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Interactive Whiteboards in Teachers’ Perception Research Paper


Introduction

Studying how well interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are perceived by teachers is impossible without conducting face-to-face interviews. In this section, a content analysis of interview transcripts will be presented to provide answers to research questions that formulated the study. The two research questions to be answered are the following:

  1. What are teachers’ perceptions of the use of IWBs in primary schools in Ha’il City, Saudi Arabia?
  2. What are teachers’ training needs in terms of becoming effective in using IWBs?

Initially, there was an additional third research question concerned with whether there were any gender differences in the perceptions and training needs of teachers, which was formulated to see whether males were more proficient in using such technologies as interactive whiteboards. However, it was decided against being used in this specific research project as all of the interviewed teachers were females. It is possible to conduct a separate study with male researchers who could interview male teachers, and then the results could be compared.

Teachers’ Perceptions of the Use of IWBs

The content and thematic analysis of interviews allowed the researchers to explore the variability in teachers’ attitudes toward the use of IWBs. The analysis was characterized by a close examination and recording of trends and patterns found in the transcripts of the teachers’ interviews. As illustrated in Appendix A, the analysis consisted of developing categories and rules of coding to identify common themes and offer specific examples (teachers’ answers in quotations) to provide a comprehensive overview of how teachers perceived the use of IWBs within a classroom setting and how their knowledge of utilizing them could be improved.

The first question in the interview was concerned with whether teachers would use IWBs if they were available permanently; five out of eight teachers indicated a positive response. For instance, T1 said that IWBs would help students understand new information quicker, while T7 indicated that IWBs could save a lot of time. On the other hand, three out of eight respondents did not show a positive attitude toward permanent IWB use. For example, T2 said that the technology itself was bothersome and gave her headaches, while T6 concluded that IWBs require extreme accuracy (see appendix A).

When asked about how they compared IWBs to traditional blackboards, the teachers gave different answers, which can also be linked to their attitudes toward the use of these technologies. Four out of eight respondents had the opinion that IWBs were better than traditional blackboards. They supported their view by giving answers such as, “interactive whiteboards can attract students’ attention”. Three out of eight respondents showed an overall negative attitude toward IWBs because they considered traditional blackboards better. For instance, T7 said that there were no negative aspects to the use of traditional blackboards, while T4 felt that traditional blackboards encouraged students to think more and make their conclusions. Only one respondent mentioned that both types of blackboards were important and that they complemented each other.

Teachers were then asked whether IWBs were useful in supporting their lessons, which was an important question in showing the true attitude of the teachers. Six out of eight teachers who were interviewed indicated that IWBs supported their practice. An example of a response is as follows: T1 said that she could easily show pictures to students to help them recognize new words better if compared with the traditional method of delivering information. On the downside, two out of eight teachers were not as welcoming of IWBs and said that the technology did not support their practice (see Appendix A). For instance, T4 indicated that she preferred using a projector and PowerPoint files because they did not need as much preparation and attention.

Attitudes toward the use of IWB in primary schools in Ha’il City were also reflected in teachers’ answers about the general difficulties associated with the technology, as well as aspects that hindered their continuous use in the classroom. When asked about the difficulties of using IWBs to teach primary school students, respondents highlighted different aspects. For instance, T1 said that issues with light supply and the Internet were always an issue, while T5 said that the pen that goes along with the IWB is very sensitive and was sometimes hard to write and draw with. T7, T2, and T3 all agreed that maintenance and technical difficulties were the most significant drawbacks to using IWB for teaching primary school students. These difficulties may be associated with the overall environment in Ha’il City neighborhoods, where lights frequently can go out, or there can be issues with the Internet connection. It should be mentioned that only one teacher mentioned that she did not experience any issues with IWB use.

Lastly, to add to the discussion about barriers to IWB implementation, teachers’ responses to the question about aspects hindering the use of the technology at the primary level should be mentioned. Only one out of eight teachers said that she did could not find any aspects that hindered IWB use. T3 indicated that interactive whiteboards had no obstacles, which is a surprising finding if looked at alongside the responses given by other teachers. For instance, T7 said that if students have poor vision, they find it difficult to look at the whiteboard and engage in a lesson. T5 indicated that IWBs are hard to use and maintain because there is no one in the school responsible for managing the equipment and helping teachers to overcome any issues that they might have.

Thus, teachers’ responses regarding their attitudes toward the use of interactive whiteboards in Ha’il City schools were mixed. In some instances, a positive attitude prevailed, especially when it came to supporting the practice of teachers. Saving time, helping students concentrate, and using new tools to boost engagement are the common trends associated with a positive attitude toward the use of interactive whiteboards. On the downside, some barriers that prevented teachers from using IWBs in their everyday practice included technological barriers and the sensitivity of technologies, both of which contributed significantly to the negative view. To find out how to address these negative attitudes, while also enhancing the skill and knowledge of teachers, it was important to explore teachers’ training needs.

