Chandler, C. P. (2006). Teachers, teaching methods and whiteboards. Instructional Technology Monographs 3 (2). Retrieved <insert date >, from http://itm.coe.uga.edu/archives/fall2006/cchandler.htm.

Teachers, Teaching Methods, and Whiteboards

by

Candi P. Chandler

The University of Georgia

 

 

Abstract

This case study action research investigated if having Promethean whiteboard technology will influence the instructional decision making of teachers. Two specific questions are: 1) Will teachers adopt a highly effective teaching pedagogy, and 2) Will the LoTi level for the teachers improve through using the whiteboard system? The two participants were fourth grade math teachers who have never used the whiteboard technology before. Individual interview and classroom observations were used as data collection techniques. The results show that although major pedagogy changes did not take place, the teachers were motivated to seek better ways to teach and their methodology for technology integration did change. The study implies that merely having access to state of the art technology is not enough to cause teachers to choose new teaching pedagogies or improve their technology integration practices. Staff development specifically geared toward technology integration and highly effective teaching pedagogy is also needed.

 

 

Literature Review Methods Results and Discussion Conclusions References

 

Introduction

Teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms have changed dramatically over the last twenty years. In 1987 there was not a single computer in any classroom at my school because computers were too expensive for my school system to purchase and too slow to be considered effective teaching tools. In my school today there is not a classroom with fewer than three fully networked computers with high speed Internet access and two sophisticated computer labs with 28 fully networked machines each. Recently my school purchased a new whiteboard system, Promethean ACTIVBoard, as an important step toward a more extensive application of information technology. In this context my research question asks how will teachers at my school integrate the new whiteboards and accompanying software into the curriculum and what teaching methods will they use for integrating this new technology? In this study, I explored the teaching methods used with the whiteboard technology and software, looking for possible changes in teaching methods, while teaching the same pre-whiteboard curricula.

The research on technology integration into the K-12 school setting is becoming increasingly prevalent. The topic has appeared repeatedly in current educational literature (e.g. Earle, 2002; Metheny, Harpold, Holzer, Swander, Hooker, Hunter, & Bailey, 2003; Steelman, 2005). School systems constantly increased their investment in hardware and software (Earle, 2002; Reynolds, Treharne, & Tripp, 2003). Many educators believe that technology has the potential to improve both teaching and learning (Reynolds, Treharne, & Tripp, 2003; Weeden, 2002; Schank & Cleary, 1995) and that the real importance is not found in the technology itself, but in the way that it is integrated into the learning environment.

Studies demonstrate how teachers have used technology to support teaching pedagogies, such as constructionism, project based learning, and problem based learning. They conclude that the technology enhances the students' experience, when the teacher adopts effective pedagogies. What these studies do not show is how the teacher arrives at the pedagogy to use with the technology. If pedagogy drives technology decisions, then how might the technology influence the pedagogy decisions, if at all? Which comes first, deciding on the pedagogy or the technology?

The purpose of this study is to investigate the teaching pedagogies and styles employed by the 4 th grade math teachers at an elementary school in the southeastern United States with a particular hardware and software package. This school year the school system has chosen to pilot the use of Promethean hardware and software in two classrooms. This study spotlighted the choices made by the teachers who have access to this technology and how they responded to the technology. I examined their methods to see if they fit under a definition of constructionism, project based learning, or problem based learning or if their pedagogies are a mixture of several types, and if so, what types. In this study, the adopted teaching pedagogies were defined as teacher centered lecture, constructionist, problem-based, and project-based. Teacher centered lecture represents an instruction in which the teacher presents information dominantly. The constructionist pedagogy represents an instructional format in which students actively construct meaning in the classroom. In problem-based learning classrooms the students learn through solving problems that are relevant to them. In project-based learning classrooms students learn through the process of completing projects. So, in this study I am specifically interested in which pedagogy the teachers use with the new whiteboard technology tools.

 

 

Literature Review

Introduction

Due to the fact that our students live in a multimedia world, it is more difficult for teachers to capture their students' attention with traditional tools such as chalkboards (Gatlin, 2004). More and more schools are turning to using interactive whiteboards to keep students' attention during a teaching session. According to Borja (2002) the whiteboard systems have been outselling traditional chalkboards for the past five years.

