ActivBoards - The Future of Education ?

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As you cannot fail to have noticed the interactive whiteboards, known as ActivBoards have been breeding and new ones keep appearing all over the school. Until about a month ago the only one the school had was used by Mr Riordan, but the boards seem to be a success and recently new ones have been fitted in Geography, English, ICT and Business Studies rooms, as well as this more are planned for History and other departments.
Over the summer all the older science labs are going to be refitted, and all the science rooms are going to have the ActivBoards fitted. This all sounds great but are the boards really worth it?

For starters Overmark has found that many of the new boards are not used because teachers don't know how to use them, although this is an issue which can hopefully be rectified by long-term staff training. As well as this one must consider the cost of an ActivBoard. Although nobody has given us (or been prepared to give us) the actual cost of a board, but we estimate their entire cost to be between £1500 and £4000. As well as that each teacher who uses the board needs a laptop (so that an additional £800).

One has to question whether spending all this money on high-tech educational resources is really worth the money. The boards are undoubtedly beneficial to the teaching environment, but could the money not have been better spent elsewhere? For example continuing to replace the useless windows in the art department, or the windows on the C and D floors which let all the noise from the music department in. Another use for the money, within IT would be to upgrade the school copies of software such as Visual Studio, Publisher and Windows to bring the entirety of the school IT resources into the 21st century.

Another possible real reason for fitting the new boards is that it is a way of showing off to other local schools. The school new boards bring them into line with other local schools such as Chatham Boys Grammar, but the new ones going in over the summer would make our school a trendsetter. We spoke to Mr Riordan about the interactive whiteboards, see the teacher column for all the details...

In the school's defence they do not have the power to spend money exactly as they choose, they have sub-budgets for departments and facilities. We were told that our Science College status has granted us an additional £50,000 for IT resources, combined with the school's existing IT budget, the school has to spend the money on IT, it cannot transfer the funds to other budgets like maintenance.

So, is this really the way to fund a school? Its not the school's fault, but rather the Government. It would seem to us that this cannot be the most effective way to run a school, unfortunately this time any change is beyond even our influence.