop age appropriate lessons for his or her class and integrate the technology when it will enrich the content that is being taught.  It is the the teacher's duty to create a learning environment which will enable the students to be successful learners.


  1. I agree with you, Rebecca. In the end, interactive whiteboards are just tools developed to aid the teacher. You still make the lesson plans, choose the appropriate teaching materials, and decide how to teach them what they need to learn. Like all tools, the IWB’s effectiveness depends on how good you are as a teacher.

    Sam Jephson

    1. Sam, thanks so much for your comment. I look at my blog not just as a "persuasive essay," but a way to collaborate and learn with others. It was proper training that led me to success that I am having with EdTech in my classroom.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.