Today was Day 1 of the IWBNet conference in Auckland - the first time this has been held in NZ. Thanks to them for bringing their conference to NZ and to Westlake Girls High School for hosting it. It was nice to hear Alison Gernhoeffer make few opeing remarks which indicate a major problem we have in secondary schools - that of a teaching profession that really has no incentive to change while there is still such an emphasis on external examination results at the last 3 years of education.
But - to the conference - opened by Steven Jury, a senior executive (OK the vice chairman) of Promethean. His presentation was generic and didn't say much that was new - did quote some research from Robert Marzano and published on the BECTA site that shows some significant gains in student learning with IWB use. You can check out the research here on the Whiteboard Blog.
What else did I get from the keynote? One thing was that my Pulse SmartPen caught the entire presentation perfectly in the school hall - without using the special headphones. That pen is just awesome! So, not only do I have the notes I took, but the whole audio to review. What I need now is the promised version of the Pulse software that will convert my scribble to text - that will be a challenge for the OCR/AI software they need to decipher my scawl!!
Chris Betcher (from PLC in Sydney) gave a useful session on possible futures. Nothing to do with whiteboards per se, but everything to do with just how fast stuff develops. Cool 3D book stuff and augmented reality - must check out the site he used.
Robyn Garden from the Invercargill area (where the local trust put IWBs in every class in every school) gave a very practical session which, to be brutally honest, restored my faith in this type of technology. Thanks Robyn for the great reminder that you can provide ICT skills and IWB skills to teachers that don't have them - but to give great teaching skills to someone who doesn't have them is much harder.
There was much more to take in - not all was great, but much was good. Of course you meet new people and old friends too.
But I went along to this conference with a big question. Are these IWBs little more than an excuse to leave the teacher in control of the classroom? I came away from the keynote and the session with Robyn with the belief restored that in reality, a large interactive touch board of some type is the way of the future. So yes, can't wait for tomorrow and more learning.