Interactive Whiteboards in Education

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An interactive board enables the user to connect with the rest of the world through internet connection. Kusile Labs & Technology provides a complete set that includes the projector, which projects the images to the white touchscreen board from the computer, the whiteboard and the comouter. Depending on the distance from our Head Office in Durban, transportation costs may be charged.

The use of Kusile Labs & Technology's interactive whiteboard allows the educator to demonstrate the lesson to the learners while standing in front and the learners are able to follow the lessson on their personal computers. This is ideal for lessons in a computer lab and for those subjects where programs can be used for teaching.

Subjects such as Biology as seen from the above picture can be taught from a computer lab. Kusile Labs & Technology will provide a school with the learning programs for such subjects. Schooling has evolved such that in many parts of the developed world, teaching is taking place through internet; that mens leaners are able to learn while at home or any place where they can access internet. South Africa, though far behind in such tecnology, should be investigating how such technology can enhance the education system in the country.

Interactive Whiteboards in Education

In the First World countries, talking about education is tantamount to talking about one-to-one computing, ubiquitous learning and students in control of their own learning, and personal computing devices, such as laptops or PDAs. But what does this mean for shared display technologies such as the interactive whiteboard? Will the advent on 1:1 classrooms mean teachers have less need for them?

With over 3 million interactive whiteboards in use in classrooms worldwide, and with numerous studies demonstrating their value to teachers and learners, there is an important place for them in education today, especially in South Africa where technology and ICT skills are in critical scarcity. But what exactly is that place in 1:1 setting? At the very least, the implementation of 1:1 learning environments should lead us to a thoughtful review of interactive whiteboards within this new context. Interactive whiteboards play a critical role in 1:1 classrooms, particularly in the way they support differentiated or personalised learning.

Public and Private Learning Spaces

Teaching to the whole class, as well as to individual groups, is an important component of personalised learning, an approach to learning and teaching that, ‘’requires effective whole-class interaction, with good use of questions and fielding of pupil responses, as well as guided group learning and closer support and intervention for those pupils who need it”.[]

With a need for teachers to shift between individual, small group and whole-class activities, learning can be usefully thought of as taking place in two kinds of space; public and private. Learning’s public realm is largely that of class room lectures, demonstrations, whole-class discussions, debates and question-and-answer sessions. Its private realm is that of individual and small group work in class, and individual study outside of school and curriculum boundaries, which could include homework and general exploration of a subject of interest.

Different educational technologies help to define and support these learning spaces. If students’ personal computing devices define private and semi-private spaces for individual and small-group learning, then interactive whiteboards define the public learning space of the whole class.

Interactive whiteboards not only function as public display surfaces, but can also bridge personal and public computing space by enabling the sharing of information with students’ personal devices. Used together, interactive whiteboards and personal devices can define the public and private learning spaces of the classroom, facilitate transitions between whole-class, individual and small-group learning, and encourage student participation and interaction.

Benefits of Personal Computing Devices

Personal computing devices, including laptops, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and tablet PCs, offer numerous benefits that continue beyond the walls of a classroom for students and teachers. They help teachers personalise learning and embed one-to-one computing, and they can extend students’ learning experiences outside of school.

The increasing affordability of these devices helps bridge the digital divide, and their portability, processing power and storage capacity make them useful and convenient tools for teachers and students alike.

Futurelab’s “Handhelds: Learning with Handheld Technology”, summarises the wide ranging benefits of handhelds for UK students, noting that, “they can act as tools that are available to the individual learner to be managed and personalised by them and they are portable, supporting access to information and resources in all lessons and all educational and domestic environments regardless of the availability of desktop computers. . . . Students concentration and confidence blossom, and it seems the use of handheld devices can result in improved ICT skills, improved home/schools links and better social interactions. []

The Becta report “Handheld Computers (PDAs) in Schools” (2003) concurs, noting that students using the devices benefit from universal access to learning technology, ubiquitous learning opportunities and improved ICT skills and interest regardless of social class or income level. Both students and teachers gain from improved organisation, easily accessible data storage retrieval and an interface that works at home and at school.[]

Benefits of Interactive Whiteboards 

Interactive whiteboards have many advantages for students and teachers. Highly visual and engaging for today’s tech-savvy students, interactive whiteboards create a focal point for whole-class learning. They also simplify the intergration of multimedia in lessons and can improve student achievement.