The reason for this study is to explore teachers' reactions to the whiteboards, their adaptations, if any, to the way they teach when using the whiteboards, and their reflections on the difference it might make with student learning. This literature review was conducted to answer the following questions: 1) What are interactive whiteboards? And 2) what teaching practices are enhanced by whiteboard technology? The answers to these two questions might then influence purchase decisions in regard to materials and supplies for use in this elementary school's mathematics classrooms. The Board of Education is committed to providing teachers with the tools they need to increase student achievement. This study is designed to help them in making those decisions.

 

Interactive Whiteboards

Interactive whiteboards are electronic chalkboard-size devices that are similar to flat screen televisions but function like a touch screen computer (Laschert, 2004). They are typically placed at the front of the classroom and are usually connected to a computer and data projector. Teachers and students can write directly on the board to annotate and highlight any image and text (Media & Methods, 2006). “Teachers can write notes, manipulate images on the screen, open new files and programs, run a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, log on to the Internet, show a short film, and even record a lecture without ever stepping away form the board—or the front of the class” (Laschert, 2004)

The Promethean whiteboard system produces an all inclusive whiteboard system that has both hardware and software to support instruction. (See Appendix A) Its latest version is ACTIVBoard, which enables devices to communicate wirelessly without using the many cables that traditionally connect computers and whiteboards (Media & Methods, 2004). Promethean's system also includes individual student input devices called ACTIVotes, which can be used to gain immediate feedback on all kinds of questions. The teacher can present the questions orally, on the whiteboard, or on paper. The students respond to the questions using their ACTIVote in such a way that the responses are anonymous to the class but not to the teacher (Gatlin, 2004). Immediate feedback allows the teacher to know the learning needs of each individual student throughout the lesson so that instruction may be customized as it unfolds.

 

Effective Teaching Practices

Constructionism is both a theory of learning and a strategy for education. It builds on the “constructivist” theories of Jean Piaget, asserting that knowledge is not simply transmitted from teacher to student, but actively constructed in the mind of the learner. Learners don't receive ideas; they create ideas (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001).

Computer programs that are designed with an interactive and exploratory approach help students to construct their own meaning (Kordaki & Potari, 2002). For example, the visual feedback of a math concept helps students to build their own meaning of the concept. Whiteboard software, such as that offered in the Promethean system, allows the teacher to stamp multiple images such as coins or place a ruler on the screen so that students can manipulate the money to make change or measure distance in centimeters or inches (Byrd, 2005).

Teachers can foster creativity and responsibility for the students' work through using technology effectively in a problem-based learning approach. This is of great value for engaging students actively in the learning process, as they interact with each other in relation to the mathematics they are learning (Cawley et al, 2003). Math concepts can then be interconnected to other subject areas (Garofalo & Sharp, 2003). If true this will allow the teacher to connect concepts to other concepts, rather than teach them in isolation, as is typically done in an average mathematics class. Ultimately, this leads to a deeper understanding, as well as the ability to transfer that knowledge to other learning situations.

Allowing students to develop multimedia projects is an excellent approach for teaching mathematics skills using project-based learning. One of the most important benefits of developing multimedia projects is that it provides an in-depth understanding, rather than easy memorization (Steelman, 2005). Students not only enjoy the learning process, but also find the use of the technology beneficial in their mathematics (Metheny et al, 2003). In computer-based education, students are more willing to test out their ideas using technology, rather than with pen and paper (Reynolds et al, 2003). Students become more engrossed in their work and develop a deeper understanding and a greater view of the whole picture through developing a multimedia project (Weeden, 2002).

The interactive white board could be used as an excellent tool for giving students immediate feedback (Gatlin, 2004), as well as presenting their projects and problem solutions. Through whiteboard technology, a highly motivating, interactive atmosphere can be established in classrooms (Clemens et al, 2001). “It simply allows teachers to do what they do best…teach” (“Activating Learning”, 2006 p.36).

