Wingate Seminar highlights interactive white boards potential


11 April 2008 Wingate Seminar highlights interactive white boards potential The excitement of teachers about the potential of interactive and collaborative techniques and technology was palpable at the conclusion of this years Wingate Seminar. The seminar, generously sponsored by the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, brought 16 education professionals from eight countries to ORT House, London for a weeks intensive exploration of New Technologies for Collaborative Learning. Experts including lecturers from Cambridge University, Kings College London, and Staffordshire University presented a broad range of what new technologies offered students and teachers. Zohar Nir-Levy, a geography teacher at Shaar HaNegev High School in Israel, is looking forward to the installation of interactive white boards (IWBs) in her school as part of World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. Im surprised by how much we can do with this technology. Its amazing, Ms Nir-Levy said. I havent stopped thinking about how I can use it and what my students will say. Theyll like it very much. World ORT has started installing 10 smart classes each featuring IWBs linked to laptop computers and connected to World ORTs international videoconferencing network in Israeli schools participating in Kadima Mada. Shaar HaNegev will wait until the summer holidays for its smart classes because only then will the classrooms that are reinforced against rocket attacks from Gaza be free for installation work. Not only had Ms Nir-Levy and her seminar colleagues learned how to use IWBs, she finished the week appreciating the importance of collaborative work for students and how she can use collaborative techniques in teaching. I now know the benefits of students working together and listening to each other and sharing knowledge, she said. Daniela Momigliano, who teaches Technical Drawing and History of Art at the Jewish School of Milan, said she was impressed by what she had seen at the Wingate Seminar. Im enthusiastic about the system its the best that Ive ever seen, Ms Momigliano said. We could really use this in our school, from primary students up. The idea is to persuade the Jewish community in Milan to get into the system the Italian system is very much behind other countries. We hope to have at least two IWBs at my school in the near future. World ORTs Research and Development Coordinator, Dr Yakov Ronkin, coordinated the seminar and was very pleased with the results. It was a great seminar: we explored novel technologies and instructional methods that could significantly enhance our students learning experiences, Dr Ronkin said. Some of the new ideas were presented by our guest speakers but equally important were contributions made by participants. The title of this years seminar was of New Technologies for Collaborative Learning from interactive white boards to Google Docs, Wikis and much more; in my opinion a lot of interactive learning happened between participants. Irina Lukina, Deputy Director of the ORT de Gunzburg High School in St Petersburg, agreed. One of the most important things was the collaboration and discussion with other teachers, said Ms Lukina, who made a presentation at the seminar on the use of collaborative technology in project-based learning. Theres a feeling that all teachers face the same challenges and together we could solve problems as well as establish new contacts with schools around the world. As a language teacher, she particularly appreciated the presentation on Developing Pedagogical Strategies for Interactive White Boards to Support Classroom Learning by Sara Hennessy, Lecturer in Teacher Development and Pedagogical Innovation at the University of Cambridges Faculty of Education. This presentation showed me how IWBs are used to teach languages and I was surprised by what I saw, Ms Lukina said. An IWB was installed in my classroom in January so I am in the process of investigating its possibilities. This seminar has been very timely for me. I feel more positive and more confident about using the technology now. It is not only teachers who have benefited from this, the ninth Wingate Seminar. Eran Waxman, ORT Technical Coordinator at the Hillel Community Day School in Miami, said he had not only learned how to collaborate better in group structures that use electronic devices such as IWBs but had also gained insights into designing study models with IWBs. With what Ive learned here this week I will try to design tailor-made training for white boards, Mr Waxman said. I am very impressed with the new avenues and solutions discussed at the seminar such as building your own low cost smart board that could be a great activity for students. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said the theme of this years Wingate Seminar had a direct impact on the efficacy of learning. Collaboration is well suited to project-based learning and the introduction of collaborative technologies in the classroom through the use of a variety of media, including IWBs, provides teachers with the necessary tool, methods and knowledge to enhance both the teaching and the learning process. When these Wingate Seminar participants return to their communities in Italy, Ukraine, Russia, Israel, Bulgaria, Mexico, France and the USA they will share their experiences and new knowledge. And by communicating what they have learned to others, they will enable more people to benefit and, in turn, further ORTs educational goal of using new technologies in the classroom to facilitate learning and development. In addition to Dr Hennessy, guest speakers at the seminar included: Dr Mary Webb, Senior Lecturer in IT in Education at Kings College London, who spoke on Pedagogy for Collaborative Learning with ICT Lessons from Research and Future Possibilities; Helen Walmsley, E-Learning Models Coordinator at Staffordshire University, who ran a workshop on Using Wikis for Collaborative Learning; Peter Lambert, Solutions Specialist at Promethean, who presented a wide range of IWB teaching techniques; and Dr Mary Ulicsak, prototype researcher and evaluator of digital technologies for learning within the UK at Futurelab, who led a workshop of Innovative Technologies to Support Collaborative Learning.