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Editorial 26(4): Preface to the Special issue
Interactive whiteboards: An Australasian perspective
University of Central Lancashire
The University of Melbourne
Editors, Special issue
Interactive whiteboards (IWBs) have been one of the most visible signs of digital technologies in education over the last decade (Becta, 2003, 2004, 2006). Like many other technologies adapted for education in the past one hundred years, they have often been advanced as ushering in a 'transformation' or 'revolution' of pedagogy (Beetham & Sharpe, 2007; Betcher & Lee, 2009; Cuban, 1986, 2001). Perhaps like no other learning technology before, however, they have been supported by central governments with huge amounts of public investment as well as by private and corporate training providers around the world, particularly in the UK, but also latterly in Europe, the United States, South America, the Middle East as well as in Asia. Whereas in the early phase of IWB integration in the UK, research studies were concerned with whether the technology could enhance learning, latterly the question has been how best to use it as a teaching tool. As Rudd (2007) suggests, we ought now to turn to consider questions about "the optimum conditions for effective use; the factors that may support such use; the aspects that may influence future developments; as well as the types of evidence needed that will enable us to implement appropriate changes" (p. 1).
An increasing body of research has developed in response to the more widespread use of IWBs in the compulsory education sector over the last five years (Moss et al., 2007). Building on the case study research and practitioner perspectives which accompanied the early stages of their integration, in 2007 a special edition of the journal, Learning, Media and Technology, was devoted to the topic entitled, "The interactive whiteboard phenomenon: Reflections on teachers' and learners' responses to a novel classroom." A growing number of publications and research studies following this period resulted earlier this year in the publication of the first academic collection on the subject by leading researchers in the field (Thomas & Cutrim Schmid, 2010). Just as digital technologies are receiving greater acceptance,their ability to enable improved opportunities for national and international collaboration between learners as well as between teachers, has led to an increasing concern with the way technologies and e-learning pedagogies are culturally mediated. It is a natural next step in interactive whiteboard research then, to consider how the technology is being used in different national traditions and to focus on the kinds of challenges and opportunities that are being presented by these contexts.
This special edition of the journal responds to these questions and was based on a call for contributors from the Australasian region. The resulting edition consists of ten papers from academics, teachers and researchers based in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore, thus reflecting the increasing appeal and importance of the technology in the region and in different national and pedagogical traditions.
The majority of contributions are from Australia, a sign of the increasing importance of digital technologies in that context, spurred on by the government's policy initiative, Digital Education Revolution. Established in 2008, the initiative is supported by Au$2.2 billion on investment over a six-year period and aimed at two interrelated areas of technology integration: ICT infrastructure and professional development. Likewise in the case studies on New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan in this edition, we can also see the investment by governments in ICT for providing access to the 21st century and digital literacy skills necessary for a new generation of teachers and learners in the knowledge economy (Castells, 2000; Lankshear & Knobel, 2007). The important place occupied by professional development in these policy documents reinforces the history of IWBs to date, namely, that while it is important to upgrade ICT equipment and provide new and established teachers with online curriculum tools and conferencing facilities, it is essential to offer them opportunities to explore the implications for pedagogy first and foremost.
In the ten articles collected in this special edition we can see the importance attached to pre- and in-service teacher training (Campbell & Kent; Divaharan & Koh; Jones & Vincent; Lai). In the others we can see research perspectives emerging on themes that have thus far framed early engagements with IWBs in the UK, such as science education (Murcia & Sheffield), networked collaboration among educational providers (Dawson; Mitchell, Hunter & Mockler; Yelas & Engles), and appropriate pedagogical strategies (Northcote, Mildenhall, Marshall & Swan; Winzenried, Dalgarno & Tinkler).
All of the perspectives collected here reinforce Moss et al.'s (2007) assertion that, "the introduction of an IWB does not in and of itself transform existing pedagogies" (p. 5); only teachers can do that. By being only the second special edition of peer reviewed papers to focus on interactive whiteboards, and the first to consider the use of the technology specifically in the Australasian region, it is hoped that the research collected here will provide a unique perspective on this influential learning technology - an indication of where we are now as well as signposting future directions.
Becta (2004). Getting the most from your interactive whiteboard: A guide for secondary schools. Coventry: Becta. [viewed 22 Feb 2009] http://foi.becta.org.uk/content_files/corporate/resources/foi/archived_publications/getting_most_whiteboard_secondary.pdf
Becta (2006). The Becta review 2006: Evidence on the progress of ICT in education. Coventry: Becta. [viewed 22 Feb 2009] http://becta.org.uk/corporate/publications/documents/The_Becta_Review_2006.pdf
Beetham, H. & Sharpe, R. (2007). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing and delivering e-learning. London & New York: Routledge.
Betcher, C. & Lee, M. (2009). The interactive whiteboard revolution: Teaching with IWBs. Victoria, Australia: ACER Press.
Castells, M. (2000). The rise of the network society. The information age: Economy, society and culture, Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technology since 1920. New York & London: Teachers College, Columbia University.
Cuban, L. (2001). Oversold and underused: Computers in the classroom. Cambridge, MA & London: Harvard University Press.
Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2007). New literacies: Everyday practices and classroom learning. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Moss, G., Carrey, J., Levaaic, R., Armstrong, V., Cardini, A. & Castle, F., (2007). The interactive whiteboards pedagogy and pupil performance evaluation: An evaluation of the schools whiteboard expansion (SWE) project: London Challenge. Institute of Education: University of London. [verified 6 Jun 2010] http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/rr816.pdf
Rudd, T. (2007). Interactive whiteboards in the classroom. [viewed 22 Feb 2009] http://www.futurelab.org.uk/events/listing/whiteboards/report
Thomas, M. & Cutrim Schmid, E. (Eds) (2010). Interactive whiteboards for education: Theory, research and practice. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
|Editors, Special issue: Dr Michael Thomas, School of Languages and International Studies, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, UK.
Dr Anthony Jones, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.edfac.unimelb.edu.au/cgi-bin/public/staff_profile.cgi?id=7001
Please cite as: Thomas, M. & Jones, A. (2010). Editorial 26(4): Preface to the Special issue. In M. Thomas & A. Jones (Eds), Interactive whiteboards: An Australasian perspective. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(Special issue, 4), iii-vi. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/editorial26-4.html
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