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Joe's design narrative: introducing interactive whiteboards within a high school department

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Joe Monaghan
2 April 2013


Education challenges are situated within a specific context and incorporating/designing new interventions must take this into account. Logistics and resourcing are key components to consider.


About a decade ago, as interactive whiteboards and digital projectors became more popular in English secondary schools, the senior management team of the school within which I worked asked/wanted the science department to make more use of a recently purchased interactive whiteboard.

This was a single interactive whiteboard, which was available for use by the science department. The interactive whiteboard had to be booked and was shared with other departments. 

There were 9 science teachers within the department. I, the head of department and one other science teacher were already using the interactive whiteboard in our science lessons. There was some resistance from the other science teachers in using the interactive whiteboard (essentially they had been offered no training with the technology - or in resource creation - and said it could currently add little to their teachings as no useful resources available and they had no time to develop resources). There was also resistance from the science technicians as they claimed it would be another task they would be ‘lumbered with co-ordinating’ as they would have to move the whiteboard around the school site.

My role

As I had some previous experience in this area the head of science department passed this task on to me to action.


What the school wanted: increased use of the interactive whiteboard by the science department.

What the head of department wanted: the interactive whiteboard task highlighted by the senior management team (SMT) resolved to a satisfactory conclusion for the SMT.

What the science teachers wanted: training and access to ready-made resources for use with the interactive whiteboard.

The perceived challenge: the SMT thought increased use of the interactive whiteboard itself would help (in part) improve the science (and any other) department. There was paranoia and mistrust within the science department regarding an initiative suggested by the SMT, the science department thought they were being unfairly targeted (part of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ culture). However, there was no wider resource-sharing between the science teachers within the department, which my work on this task highlighted as the biggest issue to overcome.


SMT: I highlighted to SMT the fact use of the interactive whiteboard alone would not improve a department; resources would be needed for more interactive whiteboards if any intervention was to be anything more than supplemental to department’s offering; resources would also be needed for technology specific software and staff training (not assuming proficiency or ability to learn by some of the teachers). I also suggested grouping separate departments together for new strategies to overcome possible ‘us’ and ‘them’; and ‘being targeted’ issues.

Head of department: there was a need to create a departmental culture of resource-sharing and this would have to be led by the head of department. Giving individual teacher’s responsibility for separate parts of the curriculum was a suggested starting point in resource creation/sourcing, as was limiting resource development to one key stage initially.

Teachers within the department: I ran a training session on suggested ways the interactive whiteboard could be used both interactively and passively (as a digital projector). I created some simple template resources in PowerPoint for use by the department (trading off some of the resource interactivity with the important characteristic of ‘recreatability’ by novice and expert teacher creator alike for future sustainable working).

Science technicians: together with the technicians I created a booking form for the interactive whiteboard which the science teachers would have to complete sufficiently in advance if they wished to book the whiteboard.    


SMT: agreed to purchase of departmental specific resources and future purpose of departmental whiteboard. Though the SMT felt training needs should be met in-house.

Head of department: agreed to lead on resource-sharing culture (creating first resources for use by other teachers) to support interactive whiteboard use and also to push for greater resource expenditure in support of this area.

Teachers within department: agreed to create resources on a rolling basis targeting on key stage at a time. Two-thirds of the teachers produced resources for use by the wider department; the same proportion began to use the interactive whiteboard on a regular basis, usage increasing with resource availability.

Science technicians: eventually saw the interactive whiteboard as just another piece of science kit to be ordered.


SMT: the SMT purchased subject specific software for the department without consulting the department for expertise. It was later agreed future software purchases should be signed-off by head of department.

Head of department: became a great advocate for the whiteboard use and resource creation with the school.

Teachers within department: as more teachers within department became regular users of the interactive whiteboard, clashes for using the whiteboard resources arose (led to purchase of departmental interactive whiteboard). Teachers became increasingly more confident in whiteboard use and creation of specific resources; they thrived on the additional responsibility of taking ownership of expertise within the curriculum and this transferred across to all areas of resource development within the department.

Learners: a departmental survey of pupils several months later stated learner preference for lessons in which the interactive whiteboard was used as being more fun (this survey was later used by the SMT as evidence for rolling out use in other departments).

Extra content

Pedagogical Patterns Collector adaption of learning design

To What End: Re-design their lessons to include IWB use when appropriate

By what Means:  Eliciting the problem and its context,  Redesigning procedure or structure to take account of the change,

Total session time: 90 minutes.

TLA 1: Eliciting the problem and its context time allotted =30 minutes

  • Tutor pulls out themes from the techers and asks what is the problem regarding Improving use of IWB within lessons (tuto facilitated , group size: 9, Produce -  10 minutes)
  • Tutor makes a short presentation on the terminology and issues relevant to Improving use of IWB within lessons (tutor facilitated , group size: 9, Read Watch Listen -  10 minutes)
  • Teachers in groups discuss and produce their definitions of what the concepts and issues mean for their own practice. (independent , group size: 3, Collaborate -  10 minutes)

TLA 2: Redesigning procedure or structure to take account of the change time allotted =60 minutes

  • Tutor presents the template that teachers can use in their lessons (tutor facilitated , group size: 9, Read Watch Listen -  10 minutes)
  • Teachers in groups use a template to create an IWB resource (independent , group size: 3, Practice -  30 minutes)
  • One teacher from each group presents the IWB resource to the whole class [3 mins per group] (tutor facilitated , group size: 3, Produce -  10 minutes)
  • Tutor summarises activity; highlights avenues of feedback; pointers to useful resources and support (tutor facilitated , group size: 9, Discuss -  10 minutes)

Joe Monaghan
07:47 on 15 April 2013

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