Schools are spending for high-tech gizmos like interactive whiteboards to teach 21st-century students. But it’s not clear the expensive gadgets help teachers teach any better, reports the Washington Post.
Many academics question industry-backed studies linking improved test scores to their products. And some go further. They argue that the most ubiquitous device-of-the-future, the whiteboard — essentially a giant interactive computer screen that is usurping blackboards in classrooms across America — locks teachers into a 19th-century lecture style of instruction counter to the more collaborative small-group models that many reformers favor.
Educational technology spending will total $16 billion next year, analysts estimate.
Nancy Knowlton, the chief executive of SMART Technologies, said that schools are desperate to find ways to engage multi-tasking, tech-savvy kids, who often play video games before they can read and that some “strictly gathered research data,” along with anecdotal evidence, show that her company’s products work.
“[Students] are engaged when they’re in class, they are motivated, they are attending school, they are behaving and this is translating to student performance in the classroom,” she said. “Kids want an energized, multimedia learning experience.”
One in three classrooms will have a whiteboard by 2011.
Teachers and kids like whiteboards a lot, writes Dan Willingham on The Answer Sheet. But research shows students don’t learn more.
In many districts, the technologies have simply been plopped into teachers’ classrooms with minimal or no support. Little wonder that they are not being used as effectively as they could be.
Some teachers have learned how to use whiteboards creatively and well, he writes. They should be identified, funded and asked to teach their colleagues how to use technology to improve learning.