I recently re-entered a conversation at Classroom 2.0 about interactive whiteboards. As I’ve written before, I’m not a fan of IWBs – mostly because of the cost. Below is an excerpt from a post I wrote in response to a representative from a company that sells them. The final point I make is pretty simple. Technology is great, but I think that people make a much bigger impact.
…What most administrators and school boards don’t realize is that there are perfectly good free and open-source technologies that do the exact same things for $0. The only difference is that there is no one who comes to your school to show it off and talk about how great it is. Here are some basic examples:
Each of these are free, and I use them in my classroom every week. I have no interactive whiteboard in my room. My students built a wii-board, but we don’t use it that often because we used a borrowed wiimote from a student for it. Since my school doesn’t have much of a budget for technology, I cobbled together as many computers (10) as I could from some businesses and friends who were upgrading. Instead of two students being up at the board, I can have half the class working on a web 2.0 app while I work with the other half on a lab or other activity.
More important than any tool in my classroom, however, are the people. I’ve been blessed to have 1-2 student teacher aides throughout the year. My student teachers are far more interactive and much “smarter” than any SMARTboard. I realize that many teachers do not have this opportunity, but there are lots of volunteers out there. Your school could also take the money they were going to spend on all those iboards and hire a part time aid. It would certainly be more beneficial to the students.