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Va. Beach booting chalkboards for tech-boards Posted to: Education News Virginia Beach

Ohanian Comment: There are about 70,000 students in Virginia Beach, so this comes out at about $110 per student, say, seven books.

Here's the claim: So far, researchers have found minute improvements in classroom engagement and test scores because of such boards.

No research citations were offered. According to the article, board members say these boards are "a way to ensure students are ready for the challenges of the future."


I'd like to see the board's identification of those challenges.

NOTE: The Virginia Beach public library is facing a large budget cut. I could not find info on the budgets of the public school libraries.

I'm not against whiteboard. I'm FOR making wise choices.

By Lauren Roth


A few weeks ago, the Beach School Board rejected $450 bonuses for all employees to put interactive whiteboards in elementary classrooms.

Board members said it was a way to ensure students are ready for the challenges of the future.

"With technological advancements, we have another option to present the material in a more engaging way," board member Ashley McLeod, a former teacher, said.

The short-term benefits of the technology are less clear.

The interactive boards replace traditional chalkboards with a smooth surface that features touch-screen technology and an Internet connection. Beach educators cite positive effects from both types of interactive boards they're using, Promethean and SMART Boards. The Promethean boards use special pens, while the SMART Boards respond to touch.

So far, researchers have found minute improvements in classroom engagement and test scores because of such boards.

Beach schools have spent $7.7 million on the technology, which also has been adopted by hundreds of school systems in the United States and abroad.

"There's been a tendency for the last 30 years to put the latest hardware into schools. But without the appropriate technological and pedagogical support, it's just a blackboard," said Lynne Schrum, editor of the Journal of Research on Technology and Education, and a professor at George Mason University. Anecdotal reports of successful use of the boards are plentiful, she said.

By October, the division plans to have SMART or Promethean boards installed in every elementary school, part of a push to get the technology into every classroom.

Most schools already had at least a few of the boards.

Several experts said the boards should be introduced where they're most needed.

But Ramesh Kapoor, chief information officer for Beach schools, said a blanket approach is necessary to make them part of the school culture and ensure teachers have access to the same tools.

Bill Johnsen, director of instructional technology, said teachers will get initial and ongoing training on the whiteboards.

Their measurable impact is so small in part because the boards aren't used well in every classroom, said Bruce Torff, a Hofstra professor who studied how the technology affected student motivation in elementary math.

"So far it hasn't taken root as much as it could have," he said. "Most teachers are using it as a high-falutin' projection screen."

— Lauren Roth
The Virginian-Pilot





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