I am often asked the question, “How effective are interactive teaching technologies in the classroom?” More often than not, this question refers to interactive whiteboards in particular. While there are numerous studies available that may or may not provide an answer to this question, depending on your point of view, I tend to think and answer this question a little differently than most.
Simply put, interactive teaching technologies, such as interactive whiteboards, are tools. I am in no way downplaying their ability to improve teaching and learning in the classroom by saying this. These are great tools. However, an interactive whiteboard does not create a great teacher; no more so than a new hammer would make someone a great carpenter. But, when used properly and with the right plans, a hammer is an essential and important tool for building things. The same is true for classrooms. This is exactly why training and effective instructional content are absolutely essential to maximize the potential of interactive teaching technologies in the classroom.
Research-Based, User-Tested Instructional Content
For today I want to talk about instructional content in particular. While there is a plethora of content available for interactive whiteboards, both free and paid, not all of it can be considered effective. This is one of the reasons why I was so excited by our acquisition of Headsprout, a Seattle-based company focused on teaching children to read. Headsprout’s research-based design and thorough user-testing has allowed the team to create a software application that guarantees that any learner can be taught to read. By bringing this approach to content for interactive whiteboards we can create something truly amazing.
MimioReading Teaches Students to Comprehend Written Text
Our first venture into this approach is with our new MimioReading product, which teaches students to comprehend written text. The MimioReading product expands the original Headsprout Reading Comprehension product by adding effective interactive whiteboard lessons. Each of the interactive whiteboard lessons is research-based and has been tested and proven to work with actual teachers and students in real classrooms. I am excited by this product and we plan to continue to apply the Headsprout methodologies to future instructional products.
Interactive whiteboards and other interactive teaching technologies are great tools that can create effective and engaging learning environments. But it is great teachers using great content with these tools that truly unlock their potential to create a better way to learn.