n South African Computer Journal - A feasibility study on the use of 'smart' pens in South African teaching and learning environments : reviewed article




Interactive whiteboards are being installed in many schools in developed and even in developing countries. As they are currently quite expensive, the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) initiated several studies to explore the various types of interactive whiteboard systems. This article describes one of the feasibility studies which investigated the use of a 'smart' pen interactive whiteboard technology in previously disadvantaged South African schools as a means for promoting learning in the classroom while simultaneously developing ICT skills. Most investigations of interactive whiteboards review the use of the more expensive 'smart' board technology. This article details the five most common technical problems experienced by teachers and learners of the 'smart' pen interactive whiteboard technology: calibration and infrastructural issues; hardware and software; training and support; timetabling; and portability. This article then compares the findings with the 'smart' pen with previous research that investigated the more expensive 'smart' boards. The findings reveal that although the types of interactive whiteboard systems have slightly different benefits and drawbacks, the critical issues seem not lie in the choice of the type of interactive whiteboard technology per se, but rather in the way in which they are deployed in previously disadvantaged schools. The key issue seems to relate to teachers' prerequisite ICT literacy and integration skills that need to be in place prior to the installation of interactive whiteboard technology. It would seem that unless teachers are sufficiently ICT literate and the school is in a position to support the use of interactive whiteboard technology, the interactive whiteboards are not used optimally or in a sound pedagogical manner in the classroom.


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