According to Gatlin (2004), teachers easily adapt to whiteboard technology because they do not have to redesign their existing lesson plans. Instead, the technology enhances their lesson plans with multimedia representation and interactivity. This characteristic might imply that there is no need for a teacher to change his or her existing teaching strategy. However, in practice, another viewpoint exists. As a teacher reported in Byrd (2005)'s study, “The whiteboard solution has opened my eyes to different ways to teach…” (p. 12). Loschert (2004) also concluded from her study that “It forces better teaching” (p. 30). While yet another warns that “It's made teaching harder. It involves more thought and more preparation” (Borja, 2002 p.8). These reactions seem to imply that while changes in teaching are not required, the technology does inspire teachers to change their teaching styles and strategies.

 

Summary

Interactive whiteboards are a highly interactive teaching tool that allows both the teachers and students to interact with each other and the technology. The whiteboard system also provides a wide variety of multimedia options, and instant student feedback as well. Practicing teachers have reported a variety of reactions to the application of the whiteboard system ranging from very positive to negative. The primarily positive reactions are based on increased student motivation, while the primarily negative responses involved increased planning time. The literature shows that whiteboard technology can support highly successful teaching practices, such as constructionism, problem based, or project based learning. The question that remains to be answered is will teachers choose to incorporate these highly successful teaching methods, when provided with the interactive whiteboards. The teachers involved in the study have been trained in these pedagogies through their college training yet evidence of the use of these pedagogies is not currently found in their practice.

 

 

Methods

This qualitative study took place at an elementary school in the southeastern United States . It followed the teaching practices of two fourth grade math teachers over the course of two units of instruction. The students in the fourth grade were divided into eight classrooms this year and those classes have been divided into two teams of four classes each. Each team has one math teacher who is responsible for the mathematics education of all four classes on the team.

The teachers have both Promethean hardware and software installed in their classrooms for the first time this fall semester. (An interface and introduction about the system has been included in Appendix A.) Both teachers received ten hours of training from a trainer employed by Promethean prior to the beginning of the school year with additional training to follow at their request. The training was on the use of the hardware and software only. The training did not focus on how to teach but on how to use the system itself. Follow-up training by Promethean has been included in the purchase price of the system. This follow-up training is open ended and planned to answer the specific questions that the teachers generate following use of the system. The questions could be purely tool functions or they could involve specific teaching strategies and would be left for the participating teachers to decide.

This study included a pre-training interview, a post-training interview, and observations of the participants teaching of two units of instruction. The pre-training interview focused on participants initial reactions with the Promethean system. The post-training interview evaluated participants' mental model changes and understandings with the system. Two, one period lessons were observed during the course of each unit for a minimum of four observations for each teacher. Four observations were conducted using video taping. Following their training on the use of the system the teachers were given one month to become familiar with the tools. They then planned and delivered instruction on the first unit to be observed. The observations focused on the teaching style and teaching methods that these teachers chose with the Promethean system available to them. Observations were also focused on the way the hardware and software were integrated into their teaching and how it ranked on the LoTi scale.

The results were presented by comparing different elements. First, I examined for differences in the plans and expectations that the teachers had based on their pre-training and post-training interviews. In addition, any change in teaching methods used between the first unit and second unit was examined to explore how use of the system effected the planning and implementation of instruction. As a method of assessing technology integration, the Levels of Technology Implementation (LoTi) scale provided a measure of authentic classroom technology use in classroom instruction, lesson plans and other integration efforts. “The LoTi Framework focuses on the use of technology as a tool within the context of student based instruction with a constant emphasis on higher order thinking.” (About LoTi, 2006) So as a last step of data analysis, the LoTi scale was used to examine participants' current technology use levels (Learning Quest, 2001). I compiled the observation data and analyzed it to determine how the technology was integrated into the math curriculum using LoTi.

Internal validity was maintained by withholding the purpose of the study from the participants. They were not told what the purpose of the study is. They did not know that the change in their teaching methods was what was actually being studied. They were told that the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the whiteboard system. These strategies were designed to help to maintain the validity of their responses. External validity was maintained by reporting the results as a case study. No claims of generalization were made. It is perfectly clear that this study was done in isolation with a minimal study group of only two teachers. As I conducted this study, I also guarded against my own bias. As the technology integration specialist in the school I was hopeful that the teachers would adapt to and use the system effectively right away.

