The following is a comment I left today for Daniel Rezac on his provocative post, “The Battle for the Interactive White Board: The Kids Surrender.”

I agree screencasting is something everyone should know how to do AND do to share lessons / tutorials. I agree we should encourage teachers not to “hog” the podium / spotlight in the front of the room 100% of classtime – students need to be sharing, teaching, interacting, working in groups at times too. I vehemently disagree, however, with the idea we should “give up” advocacy for better pedagogy inside and outside classrooms and just accept that whiteboards are going to be purchased by all schools and often used horribly to reinforce an exclusive 20th century “stand and deliver” mode of teaching. I reject that.

I strongly suspect you’re NOT being paid by Smart, Promethian, InterWrite, or any of the other whiteboard vendors “out there” to espouse this view, but if they’re reading your blog I’m sure they are applauding. (Along with the thousands of whiteboard vendors out there who want nothing more than to convince a tech-gadget hungry public that their children’s classrooms would be better served with expensive interactive whiteboards than individual, mobile learning devices.) I hypothesize that vendor position is motivated primarily by a profit motive and NOT an understanding of kids, of learning theories, or the kinds of learning environments and interactions between expert and novice learners which make the most long-term impact on the human brain.

I’m going to face a related challenge next spring in my “Technology 4 Teachers” class for undergrads at UCO when I’m required to teach an entire unit on the use of IWBs. I’m likely going to take an approach similar to yours, focusing on screencasting. That’s pedagogy which is potentially transformative. I absolutely will not, and will not encourage anyone else, however, to believe that IWBs are the #1 technology of choice for the 21st century classroom. They are NOT. It is a big deal to get a computer-connected projector in your classroom, but it’s an even BIGGER deal to provide every student with a mobile learning device. The latter model is the one we need to be advocating for and championing, and in some cases it’s a CHEAPER alternative. 95% of the parents and teachers “out in the world” are much more comfortable with a teacher talking at the front of the room, using an overhead projector or an IWB, than they are with a teacher facilitating lessons for students equipped with mobile learning devices. Just because something is easy, or more comfortable, or more common, it is not RIGHT. That is the case today with the integration of IWBs in the classroom.

I encourage you to reconsider your position, and not “give up” in the cause of promoting individualized, differentiated, engaged learning experiences for human beings. IWBs do not hold a candle to mobile learning devices which students KEEP and get to take home, as well as use in the classroom – if our goal is learning which meets individual needs. It’s harder, it’s messier, it’s filled with more questions, but it’s also the RIGHT path we should follow in the 21st century classroom and the blended 21st century learning environment.

Hat tip to Miguel Guhlin for sharing Daniel’s post on his Google Reader, which he has connected to FriendFeed. Daniel’s post was also cross-posted at the Tech Learning Advisors Blog.

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  • http://whitcanblog.blogspot.com Whitney Allen

    Just as disappointing are those that believe Accelerated Reader is an example of using technology in the classroom. Not!!

  • Sam

    Strong words, Wes. But very true. Continue advocating for 1:1 – it is the way to go and will allow for the most transformative learning to occur.
    Sam.

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