Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gary Stager Finally Shares Why He Thinks Interactive Whiteboards / Smartboards Suck

Effective use of Smartboard? Image: Courtesy Tom Welsh
I first met Gary Stager at last year’s EduCon 2010 in a session he was doing that was a spoof on places like Google and Apple making you certified teachers.  Participants could become Stager certified, with real live certificates.  Great session, but what stood out was that like me, Stager had a distaste for interactive whiteboards (IWBs).  

Mine started about 6 years ago when we launched a 1:1 laptop program in NYC where every teacher was to receive an IWB. No! No! No! I screamed.  Please don’t waste money on that!!! Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. My colleague working on the project actually left to work for an IWB company (He later left the company confessing he now  gets what I’m talking about). In the meantime, my cries fell on deaf ears and hundreds of IWBs marched off to the schools. Ah! The horror!

At the session I asked Gary if he’d written anything about his dislike of the devices. I was surprised to learn the answer was no.  I told him I hoped he would and in the meantime, I wrote several of my own posts explaining why I hate interactive whiteboards which you can read here.

Last week on Twitter, I was thrilled to see Gary announce that he decided to articulate why he believes IWBs are a terrible investment that breathes new life into medieval educational practices.  He questioned if Tech & Learning would publish his thoughts in their “interactive whiteboard” issue.  Having written a few pieces of my own about why I hate interactive whiteboards, I was pretty sure “fair and balanced” would win out over “bias and sell out.” I was right and readers of Tech & Learning’s March issue will be treated to Gary’s piece.  His main argument is that,
“They reinforce the dominance of the front of the room and teacher supremacy. At a time of enormous educational upheaval, technological change, and an increasing gulf between adults and children, it is a bad idea to purchase technology that facilitates the delivery of information and increases the physical distance between teacher and learner.”
Hear! Hear! I medievally chant from the blogosphere and Twitosphere!

Gary comes out swinging dispelling these myths about the usefulness of interactive whiteboards.  
•    The kids are so engaged.
•    It’s just a tool.
•    It all depends on how teachers use it.
•    You should see it when the kids use the board!
•    We use it to share student work.
•    Our ninth graders went to Israel for a month and didn’t miss a math lesson.

To find out how he shoots holes in those arguments visit Whiteboards—A Modest Proposal by Gary Stager and/or read the March issue of Tech & Learning.

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