NEAC, Transforming Education

Learning without limits

Interactive Whiteboard Training

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Interactive Whiteboard Training  – has recently been delivered to staff at Thetford Academy by Nexus Associates with the aim for them to become confident in the use of their classroom Interactive Whiteboard. The school has been on a split site where one site had Promethean and the other Smart Notebook. With the partial new build and refurbishment the Academy had decided to equip all rooms with Smart interactive boards and therefore require that new staff and existing staff who had been using Promethean needed training. I was tasked with making sure that all staff who required the training were given the opportunity to do so. Unlike the vast majority of schools, the training was not dedicated to just on a staff training day, but was held over a period of 11 days over three weeks.

Training turn off

Although every school tries to make sure that their allocated training days are used as effectively as possible, most of them turn out to be nothing more than induction and information giving sessions, with staff becoming restless and thinking more and more about getting out than signing up for any new issues of training – a training turn off. Combine this with the fact that learning to use an interactive whiteboard is very much a hands on individual affair, any attempt at whole school training session on one of these days is not likely to be a resounding success. Nexus uses a different approach and asks staff to sign up to a series of  shorter 50 minute sessions in the individuals’ preparation or free time, and staff at Thetford were more willing to go down this route. This also allowed us to differentiate for individuals, as some were experts but others were complete novices.

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Methodology

The methodology for the training consisted of Staff being given three evening sessions to choose from as part of the rotation of internal training and although these were large groups I was able to show within 50 mins a wide range of actions and methods of engaging students in their learning – from simple hide and reveal slides, to containers sorting, and demonstrate how simple tricks like cell shades could turn a satisfactory power point lesson into an outstanding plenary or learning point.  The key to this is not to re create the wheel, as it were, but to import the power point or pdf or word document into the software and then enhance it through the myriad of ways the all interactive boards allow.

As well as being able to differentiate for skill levels, individual or small group (no more than 3) training gives the opportunity to focus in on the subject specific tricks that could be used. For example, in PE, staff were shown how they could freeze a video of perhaps discus thrower, and annotate over the video to show the correct stance needed. Or, if looking at basketball tactics, move images and using the page recording facility, play back different moves. In English (and in all subjects) the ability to create starter or plenary flipcharts to question students on literacy terms was another useful easy and quick way of bring the lesson content to the student, as well as checking on understanding.

This method of training staff also allowed for collaboration, where ideas were shared and flipcharts created that allowed other sot use them. The ability to go on line and download other teacher built resources was a great motivator, and both Smart ad Promethean have this facility.  Over the 11 days, over 45 staff were seen by myself, each given tailored tuition and more importantly, time, to use their boards and become familiar with them. Although cascading is a favourite method of spreading  training for most CPD budget holders,  Thetford were far seeing in adopting this approach. Cascading assumes that the person(s) attending the initial training have the time and energy to carry out the training, but invariably this fails for a variety of reasons., usually the lack of time. The method adopted by Thetford and Nexus ensured that the majority of staff received quality and tailored training, giving excellent value for money over the time allocated.

Further development

This is not the end of the training. Soon, all of the staff while be supplied with an iPad, and along with the inclusion of Reflector on the pc, will be able to take the learning out of the front of the class room, even outside to the playing fields. Once saved, the flip chart can be used on the iPad with the inclusion of the Smart Notebook App, as well as giving staff the freedom to be in the midst of the students, sharing the iPad with them to allow them to engage in the lesson directly. Nexus Associates will be there,  along side the staff, training them on how to maximize this new technology and raise the bar of teaching and learning up to outstanding. The staff at the school are a highly motivated group, enthusiastic in their approach to new technologies and care highly for the students in their school. It was an absolute pleasure to work with them and Thetford Academy student’s will be experiencing for themselves one of the best learning experiences that can be offered in any of the schools in their area.