Can it be empirically proved that using an IWB improves educational outcomes? Clearly, longitudinal studies are necessary before any serious pronouncements can be made. The fact that better presentations are possible using an IWB (Task 1997), kinaesthetic students are catered for (Parkinson 2008) and lesson review is superior (Nostalgia 2004) should, I believe, be largely ignored.
This new book (Publication date: April 2011), however, implies that IWBs can have a “motivational effect on learners”, a serious claim given the absence of adequate peer-review.
A number of teachers teach using interactive whiteboards; most don’t. This new book clearly favours the privileged few, and neglects the hoi polloi. Moreover, the book has a number of serious gaps. There is no extensive Bibliography. There is no section dedicated to making an IWB with an X-Box remote control. Furthermore, the practical teaching ideas can be used with minimal preparation, which is both misleading and seductive to many busy teachers, implying that such successful and off-the-shelf lessons which are pleasing to students can be trotted out without the necessary adherence to deep-structure, socio-cognitive principles, constructivism and Vygotskian thinking. The tasks and ideas can, moreover, be practised by small groups, and have very little to do with traditional transmissive approaches practised in the hallowed plenary theatres of august institutions.
It has to be said that it is highly likely that this long-awaited tome will succeed in language institutions around the world, and help innumerable ELT-initiated teachers deliver better lessons, thus holding back long-awaited research and ultimately atrophying the advancement of world knowledge through the pursuit of PhD’s into outmoded technologies. The prose is crisp and racy, far too easy to understand, and eschews the long and complex sentences of academic writing.
I trust that only Directors of Studies and teachers in need of a quick fix will pay for this book, which I fervently hope will not find its way onto the shelves of any serious library.
Reviewer: Dr Si Fiction (University of Patagonia)