Smartboards and other whiteboards are all the rage in education today. Every classroom should have one- right? Too many of these very expensive platforms ineffectively used and underutilized. If you are going use one effectively to maximize learning, why have one at all? Overhead projectors are far cheaper and less finicky. What makes them effective- two things increase response rate from children and increased feedback from teachers.
Ryan Lacy's article in District Administration Magazine talks about the feedback element in his article, "Richer Responses, Faster Feedback." He talks about wanting to know where his kids were in understanding material and how various response systems have enabled this. Clickers are purchased with whiteboards, apps on smart phones and tablets, and website enabled programs are all available now. His article highlights many of these programs with. One caveat- if you are relying on student provided technology, be careful that everyone has a way to participate. Assuming everyone has a smartphone is a problem- they don't- and even if they do, they may not want to or be allowed to use their data for your activity.
Total participation response systems are highly effective in increasing achievement for students. It can be done cheaply through dollar store magnet, personal whiteboards, hand signals or paper cards or expensively through response systems. A key to performance is use. If a teacher is uncomfortable using Total Participation Techniques without technology, technology will not improve the situation. We can use this information to formatively assess learning and alter instruction to maximize learning or not. When we choose to ignore the wealth of research that says it is important, we are not committed to learning success for our whole class.
Interactive whiteboards do tend to increase engagement, but if it only passive entertainment style engagement, there is no point to it all. We need to use these programs to enhance instruction, eyes on us silence.