Using the Activboard more

Last week I wrote about using the VLE more. This post is about using the Activboard more. Activboard is Promethean’s brandname for their Interactive Whiteboards.

Probably better to read this post and the VLE post in conjunction with my blog post on cheese.

Using the VLE and the Activboard is one part of a wider strategy in increasing holistically the use of ILT in our college to enhance and enrich the learning process. It isn’t nor has it been about using JUST the VLE for web based learning, or ONLY using the Activboard in the classroom, it’s about using the available technology to solve problems and improve the learning experience. We have Activboards in every teaching space, this benefits the learners by providing a computer and internet access to every teaching space. They also ensure that every teaching space has a projector, speakers and a printer.

Yes there are issues and problems with IWBs however like any learning technology there are things they do well and things they do badly. Do they reinforce a particular style of teaching, well only if you let them… Bad teaching is still bad teaching regardless of the technology available and other systems and protocols should be place to improve the quality of learning. No one is forced to use the Activboard for every session, but practitioners have the choice.

At a very simple level many practitioners will use the Activboard in the same way they would use a traditional whiteboard, by using it to take notes, write responses, or provide guidance to learners on the subject and topics in that lesson. The Activboard has many advantages over whiteboards with the main ones been: it has multiple pages; it can be prepared in advance; it can be saved.

The multiple page feature of the Activboad allows all the text and commentary from the lesson to be available throughout the lesson. With a traditional whiteboard you would rub off what had been done and start afresh. With the multiple page functionality it is possible at the end of the lesson to review every Activboard page that has been done.

The multiple page feature also means that it is possible to prepare Activboard pages in advance. Yes you can use Powerpoint or another presentation tool, but sometimes it is easier or makes more sense to use the Activboard.

The fact you can save Activboard sessions means that this takes the use of a whiteboard to a new level. Practitioners will be able to reuse sessions in different lessons (either with different groups or the following year). Sessions can be printed, they can be given to a learner or placed in a teaching file. If practitioners save, print and export their Activboard sessions, both learners and practitioners can access these sessions at a time and place to suit them. By exporting sessions as PDF, these resources can then be e-mailed or placed on the VLE for remote access.

In my mind these “basic” functions of the Activboard should be seen to be normal usage by practitioners.

So the next question is how do practitioners take their use of the Activboard to the next level?

You could use the process I outlined in my article using the VLE more. Get the practitioners from a particular curriculum area to attend a session on the different capabilities of the Activboard. This session should be not too long, a hour is certainly practical. Within the session various functions of the Activboard are demonstrated and a short explanation on a learning or administrative problem that it solves.

All the practitioners then choose at least one function that they will use with their learners on one of their courses. This could be using the Activexpression learner response systems, using audio and video within the Activboard, drag and drop, etc… There are lots of ideas on Promethean Planet.

They will then report back (say in a team meeting) on the impact and outcome of using this functionality, before choosing the next feature, and so on… They may want to involve their learners in this process too.

This is about moving the responsibility of using the Activboard to the practitioner, and their continuing personal development in the use of the Activboard to enhance and enrich the quality of the learning experience.

2 thoughts on “Using the Activboard more”

  1. Good posting James.

    We have Smartboards at City College and have a couple of sets (4) of activexpression handsets. When they were originally demoed, we were assured that the activinspire software could be downloaded free to use across the site despite us being a smartboard college. Promethean seem to have changed their minds on this and the resllers are adamant that we can only use the handsets on the limited number of 4 smartboards, despite havng purchased additional receivers in order to split the sets into a greater number for use in classes.

    This has significantly limited the impact we have been able to make in the classroom as it obviously limits deployment.

    I was considering suggesting to teachers to download activeinspire from home onto a mem stick so they can use activinspire as a portable app. What do you reckon? or should we just go ahead and install the software across our site?

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