Interactive Whiteboards in Australia

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10 tips for getting started with an interactive whiteboard

Posted by rosiemacalpine on December 17, 2008

Getting an interactive whiteboard in your classroom can be exciting, thrilling, daunting, challenging, frightening or overwhelming (or all of the above!) Here are ten tips for a teacher with a new board.
 
1. Get support from others.
If you’ve got several boards in your school, make a point of meeting with the other board users regularly (even 30 minutes a fortnight will make a huge difference to enthusiasm and confidence). Ask your reseller if there are other users in your area that you can network with. If you are the only person in the school with a board, invite the principal, deputy or P&C members into your classroom regularly to show them what your class is doing with the board. You are more likely to get support if people can see the great things that you can achieve.
If your board has an online website or forum, join and have a browse around the boards. Promethean users can join Promethean Planet for help, support and sharing of ideas. Especially if you are the only person in your school with a board, this can be a great place to feel that you aren’t going it alone.
 
2. Start with websites or existing software.

Try searching Google or Delicious for IWB activities. Three good sites for Primary teachers are  BBC Schools, Ambleside Primary and Crickweb. There are lots of great educational activities on the web that work really well on the interactive whiteboard. Using a familiar website or piece of software can let you build confidence with navigating around your board.
 
3. Be realistic about your goals.
If you have lots of spare time and are a confident computer user, you will progress very quickly with your IWB. If not, then it will take a little longer. Set realistic goals. When I first got my board, I aimed to use it once a day, even if it was just writing notes or showing a website. If this is too much for you, then try three times a week instead. As your skills build, you will be able to use your board more and more.
 
4. Involve your students.
They will be excited about this technology in the classroom and will want to get started. If you have secondary students, ask them for examples of good websites for your subject. They may be more experienced at searching the net than you! Primary teachers can start with a session where everyone writes their name on the board. Then you can discuss what you have learned e.g. hold to hold the pen, how to double-click. 
 
5. Have a back up.
Keep a couple of lesson packs (worksheets and resources) that you can use if you can’t get the board working. It’s unusual for things to go wrong, but you’ll feel more confident about trying things if you have an alternative activity on standby.
 
6. Play with the software and try things out.
If you are an experienced computer user, then you will probably feel confident with clicking on random buttons. If this terrifies you, then go slowly. Don’t make changes in preferences or options, save your work regularly, and learn to use the undo button! But having some ‘sandpit time’ to play and explore is a great way of building your confidence.
 
7. Get professional development.
Ask your reseller for details of face to face training, if it is available. It’s the quickest way of becoming a proficient user. If you can’t get to face to face training, then look for online training.Promethean users have access to the excellent Promethean Learning website with a free introductory course to get started. Atomic Learning also have extensive IWB training modules.
 
8. Practice with the hardware before you get in front of the class.
Have technical support or another board user on standby if possible. Practice plugging your board in, turning the projector on and off, and starting the software on your computer. Then you will feel confident about doing this when your class is waiting.
 
9. Be kind to yourself and let go of perfectionism.
When you meet other users, their proficiency can be both inspiring and depressing. Remember, everyone had to start somewhere! Always remember – how important is it? Your class is unlikely to care if your border is the wrong colour – they just want to have a go with the software. Ideally, IWBs are most effective when students can use the software interactively. But don’t feel guilty if you want to start by using existing resources, like PowerPoint, until your confidence improves.
 
10. Be prepared to devote some time to it.

An interactive whiteboard will make your teaching easier and cut down on preparation time. But this won’t happen immediately. If you put some time into learning how to use your board, using the suggestions above, you’ll find that invested time pays off very quickly. You’ll soon wonder how you ever managed without it!

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