The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board has been purchasing interactive white boards (commonly called SMARTboards) and training staff in their classroom use since 2006.

Due to recent provincial allocations, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board has accelerated the process of installing interactive white boards in all of their 36 elementary and secondary schools. By the end of the provincial measure, 475 Interactive white boards will have been mounted in nearly every SWLSB class and close to 1,000 teachers will have been trained in their use.

What is an interactive white board?

Very large, custom-made interactive white boards are extensively used by news networks like CNN to animate such things as troop movements and weather patterns.

In education, an interactive white board resembles a classroom whiteboard connected to a projector which, in turn, is connected to a computer. It sounds simple enough, so why have the British and Australian governments committed to place an interactive white board in every class, as well many Canadian and American educational jurisdictions?

It’s because of the touch. Under every interactive white board’s exterior, an array of sensors waits to respond to every pressure and movement, making the board truly interactive.

According to Amanda Murdoch, a former teacher at Arundel Elementary School and current Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board consultant, an interactive white board in class “is highly engaging and really makes a difference – everyone’s looking; everyone’s listening; everyone’s on task.”

Pedagogical experts maintain that a child’s learning is not limited to the written word. We all learn in many ways, using our sight, hearing and touch. Interactive white boards allow children to learn in ways which suits them best.

“As teachers, we’re always trying to address the different learning styles of our classrooms – auditory learners, visual learners and kinesthetic learners.” continued Ms. Murdoch. “The interactive white board is an excellent tool because it connects to all learners at once. Everyone wants to participate. No one can really hide from the interactive white board. They’re really involved in the learning process.”

Stephanie Abbate, a St. Jude Elementary School teacher, agreed. “Not only are my lessons more authentic with the interactive white board but I think they’re more meaningful. I’m able to come up with more creative lessons… so much better. It [the in-class Interactive white board] supports my lessons, supports my teaching and, therefore, makes learning so much more meaningful.”

Eventually, interactive white boards may even lower expenses in other areas.

Kristen Sarrazin-Lalonde, a teacher at Grenville Elementary School, alluded to this when commenting on the technological innovation.

“I find the interactive white boards is excellent in helping me to teach, especially the younger primary grades. They are a generation used to video games and interactive [experiences] - being able to use an interactive white board appeals to them. It allows them to work interactively with what they’re trying to learn. An interactive white board is the best manipulative you can find in a classroom.”

Educational leaders stress that teaching and content must always direct the ways technological devices are used in the classroom; however, classrooms must also reflect their society. Students relate to technology; be it cell phones, tablets, laptops… and interactive white boards.

The inclusion of such devices can make students better learners and better citizens of the 21st Century.