The Board of Education has chosen these two classrooms to pilot the use of the Promethean systems. The results of the study are expected to be presented to the Board of Education as one indication how the system is being used and how to improve the future practices of the Promethean systems in the school. This study is not designed to evaluate the performance of the students but to detect teachers' reactions and their teaching behaviors.

 

 

Results and Discussion

This case study examined two fourth grade math teachers and their teaching practices during their first nine weeks of instruction using the Promethean ACTIVBoard system. The results of this case study are divided into three main categories: participating teachers' initial reactions following their initial training on the Promethean whiteboard system, the changes in methodology for technology integration during their instruction with the whiteboard system, and examination of the teachers' LoTi level. The study sought to find the changes in teaching style and methodology employed as a result of the new tool the teachers have.

Reactions to Promethean ACTIVBoard

Prior to the first training session on the whiteboard system, the teachers were interviewed to discover what they already knew, or thought they knew about the whiteboard system and to determine their overall attitude toward the use of technology and specifically whiteboard technology for their teaching. See Appendix B.

Mrs. Jenkins is a first year teacher in her 20's. She attended Georgia College and State University where she earned her bachelor's degree in middle grades education with a concentration in mathematics. She logged over 1000 hours of student teaching experience at this school. Mrs. Jenkins described her teaching style as very hands-on and visual. As a result she was concerned that the system would take time away from the use of manipulatives. She said, “I just don't see how I can fit it all in.” She was looking forward to learning more about the ACTIVBoard and how to incorporate it in her teaching. She said “I'm just not sure what I'm supposed to do with it.” Her primary concerns were how and how often to incorporate the system into her mathematics classroom. She wondered if it should be a daily part of instruction or used to supplement instruction occasionally. She said “I'm just not sure how often I should use the system.” She was also concerned that if the whiteboard system was used daily that the students would become tired of it and as a result it would no longer hold their attention any better than other teaching tools. She stated “Kids become bored with things quickly if they are overused.”

Ms. Roper is new to this school. She, like Mrs. Jenkins is in her 20's and attended Georgia College and State University where she earned her bachelor's degree in middle grades education with a concentration in mathematics. Ms. Roper described her teaching style as more lecture based with differentiated instruction in small groups or with individuals. She said “I think it is important to work with students in small groups with the methods and tools that will best meet their individual needs. They won't all get it in whole group.” In the past she has used an overhead projector as her primary tool for delivering instruction and enjoyed using it. She said “I like to use an overhead so that I am always facing the kids.” She expressed concerns about how the system could be utilized in small group situations since her perception is that it would only be appropriate in whole group instruction. As she stated, “I don't see how to use the ACTIVBoard in anything but whole group activities.” When asked what her biggest concerns with integrating the Promethean whiteboard system were she said “I am not incompetent in the use of technology but I'm not a geek either. I wonder how hard the software will be to use. Will it be user friendly? I wonder if the training will answer my questions or if it will all go by in a blur.”

Following the whiteboard training the teachers were interviewed again to determine the changes in their perceptions as they have learned more about the tools and functions available in the ACTIVBoard system. The interview protocol has been included in Appendix C. Mrs. Jenkins reported that she actually became more confused with potential technology integration in her classroom following the training although the training did give her a better understanding of the system itself. She felt good about her understanding of the hardware and software involved and she was confident that she could create flip charts and use the tools with ease. She said “The tools seem pretty easy to use but I don't know what I'm supposed to do with the flip charts when I make them.” However she felt that she still didn't have a clear picture of how the tools could and should be incorporated into instruction. As she described, “I went into the training wanting to know how much time to spend using this and he didn't answer that question at all.” She did report that she could see that the new system would be a motivating tool so far as students were concerned. She could see that it would capture their attention easily. She said “I had better be doing this right because I am sure the kids will be watching everything. They are going to love this” and has realized that the system would capture their attention easily.

Ms. Roper did not seem to be bothered by any confusion. She felt that the training was very good and that the tools were going to be easy to use. She said “I can't wait to get back to my room and play with the program. There is so much there I can't wait to see what all I can find.” She was already able to envision specific tools she could utilize to teach specific concepts. She expressed her excitement about the new technology when she asked me “Did you know about the protractor and the graphs? This is going to be cool!”

