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EdTech Update




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"And" not "or" redux

Several bloggers have pointed to this picture and commentary on Wes Fryer's blog:

This should be subtitled, “A great way to waste your school district’s financial investments in technology and the cause of 21st century skills.” Can you think of other appropriate taglines?

I have tremendous respect for Wes, but this is myopic thinking. Can't drills and games - even quizzes - be interactive, engaging, and involving whether used with an IWB or not? I certainly remember them being fun when I was a student. A steady diet of them? No, probably not. But every teacher needs an assortment of tools in their instructional tool belt.

This is a great example of the need to get past the "or" mentality in thinking about educational technology. It's not "Do we use technology for constructivist activities? or "Do we use technology for teacher-led activities and presentations?"

The answer is yes.

Kid and teachers alike were having fun and learning playing Bus Safety Bingo when I was visiting one of our elementary building last week. A waste of education resources? Not in my book.

Wesley! Lighten up on those of us who like lots of kinds of learning activities.

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks fo the comment, Doug! I have no beef with your perspective. I like what you said about it being basically a false dichotomy. In my own ham-handed way I was kind of trying to make the same point about the technology in general. I don't see that it has to be an either/or proposition, well, either. I'm sure that Bus Safety Bingo game rocked. I'm glad to see it being used in a fun and stimulating way. I myself had a class using the SMART Board with a ReadWriteThink "magnetic poetry" lesson they had a ball with. I just question the idea of buying them for everyone whether they want it or not. Like you said, people do these kinds of lessons whether they have the IWB or not. They certainly are COOLER with them than without them, but I'm not sure they're for everyone.

What about your district, Doug? Are there IWBs in every class or just a number in each school or what?

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterteacherninja

I appreciate your pushback on this Doug. I will readily admit some of my more recent thinking on IWB's has been colored by some pretty extremist views on them. I do agree that games can be enthralling and even engaging for students depending on how they're used. I guess I'm seeing IWB's used in many cases in ways that only support teacher-directed instruction, and that sort of use isn't where I personally think the uses of IWB's should stop. This photograph and encouragement can support that sort of limited view of the utility of IWBs.

I've taught workshops and shared presentations previously which are focused on how to use IWB's to engage and enthrall students. I do see both sides of this discussion. I've felt a bit burned, perhaps, by some recent blog comments (not by you, by others) where I've been painted (or at least felt I've been painted) as a traitor to the cause of learner-centered education by suggesting that IWB's can be used effectively to support instruction.

As with many situations a balanced view on IWB's is more appropriate than an extremist perspective, I think. To suggest this to some people, or to recognize simultaneously the potential value of IWB's while also pointing out that they should not be used exclusively to support teacher-directed instruction can be viewed as hypocritical and self-contradictory.

I'm teaching a 5th grade Sunday school class this year and am getting to use an IWB each week. I plan to use some interactive games on it to get students involved actively in what we are learning. You're right, kids often love games like this. Interactive games on a whiteboard may be used in ways which get students more involved in a lesson activity than they might be traditionally just sitting at their desks.

I'm not sure if my comments and train of thought here is helpful or not. I do see your point, and admit that my comment on this photo is extremist. That view does not reflect the complete spectrum of my opinions about IWBs.

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWesley Fryer

@ Hi Jim,

Thanks for the comment. The response to your final question, I think, calls for a separate blog entry!

Enjoying your blog. Keep writing!


@ Hi Wes,

This was a longer and more thoughtful response than I probably deserved. Thanks.

One of the ironies of taking a stand in the "rational center" on any controversial issue is that the centerist doubles his critics - the nut jobs on both extremes.

Thanks again for the reply. I am sure the debate about IWBs will continue. I do wish it would move from being pro or con the device itself to pro or con how the device is being used.

All the best,


September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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