Orchestration with the interactive whiteboard: provisionality and permanence

Twiner, Alison; Gillen, Julia; Kleine Staarman, Judith; Littleton, Karen and Mercer, Neil (2007). Orchestration with the interactive whiteboard: provisionality and permanence. In: ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association of Learning Technologies Conference, 4-6 Sep 2007, Nottingham, UK.

URL: http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2007/timetable/abstract.p...


The Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) is the first Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tool primarily well-designed for whole-class interaction. It is now in regular use in most British primary schools. As with the introduction of other technological tools into the classroom, strong claims have been made that the IWB will have a revolutionary effect on pedagogy. We problematise these claims through taking a sociocultural approach to teachers' use of the IWB, viewing it as a relatively new tool within their existing and evolving teaching practices. Research, including our own, has already revealed that the IWB can aid teachers in planning and orchestrating lessons using a wide range of multimodal resources.

In this paper we explore specifically how the teacher's management of the IWB can support both a constant and a changing resource, as a reminder or provider of information, whilst also being the backdrop for the cumulative, co-operative development of understanding. Our UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project has focussed on use of the IWB within four classes of children aged 7-11 years, at the upper end of primary education. Each class was video recorded during two sequences of two lessons, providing 16 lessons overall. Teachers were also interviewed to discover how they account for their use of IWBs within their teaching and learning.

Within our observations, the IWB enabled the teacher to create clear but provisional structure, as well as providing the opportunity to modify representations in a number of ways. Different tools, those created by the teacher and those within the IWB functionalities, were utilised to support gradual revealing of information or instruction. These were felt to offset pupil overload of information, allowed for discussion of developing understanding, and enabled teachers to control the pace of the lesson more easily. Teachers also made use of commercial software and scanned photographs and images, which pupils annotated during lessons in the creation of key points or recognition and use of key terms.

Instances of use explored in this paper demonstrate how the IWB can be applied by competent teachers as a tool to structure and adapt their learning material to the immediate and future needs of their class, within the context of overall lesson objectives. Our conclusions are that successful use of the IWB may be characterised as a skilful balance between its use as a facilitator of a pre-structured, well-resourced lesson format with the flexibility of affording more improvisational and spontaneous teaching.

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