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Interactive Whiteboards

Jennifer Foley, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Definitions and background

An interactive whiteboard is a board that has a touch-sensitive screen (Hur & Suh, 2012) which is connected to a personal computer and a projector (Baran, 2010). Interactive whiteboards can become a part of any classroom; they can be mounted to the wall permanently or can be purchased on a rolling stand which can then be used by a number of classrooms (Doe, 2010). There are various types of interactive whiteboards available from many different companies including SmartBoards, Promethean Boards, Team Boards and Webster Boards and are increasingly popular in classrooms (Northcote, Mildenhall, Marshall & Swan, 2010). Interactive whiteboards are technological tools that are now being used in many countries around the world (Jang, & Tsai, 2012). Global sales of interactive whiteboards for use in classrooms have increased from 257,261 in 2005 to 1,029,280 in 2010 (Maher, Phelps, Urane & Lee, 2012). Interactive whiteboards have many features which make them appropriate for classrooms including the regular features of a traditional whiteboard, the ability to visually display images to large groups as well as any capabilities of the computer that it is connected to (Maher, Phelps, Urane & Lee, 2012).


There are many benefits of interactive whiteboards for teaching and learning (Hur & Suh, 2012) as even the most basic features have a positive effect on student learning (Türel & Johnson, 2012). Interactive whiteboards can encourage social interactions between students through hands-on tasks (Northcote, Mildenhall, Marshall & Swan, 2010), incorporating various multimedias, (Slay, Siebörger & Hodgkinson-Williams, 2008), collaborative projects (Alshawareb & Abu Jaber, 2012) and the encouragement of critical thinking while completing group activities (Branzburg, 2006). Interactive whiteboards force students to be active participators in their learning and not passive listeners (Mott, Sumrall, Rutherford, Sumrall & Vails, 2010).

Interactive whiteboards can help students with disabilities by promoting the development of gross and fine motor skills and social skills including group work and turn taking (Allsopp, Colucci, Doone, Perez, Bryant & Holhfeld, 2012). Students with visual impairments benefit through the large screen which improves visibility of content (Slay, Siebörger & Hodgkinson-Williams, 2008) as well as the capability to use large fonts and bright colours (Branzburg, 2006). Various animations can be displayed to classes which make stories come to life, provide “relevance and authenticity” (pg. 247) and encourage students to engage with the story (Maher, 2011). Students are motivated because interactive whiteboards can keep their attention and allow them to focus (Wall, Higgins, & Smith, 2005). The basic capabilities of interactive whiteboards allow for an activity to be demonstrated on the screen while students with cognitive disabilities can follow along on similar worksheets (Mounce, 2010).

Interactive whiteboards can facilitate deeper whole-group teacher and student discussion (Mercer, Hennessy & Warwick, 2010). They enable teachers and students to interact with content and resources available on the computer (Murcia & Sheffield, 2012). Interactive whiteboards also allow teachers to explain complex and abstract concepts (Jang & Tsai, 2012) and give them the flexibility to face students while teaching (Doe, 2010). They allow teachers to better demonstrate material and reveal students’ developmental progress through increased student engagement and feedback (Liang, Huang & Tsai, 2012). Furthermore, interactive whiteboards are an integral component of ‘connected classrooms’ which allow for teaching to occur conference style across a long distance (Mitchell, Hunter & Mocker, 2010). Rural schools are now capable of expanding curriculum opportunities to their students through the use of interactive whiteboards and distance education (Mitchell, Hunter, & Mocker, 2010).


One of the major constraints associated with the use of interactive whiteboards is the lack of consistent and adequate training for teachers (Mathews-Aydinli & Elaziz, 2010). Technologies are often introduced into education without adequate training for teachers (Murcia & Sheffield, 2012). Teachers are excited about the new technology and using it in their classroom but they are not provided with the support they need to make the best use of the interactive whiteboard in their classroom (Mathews-Aydinli & Elaziz, 2010). Many teachers are simply adding an interactive whiteboard into their classroom on top of current routines and pedagogies which can then reinforce teacher-centered instruction (DiGregorio & Sobel-Lojeski, 2010). In a study of 174 teacher-pareticipants, Türel & Johnson found that many continue to dominate lessons and do not invite students to interact with the board due to a lack of understanding of the benefits of the boards’ interactivity (2012). Teachers’ level of understanding of interactive whiteboards is relatively good considering the lack of consistent training, however much more training is needed so that teachers can meet the expectations of the policy makers and the public (Kennewell & Beauchamp, 2007).

