by Ron Smith, MLTI/eMINTS Region 3
As a educator who currently has the opportunity to work with staff members in schools across Washington and Hancock Counties, I receive many requests to deliver electronic whiteboard sessions. I always enjoy these sessions, as they tend to be rather fun, fast paced, and hands-on. Educators typically come away excited about using the whiteboard with students.
I recently read this blog post by Wesley Fryer and it’s accompanying comments (by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez, among others) that reflected a lively debate about electronic whiteboard use. The overall tone of the debate (particularly by Stager) was very anti-whiteboard. Some of the more interesting points expressed were:
(1)An electronic whiteboard, by its very nature, promotes a very teacher centered classroom environment. Essentially, from a pedagogical standpoint, there is no difference between a electronic whiteboard and a chalkboard.
(2)The cost of the whiteboard is simply not justified. Limited resources most certainly could be spent in a wiser manner.
(3)Purchasing an electronic whiteboard represents an easy, highly visible, and ultimately unwise representation of creating the illusion of a 21st Century learning environment. Decision makers can quickly point to this purchase as a way of demonstrating their commitment to promoting technology in their schools.
What are your reactions to these assertions? What are some ways in which electronic whiteboards can be used in a true student-centered classroom environment? Are they a good investment for our schools?