ICT as a cognitive tool

Despite the fancy title, this blog is about the use of IWBs, or if you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years when the government was handing out money to schools faster than they could print it, Interactive WhiteBoards.

Yes, thats correct, put away your chalk, throw away your dusters, move aside whiteboard markers, there is a new toy in town. I present to you, the Promethean board…. *cue evil music*

A teacher shows off his skills of using an IWB

Quite possibly one of the most misunderstood and misused tools in modern education, the IWB has become the newest edition to collection of sources for teacher’s to display information.

Back in kindergarten, we had blackboard and chalk. The teacher would write things on the board, we would recite them and then move on. By Year 2, we had whiteboards in our classrooms, the same concept applied, however the ‘teacher’s pet’ was allowed to write on the board sometimes (never got to write on the board #sadface). As I hit high school, teachers photocopied so many sheets I swear half the rainforest’s destruction is because of them. Then came the data projector, a means for teachers to spend twice as long as they would previously would by having to research and type up their information in order to display it. This technology was amazing, mainly because setting up the equipment took up half the lesson, and then pulling it apart took the other half of the lesson.

The concept of an IWB is meant to create an atmosphere in the classroom for more involvement between teacher and student, discussion amongst students and to basically make the teacher look ‘hip’ and up to date with the technologies of today’s society.

If using an ‘interactive whiteboard’ isn’t cool enough for you, someone decided that the students could use technology such as this to complete missions and tasks which have earned the horrific label, WebQuest.

Get this, it's a quest that students have to do, on the web! Amazing!

Since I’m feeling rather jolly today, I’ve decided to provide you with a link to a WebQuest I’ve actually made and is being used by a class I team-teach. See this link here -> The Lion King Webquest <- thats the WebQuest right there. Click on it. You know you want to.

So you ask, why on earth do we need to have things like IWBs, let alone why should we use WebQuests?

Lets think about this for a second here, students in school today, your brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, girlfriends, whatever the relation, you’ll know first hand getting kids to sit still for a 40-60 minute lesson is a mission and a half. Honest, at the end of every class I think I’m worthy of a medal or an award to say ‘Best Use of Social Media’ (bit of a dig there aimed at Australian Football). The important thing is to get students up off their seats, learning as a group and using oral language skills to explore and explain what they have learnt.

In an English class for example, how can you get a student to care about Shakespeare? Too often I’ve heard shouts of “he was that poofter wasn’t he?”. This is where the teachers under the age of 300 (bit of an exaggeration perhaps) possibly need to change their style of educating. At university we’re focusing on a means of getting the students to engage with their texts on a bigger scale rather than it being a ‘read the book, saw the film, bought the t-shirt’ situation. The idea of lecturing and tutoring students is out the door, or is it?

Some people subscribe to this concept of learning styles. If I lectured to you for 50 minutes straight about the use of John Williams’ music in films such as Star Wars, Jaws or Indiana Jones, there is a good chance you’ll hear about half of what I say, maybe pick up some key words but that will be about it. If I showed you pictures and sat there in absolute silence, getting you to explain to me the relevance behind it all, you’re orally conveying your foundation knowledge which is basically just reciting whatever you already know.

The Blackboard vs the Promethean board

Now, if I take you to a room which has a Promethean board in it and we work together to share knowledge and understanding, take in information from others. Suddenly things start to make sense. But really, is this much different from when I was back in kindy and we were sharing information on a blackboard?

Sure, by using an IWB I can change the colour of the pen, use a highlighter, create shapes for mind maps, calculate quantum physics and ‘surf’ the web, but with a blackboard I want change the colour pen I’m using, I am underline important words, solve huge mathematical equations with my head not a calculator. But is being on a computer constantly really THAT important?

This is the article I had to read for this week’s class, it’s amazing in providing the basic understanding for how to use a IWB, but I’d rather have a whiteboard any day.


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One response to “ICT as a cognitive tool

  1. Pingback: Pedagogical beliefs and ICT integration | petenowakowski

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