Here’s a point I couldn’t fit into my article on interactive whiteboards, used to help English learners in National School District. Past efforts to digitize classrooms have stumbled, often because the technology is imposed on teachers from the top. As a result, expensive equipment can end up sitting in a corner.

For instance, in Britain, where interactive whiteboards have been embraced by the national government for use in schools, “there is some evidence that [the technology is] underused (somewhere expensive to shine a projector much of the time!)” researcher Tony Fisher told me via e-mail.

National City classrooms did it differently. Superintendent Dennis Doyle said. The school district didn’t force all teachers to use the boards. Instead, the district tried out the technology in 18 self-selected classrooms then let individual teachers decide if they wanted to join.

That was the idea — but it didn’t always happen that way, teachers union president Linda Cartwright said. Not all National City teachers had an option, Cartwright said, and some were told to get a whiteboard. But even in schools where teachers were pushed to adopt the boards, most still like them, she said.

“The teachers in the classroom — even those who were not given as much of an option — appreciate the value,” Cartwright said.


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