IPads or Interactive Whiteboards? Why you don't have to choose.

We all know that the introduction of mobile devices - most significantly the iPad - into education has revolutionised the way that teachers are able to deliver content; not only in class but when setting homework, too. It has also, however, seen a large number of schools opting to remove and discard their Interactive Whiteboards; some it would seem with barely a moment’s consideration. Having used IWBs for over a decade, I think this not only betrays extreme profligacy, but that it also shows a disregard for the money that was spent installing them in the first place.

Yes, the iPad allows for a vast number of functions and applications that offer a huge range of possibilities, with some apps like Socrative and Nearpod erasing the need for expensive and, some might say, cumbersome IWB add-ons like voting devices. And whereas the point-and-shoot immediacy of a tablet camera makes using a Document Capture device seem like the equivalent of wearing a sundial on your wrist, I still believe IWBs have a place in teaching. Yes, certain apps are a no-brainer for certain tasks - e.g. Educreations or Explain Everything for flipped lessons - but I still find that IWBs allow for a certain ease of use, both in the creation and utilisation of activities in the classroom.

IWB activities only need to be made once; are easy to transport on memory sticks; and can be altered, added to or simply destroyed by students in class with no lasting damage having been done. On top of this, there’s no reliance on wi-fi, while IWBs’ sheer largess makes for easy viewing from all areas of the classroom. Meanwhile, the capacity for students to interact with activities on their feet at the front of the room, allows for shifted lesson focus while helping students to develop speaking and presentation skills.

If this sounds like someone rallying against new(er) technology, then you couldn’t be more wrong: I constantly use mobile devices when teaching and training; I just think that, as someone who has made and shared hundreds upon hundreds of IWB activities over the past fifteen years, it would be a shame to confine them to the dustbin of history - particularly when they continue to do such a good job for me.

And while there are those who might argue that investing in new IWBs might not make the best economic sense (something I'm inclined to agree with), throwing out the boards that are already screwed onto classroom walls leaves me scratching my head and toying with ‘baby and bathwater’ cliches. At the moment, the iPad / tablet is one of many tools we can use to educate, but let’s not consider it the only piece of new technology worth using until it really can do everything.

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My book, 400 Ideas for Interactive Whiteboards, is aimed primarily for EFL teachers; to take a look at it, click here: https://www.amazon.com/Ideas-Interactive-Whiteboards-Barney-Barrett/dp/0230417647#customerReviews



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