Warm welcome for the cavalcade of new technology

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
Tim Warren, of Gateway primary in Westminster, has never taught without an interactive whiteboard, and finds it indispensable.

His school has one in every classroom and staff happily mix video, sound files and scanned images in lessons. A typical lesson might involve displaying pages from a story book, zooming in or annotating key features.

A writing exercise on the moon landings could fire the children's imagination with video of the take-off or audio files of President Kennedy's speeches.

Mr Warren said: "It's much easier and more powerful for the children to write about something when they have seen it for real."

About the only thing for which he does not use whiteboards is interacting - pupils are rarely asked to use the board. Mr Warren said it tends to slow down lessons, and is not convinced it would help pupils. They become nervous about getting something wrong in front of friends and tend to block light from the projector.

There is a price to be paid for the whiteboard's advantages - the moon landings presentation took a week to produce. "The teacher involved enjoys putting her slide shows together and will happily do it at home at weekends, but perhaps most teachers won't."

The other cost is financial. The whiteboards are expensive to buy and to run. Mr Warren said the bulbs cost pound;250 each, and though they should last a year, they burn out every few weeks.

"If one goes just before school, there's a panic - teachers are so reliant on these things," he said.

Despite the technical hitches, many staff find the whiteboard technology invaluable.

"There are teachers who are attracted to our school because of the whiteboards. Some won't go to a school where they don't have them," Mr Warren said.

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