The teachers' reactions to training fit in appropriately with the teaching styles that each teacher prefers. Mrs. Jenkins, who prefers a hands-on approach, remains concerned about the role that the system should play in her teaching. She was dissatisfied with her training because it didn't really explain when or in what manner to use it but rather the mechanics of how to use it. Ms. Roper, who prefers a teacher led teaching style, was very satisfied with her training because it just fit into her teaching style. She felt confidence in her ability to use the tools effectively.

Changes in Methodology

After the training the teachers were then given one month to become more acclimated to, and familiar with the tools they were using. Following this four week period they planned a unit of instruction and were each observed for two, one period lessons of this unit.

In Mrs. Jenkins first unit, a review of two digit times two digit multiplication, she used the system primarily as a chalkboard with students coming to the board to solve problems. A flip chart was utilized to present new information and then sample problems were presented for students to come to the board and solve. This approach was somewhat successful. The students were mostly engaged as they all wanted a turn at the board. Mrs. Jenkins would only call those students who were quiet and attentive to use the board. She would reinforce this by saying things such as “Cara is sitting quietly and listening. Cara, you may come to the board.” Learning to use the board and stand in such a way that they didn't block the projection on the screen was a little difficult for the students. They seemed to watch their peers more to determine how to use the board correctly than to determine how to solve the math problems correctly. One student even asked, “How did you do that?” When Mrs. Jenkins started explaining the problem the student said, “No, how did you cross that out?” By this they were asking for direction on the use of the board itself. They were not asking about the math concept being taught. Overall the lessons were successful as students were able to manipulate the board and complete the problems.

Mrs. Roper used the board more as a demonstration tool. She presented information about two digit times two digit multiplication using flip charts that she had prepared ahead of time. She had clearly put thought and effort into the flip charts. They were filled with eye catching features such as hidden answers, exciting colors, logical graphics, and imbedded quiz questions. The students were very engaged and she had little need to redirect the attention of the students. When redirection was required it was achieved quickly and easily. At one point the students were so excited that they were calling out the answers and not waiting to be called on. All Ms. Roper did was click the minimize button and sit there quietly. The kids immediately settled down. It was clear that they understood that if they wanted her to use the system they had to do their part and pay attention.

The way that the teachers chose to use the system fit their teaching styles. Mrs. Jenkins had students manipulating the board themselves while Ms. Roper stayed in the driver's seat and used it as a demonstration tool. Both teachers' lessons appeared to be successful as the students were on task and engaged in learning. Mrs. Jenkins approach gave students more of an opportunity to physically engage in the lessons although having students come to the board was time consuming. Ms. Roper's lessons were able to incorporate more than twice as many sample problems and therefore present more information in the given time.

After their initial practice with the new whiteboard, Mrs. Jenkins and Ms. Roper chose to collaborate and share their experiences from the first unit and plan the next unit together. They were each observed teaching two lessons from this second unit. There were significant changes in the ways that they chose to use the system. They found a way to blend their teaching styles into an approach that combined, what they believed to be, the best practices from each teacher. They chose to abandon the practice of having students come to the board themselves and replaced it with the use of ACTIVotes. They chose to continue with Ms. Roper's approach of creating highly engaging flip charts to present new information. The teachers both used the same flip charts for each lesson. At the end of each lesson they incorporated more of Mrs. Jenkins' style by including an interactive quiz. The students used the ACTIVote system to individually answer questions provided on the flip chart electronically. The responses were anonymous but it gave the teacher an opportunity to provide immediate feedback on each question. In addition the teachers were then able to use the data from the student responses to create small groups and immediately provide additional instruction for the students who were still struggling. Some students were given additional practice using paper and pencil; some were directed to computers in the room and given specific practice programs to work in, and some students worked with the teacher using manipulatives.

Mrs. Jenkins and Ms. Roper both indicated that their confidence was growing in terms of use of the system after the collaborative planning on the unit. Mrs. Jenkins said, “It is feeling more natural. (to use the system)” Ms. Roper said “I am ready to start planning the next unit. The more I use it the more ways I can see to use it.”