Teachers’ Training Needs to Support IWB Use

To answer the second research question, it was important to identify the level of training teachers received to support their use of interactive whiteboards during lessons. Teachers were first asked whether they had attended many training sessions and, if so, how they evaluated their effectiveness. Three out of eight teachers had not received any training, and only one of those three had attended a computer programming lesson. Five out of eight respondents said that they had received IWB-focused training; however, it was the quality of training that needed attention. For instance, T1 indicated that she needed more training courses since the ones that she had received took place a long time ago. T6 said that the course was very simple and not helpful. Only one of the five teachers who had received training said that the courses were very rare and provided her with enough information for the successful use of IWBs in the classroom.

Since it was expected that the level of training that teachers received was not adequate to make them successful in IWB implementation, respondents were asked to list any training topics that they would like to pursue. The responses that teachers gave showed that they needed to explore as many topics as possible to become confident in using IWBs. For instance, T3 said that she needed to know more about how to deal with IWBs overall, including basic functions such as when it came to turning it on and off. T6 needed to know more about the different features that IWBs had, such as various painting and writing options. T7 indicated that becoming more familiar with new programs was also a necessity because technologies were always updating. Only one teacher said that she did not need any additional training.

Based on the findings discussed above, training in the use of interactive whiteboards is necessary to support the practice of primary school teachers in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia. Teachers need to know how to use IWBs effectively and also need to be familiar with the latest functions and capabilities. It is possible that if schools provide appropriate training to teachers, their attitudes toward the use of such technologies will change. In the interviews, it was identified that some teachers were hesitant to use IWBs in their everyday practice because the equipment was perceived to be complex in maintenance. This means that training could be the most effective solution to help teachers become more confident and be able to benefit the most from the use of IWBs when teaching primary school students.

Summary

The content analysis of interviews conducted with primary school teachers from Ha’il City, Saudi Arabia showed that interactive whiteboards had the potential of enhancing lessons if teachers knew how to use them correctly. There was an overall positive outlook on IWBs in terms of helping teachers save time, engage students in lessons, and make teaching more interactive in general, although some teachers were still opposed to the permanent use of IWBs because they did not find them suitable for teaching primary school students.

When it comes to additional training to help teachers understand how they can use IWBs to their advantage, it was found that lessons or courses that the majority of them received were inefficient and lacked substance. Only one teacher indicated that she possessed all the information she needed to use IWBs successfully. Therefore, connections between teachers’ knowledge of IWBs, their integration into teaching practice, and a teacher’s overall attitude towards the technology should be made. If teachers received enough training and had all the information they needed in terms of using IWBs, their attitudes would be more positive. Thus, the findings of the qualitative analysis point strongly to the need for providing teachers with high-quality training sessions. Their knowledge was limited to short courses that did not offer them enough information to understand how the technology could be used to benefit their teaching practice overall.

