Ah well, back to the chalk face this morning. Or to be more accurate, the interactive whiteboard-face. I don’t want to say anything critical about the college - not that I think the senior management read my blog every morning but still, I need the salary – but we will be using some new rooms this session and these have been equipped with interactive whiteboards. These aren’t new devices, but our college hasn’t had many up till now and I’ve never had to use one. Yet.
In case anyone doesn’t know what an interactive whiteboard is – and I apologise for my possibly inaccurate description here – it’s a big white computer screen up on the wall. You can’t write on it with chalk or with a whiteboard marker but you can “write” on it with special doofers that look like pens (just to lull technophobes like me into a false sense of security) but which are actually… well, what are they, I wonder? Sort of sensors or something.
Anyway, you can “write” something on this screen and it comes up as wobbly writing. (If you rest your hand on the board to help guide the pen, the screen picks up the movement of your hand and you get smudges.) Then you can do some magic on your laptop and the wobbles turn into print. Theoretically. You can also bring along notes or a Powerpoint presentation or whatever, saved on a memory stick, and then make this appear on the screen (just like with any computer) but then you can move things around the screen with your hands, or draw circles round certain items, or add handwritten notes or arrows or wiggly lines to what’s on the screen. Or at least, I've seen this done.
You find me somewhat vague here because though I did go to a workshop last term on how to use these things, I’ve now forgotten the details, such as how actually to do it. Ok, it’s not so much the details as the fundamentals that I’ve forgotten. I’m really not good with technology.
Should the boards not work – either because they develop a fault or because the operative (eg me) is too dim to remember which buttons to press, the following procedure must be followed. The operative must return to her workroom - a walk of two or three minutes - must sign on to a computer and then must enter a request for assistance on the intranet by filling in a form with full details of the problem. A computer service person will then attend within two or three hours. Meanwhile, back in the classroom… .
Can you see any tiny flaws in this system? I suppose it’s maybe a way to make sure that even the dimmest lecturer (eg me) learns pretty quickly to concentrate on getting the button-pressing right.
Meanwhile, I think I’d better carry a flip-chart with me at all times.
Must stay calm, must stay calm… Think of (whiskers on) kittens.