LoTi Level

Using the LoTi scale to evaluate teachers' technology integration level did not demonstrate any significant changes. Prior to use of the ACTIVBoard both of the teachers were at a LoTi level of 2 which is defined as “The electronic technology is employed either as extension to activities or as enrichment exercises to the instructional program. Technology-based tools serve as a supplement to existing instructional program (e.g., tutorials, educational games, simulations).” Following the second unit of instruction the same LoTi level is observed. The tools were used as presentation tools and to supplement instruction. The teachers didn't use technology in a new way that would lead to the development of higher order thinking skills such as analyzing or synthesizing information. They simply used it to replace older technologies. For instance, the presentation was done on the white board rather than on an overhead projector and the quiz was done with ACTIVotes rather than on paper with pencil. To move to higher LoTi level the technology would have to be used by the students to increase their higher order thinking skills. For example, the students would need to use technology to find new information, create presentations, or complete projects. None of these things occurred in the observations of Mrs. Jenkins' or Ms. Roper's lessons.

Summary

Both Mrs. Jenkins, and Ms. Roper, demonstrated an immediate comfort level with using the tools available in the Promethean ACTIVBoard system. Mrs. Jenkins was not as comfortable with her understanding of how best to implement those tools and Ms. Roper was. After a first attempt and reflection they chose to collaborate on their second unit. As a result of this collaboration they both made changes to their methodology of implementing the Promethean system. The successful collaboration, and resulting unit, left them both wanting an opportunity to learn even better ways to implement their whiteboard system. The level of technology integration has been unchanged throughout the study, however, the desire of the teachers to do more seem to imply that the possibility of achieving a more desirable LoTi level still exists.

 

Conclusions

The reactions the teachers had to their training seem to fit the teaching styles that they reported that they preferred. Mrs. Jenkins, who prefers a hands-on approach, was still very unsure as to how she could utilize this new tool since the Promethean ACTIVBoard system is not necessarily a hands-on tool. However, Ms. Roper, who relied primarily on an overhead projector to deliver instruction, could immediately see ways to incorporate it. Overhead projectors and ACTIVBoards both utilize teacher driven demonstration and instruction on a screen of some sort. It was a more natural fit for the way she is accustomed to teaching. Therefore, teachers' reactions to their training were in line with their preferred teaching styles.

It was interesting that after planning and implementing one unit of instruction individually, the teachers chose to come together and collaborate on the second one. They both felt that what they did in the first unit was successful but also felt that there was more that they could do. With the experience of training, experimenting, and collaborating on the use of the Promethean ACTIVBoard system the teachers did make changes to their delivery of instruction. They chose to incorporate the use of instant feedback through the use of ACTIVotes and to plan further instruction for the needs of every student including those who understood the lesson as well as those who did not.

The practice on the new system made them realize that on their own they didn't have all the answers but that together they had more of them. Teaching can be a very lonely profession in which each teacher does their own thing behind their own closed door. However, the realization that they could learn from each other and the desire to collaborate is an indication of their determination to do a better job of teaching.

Let's look at Mrs. Jenkins first. Mrs. Jenkins chose to abandon her student centered approach from the first unit and went to a lecture driven plan in the second unit. In the first unit she attempted to use the system for the entire class period. In the second unit she chose to use it for the first half of the class and then to incorporate individualized instruction for the remainder of the class. This change was facilitated by the use of ACTIVote quizzes which let her know which students needed further instruction. Her teaching style of using a hands-on approach was improved by being able to select the students who would benefit most from this approach. Using manipulatives with a whole class can be very chaotic when not all students need manipulatives to understand the concepts. In this case, moving from a student centered approach to a lecture driven approach streamlined the instruction. Time was used more effectively by being able to identify those students who needed the student centered activities to be successful and not slowing down the students who were ready to move on. Ms. Roper was able to adapt her preferred style of individualized instruction to the whiteboard system. In her first unit she used it almost exclusively as a lecture tool. In her second unit she was able to incorporate the ACTIVote system to gain feedback and allow her to individualize instruction. She did not use the system to provide the individualized instruction but rather as a tool to determine assignment of students to small groups. As with Mrs. Jenkins, this allowed her to identify the needs of the students and provide them with the instruction they needed. Mrs. Jenkins and Ms. Roper arrived at the decisions to alter their methods together. They did not adopt one approach already used by either of them. Instead they blended their methods into a new approach.

