I am attending and presenting at our Oklahoma Encylomedia conference today in Oklahoma City. The following sign is in one of the vendor booths.

This should be subtitled, “A great way to waste your school district’s financial investments in technology and the cause of 21st century skills.” Can you think of other appropriate taglines?

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On this day..

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9 Responses to Drills for SmartBoards

  1. Scott says:

    How about “Less worksheets… More trees! We care about the environment!” No better use of technology than digital worksheets!!! 😉

  2. Scott McLeod says:

    “Spend hours on content you can find with Google in 3 seconds!”

  3. […] have been a number of critics (here, here, here) who have critiqued the commonly used term, “21st century skills” to represent a new […]

  4. Reggie says:

    Ugh…am in a district now thats jumped on that bandwagon. Fickle, problematic and not very transformational. Easy for school boards to wrap their hands around and think the hard parts done.

  5. Doug Johnson says:

    Hi Wes,

    Have to take you to task on this one. Sorry.


    My tag line would be “Just one more tool in the teacher’s toolbelt.”

    All the best,


  6. Wesley Fryer says:

    This is the comment I left on Doug’s post linked above:

    I appreciate your pushback on this Doug. I will readily admit some of my more recent thinking on IWB’s has been colored by some pretty extremist views on them. I do agree that games can be enthralling and even engaging for students depending on how they’re used. I guess I’m seeing IWB’s used in many cases in ways that only support teacher-directed instruction, and that sort of use isn’t where I personally think the uses of IWB’s should stop. This photograph and encouragement can support that sort of limited view of the utility of IWBs.

    I’ve taught workshops and shared presentations previously which are focused on how to use IWB’s to engage and enthrall students. I do see both sides of this discussion. I’ve felt a bit burned, perhaps, by some recent blog comments (not by you, by others) where I’ve been painted (or at least felt I’ve been painted) as a traitor to the cause of learner-centered education by suggesting that IWB’s can be used effectively to support instruction.

    As with many situations a balanced view on IWB’s is more appropriate than an extremist perspective, I think. To suggest this to some people, or to recognize simultaneously the potential value of IWB’s while also pointing out that they should not be used exclusively to support teacher-directed instruction can be viewed as hypocritical and self-contradictory.

    I’m teaching a 5th grade Sunday school class this year and am getting to use an IWB each week. I plan to use some interactive games on it to get students involved actively in what we are learning. You’re right, kids often love games like this. Interactive games on a whiteboard may be used in ways which get students more involved in a lesson activity than they might be traditionally just sitting at their desks.

    I’m not sure if my comments and train of thought here is helpful or not. I do see your point, and admit that my comment on this photo is extremist. That view does not reflect the complete spectrum of my opinions about IWBs.

  7. Doug Johnson says:

    Hi Wes,

    This was a longer and more thoughtful response than I probably deserved. Thanks.

    One of the ironies of taking a stand in the “rational center” on any controversial issue is that the centerist doubles his critics – the nut jobs on both extremes.

    Thanks again for the reply. I am sure the debate about IWBs will continue. I do wish it would move from being pro or con the device itself to pro or con how the device is being used.

    All the best,


  8. Wesley Fryer says:

    Doug: I appreciated the chance to share this reflection because it is something that has been on my mind a fair bit in the past few weeks. You’re certainly right about sometimes when we take a stand in the middle. I do appreciate being challenged from different vantage points, because it helps me think differently about ideas– but it can be taxing particularly if there are not other voices lending support or sharing opposing views to those on the extreme / fringe.

    I think sometimes when a person takes a strong stand on an issue it may dissuade others from chiming in, even if they have a less fervent and more moderate position.

    I agree that the focus on the use of the device or tool is key. This reminds me of the “Toolishness is Foolishness” article from Jamie McKenzie back in 2001.

  9. Rick says:

    You mentioned that this was a vendor sign. Can the marketplace drive change in education? I don’t feel that I have seen it, but is it possible? I have felt that so much technology (software and otherwise) geared toward education is simply low end. Low end in quality, versatility, adaptability, applicability and on and on. Yet the stuff sells. Meanwhile companies marketing some great products (long list of web 2.0 tools coming to mind here) to everyone seem to be found by the few educators looking to change. So what would it take for a company to rethink its marketing approach and incorporate new ideas for teachers. What would happen is IWB vendors asked, “what can kids do with this?”

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