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Discussion: Investing in interactive whiteboards or not, anno 2017?

on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 15:04

The request for advice on investing in IWBs below on the Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI) list " 

Hi - a number of teachers in my school are keen to spend our IT grant on IWBs.  Can you please let me know your feedback pro and con for this. I personally feel it's the wrong way to go but I would like to hear others opinions please"
triggered 20 messages from 23 participants where the keywords in the reactions pro were:
annotation (also useful as PDF record of lesson activities), great with young learners, useful for science subjects, ok for teachers comfortable with IWB, ok with well planned implementation.

For those representing the con camp these included:
teacher’s tool, poorly designed materials, underuse, restricted use of potential (mere projector), tech hick-ups, old tech, better alternatives: touch screens/walls, tablet connected to projector.
See some representative anonymised quotes at the bottom of this post.

My own contribution (below) was based on experiences in a number of related (recent) EU projects and partly reminiscent of an observation (also?) made by Chris Jones in the eighties: ‘It is not the technology but what you do with it’.

Hi All,
As to the discussion about the potential of IWB I would like to support those colleagues emphasizing the role of subject specific training and - I would like to add- collegial action research. Several studies (e.g. Beauchamp, 2004; Hennessy,2014; Koenraad, 2008). have shown the importance of a practice based 'slow' CPD approach allowing ample time for critical experimentation to gradually develop competences related to materials design and communication skills targeted at promoting IWB-mediated dialogue for learning in the classroom.

The following (EU) projects (for MFL, vocational education and cross curriculum respectively) were initiated to research and support teacher professional development in this domain:

Furthermore, find a summary on Shona Whyte's blog of the principles and guidelines for IWB-supported language teaching practice in Chapter 8 of the edited collection resulting from the first edition of the  iTILT project  'Supporting teacher education for technology integration' here:

And/or check out her blogpost reporting conclusions drawn from researching the teaching procedures and materials developed by practitioners in'

Those interested in an intensive (ErasmusPlus eligible) course to familiarise themselves with the lessons learned, OER training materials and other results of these (EU) projects are recommended to participate in the related courses TELLConsult is offering: 

Finally, as to the question in what hardware to invest I would - with other technological options available nowadays- advise to go for generic solutions such as touch screens so that the use of a variety of materials and authoring softwares can be supported. 


*I am an English and Geography teacher and have a IWB and I have found it to be invaluable. Yes, it terms of interactivity with the class, some materials are contrived and you will have to create most things. However, the real winner for me is class annotation either by the teacher or a student. It is especially useful when working on a series of texts e.g. poems from a particular poet. Everything that I write, every annotation can be put into a PDF and given to students who were missing or have difficulties taking notes. It feels natural as it feels like working with a normal whiteboard instead of a tablet. This has been fantastic. The kids love it…

*Short throw wall mounted projectors might have enough interactivity to meet teachers’ needs without having to go down the full IWB road

*Adding an Apple TV can be good if teachers or students are using iPads in the classroom.

*My experience at 2nd level is that very few teachers make use of the features of an IWB beyond projecting their laptop/computer screen.

  *I wouldn't rule IWB's out but I'd say rather than decide to buy IWB's and then work out how they might be used teachers  should analyse how they want to teach and how they want their students to learn and then aim to buy the technology that best supports that plan, money permitting.

 *Personally I think they are great but more often than not go unutilised. It depends what your school is going for 

 *IWBs/Panels are a great resource at primary level up to around 3rd/4th class. They tend to be used less frequently at secondary level except say for Maths/Science/Technology subjects. Many schools with IWBs and use them purely as an expensive projector screen.

*So IWB are great as long as you have a plan for it as well as the full setup. I'm not a big fan of them BUT I've met teachers who absolutely love them and wouldn't be with out theirs. 

*I've been in so many schools that have unused IWB and where the teacher who is in charge of buying says "I should have spent money on the Surface OR iPads OR Wacom Tabs.

*The county I am working in here in Virginia is not replacing any IWB. We are a 1 to 1 laptop district and are looking at more engaging room layouts with widescreen TVs to promote collaboration. 

*The teachers have used them a lot but the view is that they are a teacher's tool of their time which reinforces chalk and talk. That does not fit in with the student centred approach of instruction what we promote.  

*IWB’s are ”old technology” at this stage. The interactivity has moved from the board into the projector itself. If buying today you would be getting an Interactive Projector or Interactive Panel.

*We had IWBs in my school 3 schools ago and as it was my "job" to get people up & running with IWBs I worked hard to make interactive lessons. They were largely contrived and I fully agree with an earlier post about them reinforcing a teacher centric approach. Not sure if my next suggestion is even possible but if you could hire a couple out and see how well they are used it might be useful. I did that on a smaller scale with visualisers- if they were (literally) gathering dust I moved them on to the next person who said they wanted one......

*I think staff need to have some training first before you get them. From our experience it's not just one day training either  but you would need to set up a schedule of training for the staff. 

*Staff will need to be willing to give some of their own time to become familiar with the software. IWBs need to be in-bedded in to Subject Department Planning for certain. 
Also we suggested that each subject teacher would have at least one lesson a week on the IWB... meaning a very interactive lesson... not just using the board as a projector. So many Subject Departments plan common lessons for use on the IWB.

*In regards IWB training, we received in school training. I personally found it to be a waste of time, the best training that I have gotten is that of talking to other teachers using them. It is also worth considering that they don't integrate well with iPads. 

*My IWB became redundant when I got my Surface Book. I do everything in OneNote and never have to turn my back on the class. It all comes down to what you wish to achieve.

*Just a voice from the past extolling the continuing value of IWBs. Nowadays they are moving into the cloud (with the likes of Classflow) or via sites/apps such as Nearpod, DisplayNote etc. In other words (and even without the online dimension), when properly planned, they are tools not just for teachers but for students also.