Although the LoTi level of instruction did not change during the study period, significant changes in teaching did occur. The teachers were able to discover on their own ways to use their new Promethean ACTIVBoards to engage their students and give them valuable feedback so that instruction could be differentiated. They found that having the students manipulate the boards was effective but too time consuming to use often in classrooms. In addition they discovered that the ActivVote system was an excellent way to gain immediate feedback on student understanding as well as keeping the students engaged and active. The teachers also reached the conclusion that the ACTIVBoards were just one tool at their disposal. There is still a need for manipulatives, paper and pencil, and other technology applications. ACTIVBoards are not the whole answer for effective instruction but they are a highly efficient part of the answer and their teaching did change as a result of their availability. One of the most significant changes the new technology system brought about was the decision on the teachers' part to collaborate. Mrs. Jenkins said, “I know I could be a better teacher if I knew more ways to use this effectively.” They both realized that there was more that they could be doing and that they would need to reach out to other sources to discover those things. Their first attempt to reach out was to go to each other. Ms. Roper said, “I don't want any more training by some expert on the software. I want to spend time with other teachers who have been using the system for a while.” She demonstrated the understanding that it isn't the tool that is important but the integration that matters.

It has been claimed that the Promethean system is highly motivating for students. In this study, it was equally motivating to the teachers involved as well. They both expressed their desire to continue to improve their instruction as a result of the tools that are available to them. While neither teacher demonstrated a pedagogy change, they sought to improve their instruction and pledge that they will continue to do so. Ms. Roper said, “The possibilities are limitless but I have to be the one to discover them.” Ms. Jenkins added, “I feel like my kids and I have been given a gift but now we have to unwrap it.” This implies that the next phase of training should be on more practical and pedagogical application of the system rather than on the tools themselves. The teachers are motivated to integrate the technology more effectively but simply don't know how in their classrooms.

One limitation of the study was the short period of time that it covered. In order to determine the effect the Promethean ACTIVBoard system has on teaching strategies and styles a longer period of investigation is needed. A nine week study did not give the teachers sufficient time to be fully comfortable with the system. In addition, if the desired effect were a change in pedagogy or LoTi level the teacher training on the whiteboard should also include these topics on pedagogical applications. Having the tools has inspired these two teachers to seek more effective strategies for using them. It would be a natural next step to provide them with training on effective teaching strategies and technology integration to see how their teaching would change further.

The Board of Education needs to determine if the effectiveness of the Promethean system is worthy of a further investment of funds. This study has demonstrated that the system did inspire teachers to search for more effective ways to teach their students. Both teachers made individual attempts initially but ultimately sought more ideas by collaborating with each other. They also expressed a desire for more training so that they could use the system to its fullest potential. The Board will need additional data regarding learning outcomes from a future study in order to determine if this improved teaching has led to improved learning. This study did not involve the learning behaviors of the students in any way. The learning outcomes must also be studied before the board can make a fully informed decision in regard to additional systems for the school. The most logical next step would be to invest in further training for the teachers and to study learning outcomes. Only then will the Board know the full potential of the system.

 

 

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Appendix A

 

Teacher standing alongside an ACTIV board

 

 

The Promethean ACTIVBoard is a 78” electromagnetic whiteboard with interactive capability. Objects can be manipulated on the board itself or from the computer that is connected to it. The accompanying software provides graphics and graphic tools that allow teachers to prepare demonstrations called flip charts in advance.


Appendix B

 

Pre-Training Questions

  1. What is your preferred style of teaching?
  2. What has led you to adopt this style?
  3. What are the drawbacks or disadvantages of this style?
  4. How do you compensate for these weaknesses?
  5. Have you ever used whiteboard technology of any kind in the past?
  6. What do you think will be most useful about the Promethean system?
  7. What do you hope to be able to do with it?
  8. What concerns do you have in regards to the system?

Appendix C

 

Post-Training Questions

  1. Now that you know a little more about the system, how do you feel about incorporating it into your teaching?
  2. What do you think will work the best?
  3. What concerns do you have?
  4. Are you satisfied with your training experience?
  5. How could your training be improved?