Appendix A

Thematic and Content Analysis of Interviews

Categories Themes Examples Rules of Coding
1a. Positive attitude toward permanent IWB use.
  1. Helps students understand topics;
  2. Facilitates information recovery;
  3. Saves time;
  4. Is more efficient.
T1: “It will help students to understand quickly.”
T3: “The words can be understood easily.”
T5: “It can facilitate getting the information and recovering the stored information.”
T7: “IWB can save a lot of time.”
T8: “It helps me to save some time and effort.”
Teachers expressed an overall positive attitude toward using IWBs as a permanent tool in their teaching practice. They provided some explanations as to why they would support the long-term use of IWBs.
1b. Negative attitude toward permanent IWB use.
  1. Complicated to use;
  2. Requires preparation;
  3. Inappropriate for primary school students.
T2: “It is somehow bothersome, I had a headache after using it because of its rays.”
T4: “I do not support using the IWB among students of primary level.”
T6: “IWBs are not suitable […] because they require high accuracy.”
Teachers expressed negative attitudes toward permanent IWB implementation. It was expected that the appropriateness of IWB would be discussed.
2a. IWBs are better than traditional blackboards.
  1. Attracts the attention of students;
  2. Saves time;
  3. Allows for a better arrangement of information;
  4. Are better lit.
T1: “Can attract the attention of students.”
T2: “It can save the time and efforts of a teacher in contrast with the traditional one.”
T3: “Arranged with clear words; auto-lighting.”
T8: “The IWB is much better than the traditional blackboard.”
Teachers were expected to mention at least one reason why IWBs are better than traditional blackboards. The benefits of their use during classes will also be provided during teachers’ answers.
2b. IWBs are worse than traditional blackboards.
  1. Encourages thinking;
  2. Are easier to use;
  3. Are more appropriate for primary school students.
T4: “Traditional blackboards encourage students to think and conclude the information.”
T6: “The traditional blackboard is better for little students.”
T7: “The negatives of the traditional blackboard do not exist.”
As some teachers have more than twenty years of experience working with students, it was expected that they would consider traditional teaching methods as superior to new advancements. Any mention of why IWBs are worse than regular blackboards will be included.
2c. IWB and traditional blackboards are equal. IWB complements traditional blackboards and vice versa. T5: “Both are important, they both complement each other.” The theme was found during the analysis. It was not expected that teachers would consider traditional blackboards and IWBs the same in their effectiveness.
3a. IWBs support the teaching practice of primary school teachers.
  1. Helps to facilitate understanding of new information;
  2. Simplifies information;
  3. Helps to get answers from students;
  4. Easy to use;
  5. Attractive to students.
T1: “Yes. I can show the pictures so students can directly recognize the word instead of providing the information through the traditional way.”
T2: “Yes […] IWB can simplify the information and save a lot of time and effort.”
T3: “Yes, especially with answers, and when students write the subjects.”
T5: “A teacher can easily use it. And this IWB attracts the student’s attention.”
T7: “Yes, of course
Technical and colored materials are more attractive to students.”
T8: “Yes, using the IWB supports all my lessons.”
All aspects of interviews that were associated with how IWBs support their everyday teaching practice were included. Specific benefits linked to the operation and the implementation of IWBs were included. Definite answers, such as ‘yes’, were sought to help in the accuracy of the analysis of the qualitative data.
3b. IWBs do not support the teaching practice of primary school teachers.
  1. Other tools are better;
  2. IWBs are not suitable for primary school students.
T4: “I do not prefer it.
I prefer the projector and PowerPoint files.”
T6: “It is not good for the primary level and does not support my lessons.”
Answers contrary to ‘yes’ were included as indications that IWBs did not support the practice of primary school teachers.
4a. Teachers received IWB training.
  1. Teachers attended courses;
  2. More training needed;
  3. Courses were too short;
  4. Courses were not helpful.
T1: “Yes, I attended a training course a long time ago.” “I need more training courses.”
T2: “Yes, I attended a one-day training course.”
T5: “Of course. […]
These training courses are very rare.”
T6: “I attended a very simple course. It was not helpful. I need to attend more training courses.”
T8: “Yes, I attended three training courses.”
Definite answers, such as ‘yes’, were initially sought after during the analysis. Any indications of the courses being short, long, effective, or ineffective, were regarded as important.
4b. Teachers did not receive IWB training.
  1. Never attended;
  2. Attended other courses.
T3: “No, I did not attend any courses.”
T4: “No, never.”
T7: “No, but I have trained for two years on computer programing.”
Direct answers such as ‘no’ were included in the category. All other explanations were considered as positive indications of attending IWB courses.
5. Training topics for achieving effectiveness in IWB implementation.
  1. How to use IWBs effectively;
  2. New methods and functions;
  3. Turning IWBs on and off;
  4. New capabilities;
  5. New programs;
  6. Different features;
  7. Updating general knowledge.
T1: “New methods for presenting the lesson.”
T2: “We need all the subjects that can help us in our lessons.”
T3: “The way of dealing with the IWB especially turning it on and off.”
T4: “Preparing the IWB as a whole.”
T5: “Programs for IWB.
Methods of getting the stored information.”
T6: “Understanding its features and options such as paint and writing.”
T7: “Update our knowledge if there are any new programs.”
T8: “I do not need to train on smart blackboards.”
It was expected that teachers would have different requests regarding training topics for supplementing their knowledge of IWBs. All answers that included any information regarding training topics were considered useful to the analysis.
6. Difficulties of using IWBs to teach primary school students.
  1. Take time for adjusting;
  2. Functioning errors;
  3. An unwanted sensitivity of technology;
  4. Lack of teachers’ experiences;
  5. Electricity issues.
T1: “Time; lighting; the Internet.”
T2: “Headache; electricity; maintenance.”
T3: “The malfunction and maintenance of the IWB need some time.”
T4: “Writing on it because of its sensitivity.”
T5: “Pen because it is very sensitive;
electricity.”
T6: “I don’t have the proper experience to use these techniques.”
T7: “Technical obstacles.”
T8: “I do not have any difficulties while using it.”
As IWBs are relatively new and challenging for some teachers, it was expected that every teacher would have something to say about it. All answers that included any mention of problems in IWB implementation were included.
7a. Aspects hindering the use of IWBs.
  1. Sensitivity;
  2. Students are too young;
  3. Maintenance issues;
  4. Visibility issues.
T1: “The IWB and its accessories are very sensitive to mess with.”
T2: “The students of primary level are so young and may harm the IWB.”
T4: “The concentration of the students.”
T5: “There is no keeper (resource room special teacher) for IWBs.”
T6: “The students of primary level do not understand its importance.”
T7: “Weak vision where some students can’t see small things.”
There could be some difficulties in differentiating categories 7a and 6. However, since interviews included direct questions regarding specific aspects limiting IWB use were included in the thematic analysis.
7b. There are no aspects of hindering IWB implementation. No issues were identified. T3: “The IWB has no obstacles, and it should be used because of its importance.” It was expected that a teacher would have issues linked to IWB use. The category was added during the analysis.
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IvyPanda. (2020, November 27). Interactive Whiteboards in Teachers' Perception. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/interactive-whiteboards-in-teachers-perception/

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