Teachers and students find the variety of technical problems and technical reliability of the interactive whiteboards to be another significant constraint (Slay, Siebörger & Hodgkinson-Williams, 2008). Primary students describe some interactions with the board as “frustrating” when there are technical difficulties with the board or the associated equipment (Wall, Higgins & Smith, 2005). Technical problems create frustrations among students and teachers but may also cause disruption and delays in the execution of a lesson (DiGregorio & Sobel-Lojeski, 2010). Interactive whiteboards require regular calibration and experience minor technical problems (Baran, 2010). Depending on technical problems, lessons or activities may take longer using interactive whiteboards compared to regular boards (Baran, 2010). Technical problems can also arise due to the level of teachers’ knowledge of the computer, projector or interactive whiteboard (Baran, 2010).

The cost affiliated with interactive whiteboards may also be considered a constraint (Slay, Siebörger & Hodgkinson-Williams, 2008). To be equipped, schools need to purchase computers, projectors and boards as well as provide training for teachers (Slay et al., 2008). Large amounts of school budgets are being used to purchase and install this technology (Northcote, Mildenhall, Marshall & Swan, 2010) which, for some schools, would create a fiscal burden (Baran, 2010).


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Works Cited

Allsopp, D. H., Colucci, K., Doone, E., Perez, L., Bryant, E., & Holhfeld, T. N. (2012). Interactive whiteboard technology for students with disabilities: A year long exploratory study. Journal of Special Education Technology, 27 (4).

Alshawareb, A., & Abu Jaber, M. (2012). Teachers’ attitudes toward using interactive whiteboards in the teaching and learning process in Jordan. International Journal of Instructional Media, Vol.39(4).

Baran, B. (2010). Experiences from the process of designing lessons with interactive whiteboard: ASSURE as a road map. Contemporary Educational Technology,1(4), 367-380.

Branzburg, J. (2006). Use an Interactive Whiteboard. Technology & Learning, 26(6), 31.

DiGregorio, P. & Sobel-Lojeski, K. (2010). The effects of interactive whiteboards on student performance and learning. Journal of Educational Technology Systems,38(3), 255-312.

Doe, C. (2010). Interactive Whiteboards. Multimedia & Internet@Schools, 17(1), 30-34.

Hur, J. W., & Suh, S. (2012). Making learning active with interactive whiteboards, podcasts, and digital storytelling in ELL classrooms. Computers in the Schools, 29 (4), 320-338.

Jang, S. J., & Tsai, M. F. (2012). Reasons for using or not using interactive whiteboards: Perspective of Taiwanese elementary mathematics and science teachers. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(8), 1451-1465.

Kennewell, S. & Beauchamp, G. (2007). The features of interactive whiteboards and their influence on learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 32(3), 227-241.

Liang, T.-H., Huang, Y.-M., & Tsai, C.-C. (2012). An investigation of teaching and learning interaction factors for the use of the interactive whiteboard technology. Educational Technology & Society, 15(4), 356-367.

Maher, D. (2011). Using the multimodal affordances of the interactive whiteboard to support students’ understanding of texts. Learning, Media and Technology. 36(3).

Maher, D., Phelps, R., Urane, N., & Lee, M. (2012). Primary school teachers’ use of digital resources with interactive whiteboards: The Australian context. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(1), 138-158.

Mathews-Aydinli, J., & Elaziz, F. (2010). Turkish students’ and teachers’ attitudes toward the use of interactive whiteboards in EFL classrooms. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 23(3), 235-252.

Mercer, N., Hennessy, S., & Warwick, P. (2010). Using interactive whiteboards to orchestrate classroom dialogue. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 19(2), 195-209.

Mitchell, J., Hunter, J., & Mocker, N. (2010) Connecting classrooms in rural communities through interactive whiteboards. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 2010, 26, 464-476.

Mott, M. S., Sumrall, W. J., Rutherford, A. S., Sumrall, K., & Vails, T. (2010). “Lecture” with interaction in an adult science methods course-session: Designing interactive whiteboard and response system experiences. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 11(4).

Mounce, A. B. (2010) Teaching content with interactive whiteboards. Journal of Special Education Technology, 23(1)

Murcia, K., & Sheffield, R. (2012). Talking about science in interactive whiteboard classrooms. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(4), 417-431.

Northcote, M., Mildenhall, P., Marshall, L., & Swan, P. (2010). Interactive whiteboards: Interactive of just whiteboards? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(Special Issue, 4), 494-510.

Slay, H., Siebörger, I., & Hodgkinson-Williams, C. (2008) Interactive whiteboards: Real beauty of just “lipstick”? Computers & Education, 51, 1321-1341.

Türel, Y. K., & Johnson, T. E. (2012). Teachers' belief and use of interactive whiteboards for teaching and learning. Educational Technology & Society, 15 (1), 381-394.

Wall, K., Higgins, S., & Smith, H. (2005). The visual helps me understand the complicated things: Pupil views of teaching and learning with interactive whiteboards. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(5), 851-867.