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Interactive Whiteboards and EFL in Brazilian Schools

on Thu, 05/19/2011 - 22:33

I followed up this recent tweet from the EU project iTILT's  twitterfountain that referred to: 'a very interesting paper on IWBs and mentoring with EFL Teachers in new British Council publication'

This led to Marcus Ferreira da Silva's chapter: Interactive Whiteboards and EFL in Brazilian Schools. 
In his contribution (2009) he addresses the question: Do Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) have the potential to enhance students’ interaction in the foreign language class?

From the reference on the Macmillan page I selected this concluding paragraph: 


[...] The literature seems to be extremely positive towards the use of IWBs but it is necessary to reflect about their real effect on my teaching context. Throughout this paper I analysed whether IWBs enhance learners’ interaction in the foreign language classroom. My conclusion is ‘yes’ they raise the level of interaction for the motivation and interest they create on students. Teachers’ feedback about the effects this technology has in their classes proves that IWBs are very effective tools in promoting interaction (Levy, In: Smith et al 2005). These teachers argue that as soon as they began using IWBs in their classes learners’ level of motivation have increased significantly. These teachers explained that through PowerPoint presentations and interactive games students feel integrated in the learning process and as a consequence interact much more actively. Thomas, In: Smith et al 2005) adds that through the use of CD-ROMs, websites, PowerPoint slides it is possible to facilitate the learning process as it becomes possible to associate sounds and images.

As at ITILT we will also make us of video recording of classroom activities I was pleased to read in the original publication that video records as a research method were well appreciated.

[..] Also, in order to help me to reflect and assess my teaching performance, I asked a colleague to film my lesson. This was a rewarding experience as I could integrate a new tool into my lesson plan and classroom practice. According to Jupp (2006), those who support the auto-ethnographic approach argue that: reflexivity about oneself and about the research situation, that is, being aware of one’s position in the context of research rather than denying it, is vital to a full understanding and is not completely at odds with forms of ‘truth’ or validity.(2006:16) As my own lesson was filmed, I could reflect on my performance while teaching with the IWB. I could analyse how I managed to integrate the IWB activities with other activities in the lesson. I could also understand that the IWB training I had received was essential for its positive flow. 

On the other hand, frankly, I was a bit disappointed about the coverage of the available literature, but then one always hopes to find more references specifically to MFL-related research. But more importantly I thought the references were relatively dated.

And then there was also this: I found this reference to Cutrim's work rather embarrassing:

[..] In addition to the advantages mentioned above, according to Cutrim (2006) Promethean Tm system has developed the use of IWBs by introducing new equipments and software such as ‘Activstudio’, ‘Activslate’ and ‘Activote’. Cutrim states that this voting system is able to raise the level of interactivity in the classroom and allows teachers to monitor learners progress either in an individually or whole-class bases. HE indicates that this device changes the pace of the class and enables teachers to identify which areas in their teaching need reinforcement. 

After all I have enjoyed working with HER at the Utrecht SummerSchool, and again now in the iTILT project . I will check with HER whether HER website was up at the time this paper was published :-)