Every Thursday morning we have a faculty meeting where our Head Teacher reports on the minutes from the executive meeting held the previous day. To be completely honest with you, I only ever half-listen to the minutes being read out with my attention being grabbed only by that which is made salient by my personal interest – technology. Today I was in luck – as technology made a brief personal appearance on the minutes.
A HT from another department was concerned that too many different types of data projectors (IWBs, portable projectors, some kind of cheaper, pseudo IWB) were being bought … he suggested we have some consistency. My HT reminded us that he had budgeted for one of the cheaper, pseudo IWBs to be fitted into a colleague’s room (she already has a ceiling mounted projector – supposedly this ‘extension’ makes it interactive?) and had a little bit of money left over to buy another type of data projector. He indicated that there is something available that has a tablet with it and is meant to be quite good.
So … my contribution to the discussion? Can’t you get a tablet for around $70 that hooks up to your netbook? You could use it with the portable projector from the library. Yeah – thrilling contribution. My whole way of thinking about IWBs et al has altered dramatically since the beginning of the year. I don’t think we need to be investing so much money in them. I really don’t. (Insert Holden voice here).
I can see the benefit of them for watching movies … for student presentations at the end of projects and the occasional teacher presentation but really, do you need to ‘present’ every lesson? Do you need to have your students strapped to their chairs and facing the front like prisoners in Guantanamo Bay whilst you ‘perform’ in front of them? I just haven’t felt the need for that in 4/5 of my classes. (The fifth is the ‘HSC class’ … no avoiding content swallowing there … OK, there is, but I’m still finding my feet in that area.)
IWBs just reinforce the traditional teacher-centric model of education that so many educators now realise is ineffective for the 21st century. Money is being thrown willingly to satiate the voracious appetites of supposed ‘educational technology’ suppliers in order to tick the trendy ‘technology school’ box.
If I was in charge, I’d look at how money could be used to transform our school space from 19th century school house to 21st century learning environment. Oh well … lucky I’m not in charge anyway – you should see the state of my desktop!