'Interactive screens will be at the heart of 21st century teaching' - discuss

Ian Campbell wrote a piece for the Irish Times - it's in today's Business Section, page 9, about the future of Interactive Whiteboards in education. Do you think the views expressed are correct, and is he right in saying that there will be a need for an increase in teacher professional devlopment to ensure that teachers are ICT literate?

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I think he raises some good points. Its at times hard to see the incremental value of a white board over a digital projector, and with the level of hype currently surrounding them, I find myself some what skeptical of white boards for general educational use.
For niche applications, they can be brilliant. I've used them for group work, where we had a group discussion with everybody writing on the board at the same time, and moving bits of discussion around so as to put together a better story board, which we were then able to print out and give copies of to every group member to bring home. This worked great, but for the rest whenever I read yet another discussion of all the wonderful things they can do I find myself either substituting "power point" for "white board" and finding no contradiction, or thinking "how does that differ from asking a student up to work on the board in front of the class" and wondering if the students in reality had the same enthusiasm as my maths students have whenever I try this.
If we move away from interactive white boards to interactive screens, it opens it up again. I've taught in smart class rooms where I had all the students sitting in front of a screen and I could ask them all to play with a java applet of a lens system, or projectile motion etc. and I felt this was definitely use full, particularly when we were going to move on to doing a practical experiment with a similar system.
Apparently it is possible to go beyond the 'drag and drop' technology to use Interactive whiteboards for teaching, but I'd like to explore whether teachers feel they have to change their existing practice much before achieving this - is there more they would like to know about how people learn from combinations of visual imagery, words and activities, and I can see the risk of an IWB being used as Powerpoint can be used to the exclusion of all other methods.
Was the smart classsroom using a system like net op to provide opportunities to move between student- and teacher-controlled PCs?
No we were not using software where one could switch views to student screens that I was aware of. What I had to play with was an interactive screen where I could write on whatever was being displayed, a video camera which I could use to show students small details of experiments or to capture images such as a text book diagram, and a DVD player. All this was connected using Hitachi Starboard software, version 6.1, and the image was displayed behind me on a screen.
The actual class was then run in Blackboard,and I could pre-laod information on to the class website for us to use. In most classrooms and labs the students had access to individual PCs on which they were expected to work. I wore a microphone, and if I was using power point, it was quite straight forward to record my lecture which the students could replay after class with the narration in time to the slide show. Recording my on screen notations was also possible, as was capturing information via the podium camera but was less straight forward to do.
The interactive aplets, which I referred to in my previous post, would have been on a website which the students would have accessed via a URL which I would have included in my course notes.
If I wanted to see what was on individual students screens, I would just walk around.
The students would have used the lens system aplet, both in lectures, and in the physics practical where they could model their system once they had parameters for the lenses they were using.

Angela Higgins said:
Apparently it is possible to go beyond the 'drag and drop' technology to use Interactive whiteboards for teaching, but I'd like to explore whether teachers feel they have to change their existing practice much before achieving this - is there more they would like to know about how people learn from combinations of visual imagery, words and activities, and I can see the risk of an IWB being used as Powerpoint can be used to the exclusion of all other methods.
Was the smart classsroom using a system like net op to provide opportunities to move between student- and teacher-controlled PCs?

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