The UK’s 2004 Evaluation of the DfES ICT Test Bed Project (2004) notes that, “interactive whiteboards provide a shared pedagogical space where teachers and learners can interact with curriculum content and one another. Not only does it focus the individual pupils on the learning resource but it also provides a communal image and space and encourages socially supported learning”. []

Having interactive whiteboards in their classrooms help teachers streamline the creation and delivery of media-rich lessons, and enables them to easily draw from a wide range of multimedia resources. In its research review, What the Research Says About Interactive Whiteboards (2003), the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), concludes that an interactive whiteboard “encourages more varied, creative and seamless use of teaching materials”, []. By supporting their lessons with different types of media, be they visual, auditory, interactive or all three, educators can also appeal to a broader range of students learning styles.

South African education system has a long way to go in achieving minimal standard resources in the technology use at schools. It is one of Kusile Labs & Technology’s main business focus area, where the interaction and strategic partnerships with all the stakeholders will enhance the plans to bring these technology devices and infrastructure to all our schools.

There is a recognised greater engagement and participation level among students with access to interactive whiteboards in their classrooms. According to Becta, the interactive whiteboard “facilitates student participation through the ability to interact with materials on the board” and “engages students to a greater extent than conventional whole-class teaching, increasing enjoyment and motivation”. These findings are echoed in America’s Digital Schools (2008) which notes that using an interactive board enables teachers to get the most from whole-class instruction.

Interactive Whiteboards and 1:1 Learning in Action

The Taiwanese study “Do Handheld Devices Facilitate Collaboration? Handheld Devices with Large Shared Display Groupware to Facilitate Group Interactions” (2007) underscores the value of large displays in enabling and encouraging collaboration in classroom where handheld computers are used. [Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2007) p. 23 and 285-299]. While acknowledging the potential of handheld devices in one-to-one computing environments to improve classroom dynamics, the authors argue that individual classrooms based on one-to-one computing alone can limit student interaction

Liu and Kao compared three groups of students learning statistics and data-mining techniques in a think-pair-share learning activity. Think-pair-share is a four-step collaboration activity:

  • The teacher poses a question to the whole class
  • Students are given time to think about the question
  • Students discuss their thoughts with a partner
  • Each pair shares its thoughts with another pair or with the whole class

In this experiment, one group used tablet PCs only, the second group used the tablet PCs with network file sharing and the third group used the tablet PCs with a large shared display. The researchers found that the tablet-only group showed less interaction because “the screens of handheld devices, being devised for individual-user mobile application, limited promotion of interaction among group learners” (Liu & Kao, 2007, p. 285) and led to fragmented and ineffective communication. These difficulties were due to the small, individual-user format of the tablet PCs, which made it difficult for students to share information, particularly with non-adjacent partners.

On the other hand, students “exhibited higher participation ratios in the environments with shared displays. Moreover, students easily viewed and compared the answers of all their partners on a shared display. . . Therefore, in the environment involving shared displays, students demonstrated more equal participation rates than those in environments with only tablet PCs and networks” (Liu & Kao, 2007, p. 294). The research concluded that, because the large format display allowed students to share information by simply pointing to on-screen text figures and diagrams “shared displays enable students to interact with one another and refer to related information naturally” (Liu & Kao, 2007, p. 295)


  • Interactive Whiteboards are a large display that connects to a computer and a projector. The projector projects the computer's desktop onto the board's surface, where users control the computer with a pen, finger, or other device. The board is typically mounted to a wall or floor stand.
  • The main suppliers: Smart, Hitachi and Promethean, a U.K. company.
  • Sales zoomed from 170,000 units in 2004 to 700,000 worldwide this year 2009, mostly to schools.
  • Almost a third of k--12 classes in the U.S.--and three-quarters of the schools in the U.K. have Interactive Whiteboards.
  • More than half of the world's interactive whiteboards (and 63% of those in the U.S.) are made by Smart Technologies, a 22-year-old privately held company in Calgary, Alta. run by husband-and-wife co-founders David A. Martin, and Nancy Knowlton.
  • Martin and Knowlton built the first Smart Board in 1991.
  • Smart Technologies is the most popular Interactive Whiteboard sales manufacturer in the U.S.

