The death of interactive whiteboards - Explain Everything's new collaborative whiteboard
Over the years, I have always defended Interactive Whiteboards. They hang on the walls of almost every classroom in the country. Of course, they are in no way perfect. Many offer up ‘calibration issues’. Others simply sit too high on the wall for the smallest children to reach them. Schools have slowly migrated from ‘projector based’ whiteboards to full on interactive screens. These HD-all-singing-all-dancing solutions are much better. They don’t rely on the bulb of a projector for a start.
However, the biggest issue is not technological. It’s not particularly pedagogical either. The biggest issue really is that interactive whiteboards are not really used interactively. Sure, the teacher might model some writing and occasionally the children will be invited to prod on hyperlinks but that isn’t really enough is it? When you really think about it, how could it be fully interactive? There is only one big screen for around thirty children and a teacher. So on a practical level, it’s just never going to work.
This is where tablets come in. Mobile devices that can be put in the hands of the children and the teacher alike. There are loads of options as well! Different devices and different apps. Some are better than others. Some are free. Some come at a price. One is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest in my opinion. The Explain Everything app is the best. It’s latest update is unbelievable. It is so good that I can confidently call this blog ‘The Death of the Interactive Whiteboards’.
Let me explain why I’m so confident…
Explain Everything's Collaborative WhiteboarD
Explain Everything is an app that has stormed the education world in the last few years. Essentially it is an Interactive Whiteboard app on an iPad. It gives you everything that an interactive whiteboard would give you but on the screen of a mobile device. The iPad itself has built in features that compliment this perfectly. For example, teachers and children can use the camera within their Whiteboard to capture some work in progress and annotate. The microphone on the iPad means that teachers and children can add audio commentary to whatever they are working on. And all this on an app that is easier to use than normal whiteboard software (for more info in this check out ‘17 Things to do on Explain Everything’).
The latest version of the app has now upped it’s game to a brand new level of awesomeness. You can now connect a class of devices all together through their new collaboration feature.
A teacher can essentially become a ‘host’ for a lesson. They create their whiteboard slides on Explain Everything with learning resources built in and then share their slides with the class. If the the children are using Explain Everything on their device that is connected to the same wifi as the teacher, simply tapping a button to collaborate will reveal the project to the children. They just tap on the right project and they’re in! The children can not only see the slides but they can also see the teacher writing on them, adding pictures, moving objects, all in real time. They see everything that the teacher is doing on their device. In terms of modelling, this is a really engaging way of explaining the ins and outs of a task. It’s far more accessible for children with visual impairments. Crucially, each child in the class can then react to the teacher’s instruction on their own Explain Everything board. In turn, the ‘hosting’ teacher can see what the children are doing in real time. They can switch through each child in the class and save or monitor the progress. In other words, the interactivity is a two way street.
Going even further than that, if the children are not necessarily on the same Wifi as the teacher (for filtering purposes perhaps) the slides can be shared via a unique code. This not only means that accessing the slides is easier for all concerned but it also means that potentially children across many locations can access the learning all at once.
This sharing attitude has gone further than the immediate classroom in more ways than one. When a teacher or child creates a Explain Everything project they can choose to publish it to the world. This means that there is already a building community of teachers that are sharing brilliant teaching resources for anyone to use. Tapping on the ‘search’ button opens up a world of presentations for all sorts of ages and subjects. There could be something on their that is perfect for a starter next week or a topic next term. It’s all there and it’s all free. Zooming back into one school, this is also a nice and easy way of sharing projects amongst colleagues. It has never been easier to collaborate over learning and teaching resources
Explain Everything is a cross-curricular core application. It can be used for all sorts of topics and can add additional accessibility to any lesson, even if you do not venture down the route of ‘collaborating’. Without a doubt, it is one of the most innovative and useful apps out there within the Education market. Children and teachers deserve a better, cleaner and more efficient way of working in the classroom. For too many years, classroom practitioners have had to troll through resources on various internet sites to try and find something that vaguely works for their class. Even after downloading the powerpoint or smart slides most teachers then have to adapt the resource to make it work for their children. And for what? The end result is usually a 2D presentation that is played through at the front of the class. The children have no interaction with the presentation and they move on from it as soon as the main activity starts.
The latest version of Explain Everything is not only potentially the death of ‘interactive screens’ at the front of the classroom. It could also be the death of presentations and modelling as we know it. It is that good.