Investigating interactivity around interactive whiteboards: cultural historical perspectives

2017-02-16T05:32:19Z (GMT) by Latheef, Ibrahim
Interactive whiteboards are becoming increasingly popular in classrooms in Australia and many parts of the world and purportedly have a potential to transform learning. However, the extent of their utility is yet to be realized. Current research on interactive whiteboards suggests that the interactivity component is what fosters learning, yet there is a dearth of research that specifies how a higher level of interactivity is achieved. Research on interactive whiteboards is critiqued for being technologically, rather than pedagogically, focussed and lacks a theoretical underpinning to support data analysis. However, the literature suggests it is a combination of technical and pedagogical interactivity that achieves interactivity, which is claimed to foster learning. As a result, this study investigates how technical and pedagogical interactivity intersect and the implication for teaching and learning. Thus, examining what shape of interactivity exists in each learning episode. Consequently, the current research adopts a Cultural Historical Activity Theory framework in attempt to explain how enhanced interactivity is achieved. In addressing the main hypothesis a qualitative case study methodology is used including the following data collection means: observations, classroom videos, interviews and planning documents. The four cases consist of four primary school teachers and their respective classes whose classrooms are equipped with permanently installed interactive whiteboards. The results indicate that technical interactivity exists within pedagogical interactivity and thereby is most usefully analysed within in a pedagogical context. In contrast to what most of the interactive whiteboard research literature advocate, technical interactivity and pedagogical interactivity in themselves are not sufficient to understand the interactive potential of this technology. There are other sociocultural and sociohistorical elements that need to be considered in order to investigate interactivity around interactive whiteboards. It is proposed in this thesis based on the findings that the more interactivity conducted in class with interactive whiteboards, the greater the learning. Yet, no learning episodes observed in this study led to teaching achieving the highest levels of interactivity as measured by the five stage interactivity framework developed by Sweeney (2008). In addition, there is variability in how interactive whiteboards are utilised during teaching and learning. Some teachers used IWBs only as a presentational technology while others used them to enhance learners’ interaction to achieve pedagogical actions. However, based on the findings of this research there are other elements that are related to achieving interactivity that are informed by Cultural Historical Activity Theory. Therefore, based on the findings, a new conceptualisation of interactivity is proposed and includes seven elements that impact the level of interactivity in learning episodes: teacher, learners, learning goals, tools, rules, roles (Division of Labour) and community. This framework is explained as part of the discussion. This study concludes that Cultural Historical Activity Theory approach is useful in understanding the potential of classroom technology, specifically for interactive whiteboards. Further research is needed to extrapolate this conceptualisation and the intensity of interactivity that does and does not foster learning.