Worldwide Influence

  • In 2004 the British government decided to spend $90 million on interactive whiteboards for grade school classrooms.
  • The total number of interactive whiteboards sold by all manufacturers during 2009 was 747,572, up nearly 34 percent from the previous year.
  • Future-source predicts the number of interactive whiteboards sold in 2010 will be nearly one million – a 27 percent increase over 2009. There are currently 2.78 million interactive whiteboards installed worldwide, representing approximately seven percent of all classrooms.
  • There are approximately 1.5 million SMART Board interactive whiteboards installed worldwide, and more than 30 million students benefit from the product every day.
  • By 2013, it is predicted that 20 percent of classrooms will include an interactive whiteboard.

Effects on Students

  • "There's no silver bullet in education, but we see these increasing student enjoyment and decreasing behavioral problems and that translates into better student achievement.”- Smart Technologies Owner N. Knowlton
  • Teachers can use whiteboards for wonderful interactive multimedia presentations for an entire class, combining many types of digital material with the touch of a finger, or they can use the boards with only a couple of students at a time. The presentations and student work can be annotated and saved.
  • Whiteboards can be used with student response systems, visual presenters, podcasts, and much more. Used properly, they could even be the teaching tool that can compete for students' attention with TV, games, and other exciting external visual activities.

Technology Extensions

  • When attached to the Internet, these boards are a portal to the digital world.
  • Students can manipulate what's on the screen with a finger or a stylus.
  • If you want to use them like a blackboard, you can do that too!


  • An extended control panel allows users to plug in devices such as document cameras, laptops, and other A/V equipment.
  • The series can be operated with a stylus pen, pointing device or just a finger.
  • Products may include slates and minicomputers, software, projectors, student response systems, and various other accessories available at an extra cost.
  • Boards can be mounted permanently, or purchased on moveable stands
  • Digital ink features allow users to write over applications
  • Notebook Software can be used for creating, managing, and teaching interactive lessons

Technologies Effect on Education

  • 2009 Study of 170 classrooms and 85 teachers (USA)
  • Using interactive whiteboards was associated with a 16 percentile point gain in student achievement. (This means that we can expect a student at the 50th percentile in a classroom without the technology to increase to the 66th percentile in a classroom using whiteboards.)
  • 3 features had a statistically significant relationship with student achievement
  • Learner-response device — handheld voting devices that students use to enter their responses to questions. The percentage of students providing the correct answer is then immediately displayed on the board in a bar graph or pie chart. Using voting devices was associated with a 26 percentile point gain in student achievement.
  • Use of graphics and other visuals to represent information. Use of these aids was also associated with a 26 percentile point gain in student achievement.
  • Interactive whiteboard reinforcers— applications that teachers can use to signal that an answer is correct or to present information in an unusual context. These applications include dragging and dropping correct answers into specific locations, acknowledging correct answers with virtual applause, and uncovering information hidden under objects. These practices were associated with a 31 percentile point gain in student achievement.
  • Think through how they intend to organize information
  • Group information into small, meaningful segments
  • Insert flipcharts that remind them to stop the presentation so students can process and analyze the new information

Some of the Benefits to learners

  • Use the built in maps to teach continents, oceans, countries, or states and capitals.
  • Present presentations created by student or teacher
  • Have students create e-folios including samples of their work and narration
  • Teaching students how to navigate the Internet
  • Illustrate and write a book as a class. Use the record feature to narrate the text.
  • Use the IT softwares to create lessons in advance at home or at school. Then save them for future use or to be shared with other teachers
  • Diagramming activities
  • Teaching steps to a math problem.
  • Have students share projects during Parent/Teacher/Student conferences
  • Teaching vocabulary
  • Electronic Word Wall
  • End each day by having students write one thing that they learned
  • Digital storytelling
  • Teach whole group computer or keyboarding skills
  • Brainstorming
  • Take notes directly into PowerPoint presentations
  • Reinforce skills by using on-line interactive web sites
  • Creating a project calendar
  • Teach editing skills using editing marks
  • Use highlighter tool to highlight nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

The use of interactive whiteboard in Mathematics, Biology, Geography, Information Technology, Science, Business Management, Account etc will enhance the skills development of our learners from an early learning phase and prepare them for university level education.

The government and the corporate business should invest more money in research into ways of supplying schools with the necessary tools and equipment that will bring our education into part with the developed world. We cannot afford to relax under the misguided concept that we are third world country and cannot afford advanced technology in our schools. The reality remains the same that our economy is dependent on the level of our education system and what it offers the market in terms of the skilled workforce.

Our company is seeking to form partnerships with government departments, NGO’s and other corporate business through Corporate Social Investment to identify ways we can uplift the education in South Africa.

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