Can interactive whiteboards impair learning?

Summary:Guest post: Morgan Panting is at her first year in college (equivalent junior in high school). Besides being the bane of my life, she's also an opinionated little madam with her own rants and raves on technology and student life.

Guest post: Morgan Panting is at her first year in college (equivalent junior in high school). Besides being the bane of my life, she's also an opinionated little madam with her own rants and raves on technology and student life.

The other day at college (our equivalent of high school) I had to endure three difficult, agonising hours of media class. As I sat through these hours, watching the clock slowly tick by, tick after tick, it slowly dawned on me how annoying interactive whiteboards really are. Interactive whiteboards are essentially a computerised, wall mounted version of pen and paper; a vertical Tablet PC if that still doesn’t make sense. You can plug a laptop into it and share applications with the class, save written notes as files and then struggle using it for the duration, quite honestly.

I really do not see the point in them. I mean, at the beginning of the lesson they waste five minutes orientating the damn thing, and even so, once it’s orientated it still decides to write on the opposite side of the board to where the teacher is actually writing. The alignment of these boards is dreadful; what happened to good old whiteboards? Given half a chance, I’d scale the side of the college building and proclaim to the ant-like students below with anti-whiteboard propaganda. After all, good old fashioned whiteboards are so much easier to look at and don't waste time in lessons.

I do realise they have there good qualities though; when a teacher decides to check their email and they've left it on by accident or to watch DVD’s on a nice big screen. But still, an ordinary whiteboard used as a learning tool would be so much easier to write notes on instead of a computerised pen and paper. This is after all coming from someone who loves the latest technology so much, she makes sure she has it. I can't live without my phone for five minutes and if British law permitted, I’d marry my iPod.

But seriously, it’s getting to that stage where every time the teacher goes to 'write' on this whiteboard, the students and myself groan in disgust and lose all interest in the lesson. We’re teenagers after all; we have the concentration span of an attention deficit sparrow. Can our teacher not see the harmful effect it’s having on our education? If I now fail my media course I will base it purely down to that sodding whiteboard, and set it my life’s mission to burning every single one in some strange Hitchcock-version of a one-woman vigilante.

Why we need something so interactive just to write is beyond me. We depend on technology too much, when the human race has adapted itself just fine with the basic transcribing of information. I’m pretty sure we could use a good old fashioned “magic box with moving pictures”, which at the rate of advancing technology, will probably soon be a thing of the past.

Topics: Legal, Enterprise Software

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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