Innovating the Way We Teach – IWBs

Escrito por: Roni Medrano, Nataly Ávalos y Carlos Sánchez, docentes de inglés del Centro ¡Supérate! Hilasal

Technology and its advances certainly influence all sciences, fields, and careers humans practice. Education cannot be outside this range. More importantly, our field, English Language Teaching, has certainly experienced quite a few changes in terms of materials and settings inside the classroom. As teachers, we should always look for different ways to enhance the experience of students inside the classroom, providing them with interesting and significant lessons that will keep them motivated to continue learning. In order to accomplish this goal, we are meant to be pioneers in search of this technological development that’s changing the way teachers teach worldwide.

In this first entry of Technology Applied in My Center series, we would like to talk in detail about a device that will transform the way we teach. When you think about a teacher, the first thing that comes to mind is a board. And for more than a century, the board has been part of this whole process of teaching. It doesn’t matter if it is chalk over a blackboard, or marker over a whiteboard, the board has evolved along with education. Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) is just the recent update the board has had. This new device allows any whiteboard to become an interactive screen where students and teachers can access the whole World Wide Web or open any document we might have in our computers, optimizing the time we have in the classroom and making our lessons more attractive and dynamic for students. IWBs redefine the concept of just projecting something on a screen, to a real vivid experience, increasing participation, interaction and discussion levels which accommodate to different learning styles and abilities students in our class might have.

A board in the classroom is the real example of a continuum – an element that’s here to stay under the same principle. IWBs came to innovate the old way we use the board and what makes it innovative is the way we can craft our class, so our struggle to find suitable activities that fit to every student’s learning style is reduced in time and effort under the following principles: easy manipulation of a wide variety of media types, effortless ability to move these media types around globally, and the ability to interact with these media types on a wide range of devices (tablets, phones, PDAs, etc.)

Moreover, it is not surprising that these new devices and ways to teach “clash” with the traditional methods and approaches that indeed represent a landmark in the ELT (English Language Teaching) field. A point to consider in order to start including technology in our lessons is that our students, opposite to us, have been born to a world where ‘digital’ and ‘online’ are life mottos. Teenagers entering our schools now do not know what it is like to not be digital, and while many of the things that seem like black magic to those of us who have been around for a while, to our students they are just an expected part of the way the world works.

Now that we know a little about IWBs, we have the chance to include it in our lessons. The first step on this is to know the basic functions of the IWBs (original and third-party software, calibration process, drag and drop actions, etc.) then, introduce the usage of the board in a class as a simple activity, not as an exercise for the lesson. With this, students are going to be intrigued to the things to come and the new tool we as teachers will include in our lessons later. So, planning the implementation of new technologies in our class will help us to reach the objectives we set, providing us with a coherent framework for smooth and effective high-tech teaching.  Something that is really important to highlight is that the IWBs use should be included to reinforce what students are learning on the textbook, and not as a time filler tool just to play.

Definitely, whenever something new shows up on our path, there is a sense of neglect to it, and we cannot set a firm starting point. The following list can give you an idea on the very basics of IWBs, and even give you a sort of initiation training where you will discover a vast universe of possibilities your students will love, so will you.

  • http://www.mimio.com/es-LA/Training/QuickLearn-Overview.aspx: since most of our centers have been provided with this specific brand (Mimio), here’s the official online training center. Most of the videos are quite short, but highly effective, and they will walk you step by step on how to install the Mimio Teach Bar on the board, to how to use the software that comes along with it.
  • http://www.mimioconnect.com/: join the largest educational community that, just like you, implements Mimio Teach in their classes. Here you will find a large variety of pre-made files that can perfectly be used over and over again in your classes. And if you think the material you design is wonderfully useful, share it here.
  • http://equizshow.com/: students love games where there is a certain level of competition. Create a jeopardy duel from scratch, where you can easily include categories and vocabulary you are currently reviewing with your class.
  •  http://interactivesites.weebly.com/: insterested on showing really animated and living content? Drop by here and pick up one from a large list  that you think your students will find interesting.

Just remember, it is important to consider the quality of technology we use in the class, but it is even more important to consider the quality of class we teach.