Interactive Whiteboards in Teachers’ Perceptions

Discussion

Summary of Findings

The use of an interactive whiteboard is becoming increasingly popular in primary schools within the country. Stakeholders in the education sector are embracing technology as its benefits become more apparent than ever before. The findings of this study show that although some teachers are reluctant towards the new technology, most of them have come to acknowledge its significance in the field of education. The majority of them are strongly in support of the new approach. The findings also show that teachers feel adequate training to equip them with skills that can improve their performance in the workplace (Leong & Rasli, 2014). Some of the concepts introduced under IWBs are new to most of the teachers, and they find it challenging to adapt. Proper training will help in addressing the weaknesses.

Key Aspects of Results

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the countries in the region rapidly integrating technology in the education sector. In the past, technology was common at advanced stages of education, especially in institutions for higher learning for those taking pure science. However, studies revealed that introducing technology at a later stage of learning makes it difficult for learners to embrace it. It also became evident that introducing interactive technology at the primary level of education improves the performance of learners. Results obtained through primary data analyses and information gathered from the literature review were based on three questions below:

What are teachers’ perceptions of the use of an interactive whiteboard in primary schools in Hail City?

The first question focused on determining the view and attitude of teachers towards the use of an interactive whiteboard in primary schools within the region where primary data was collected. When introducing a new concept or technology in the field of education, teachers are important stakeholders whose views and attitudes influence the outcome of the new concept. They will play a critical role in ensuring that there is a success when implementing the new technology. However, when they are against the concept, they can deliberately frustrate its implementation. For that reason, the researcher started by determining the perception of participants to know whether they support its implementation. To ensure that data were collected from respondents, the question was broken down to specific themes to determine the perceived benefits of IWB based on teacher’s experience as shown below:

Class time will be managed successfully by using IWB

One of the main challenges teachers often have to deal with is time management. Although the modern curriculum emphasizes the need to move from a teacher-centered to a student-centered model of learning, learners rarely take time to study when a teacher is not in class. It means that learning is still teacher-centered, a concept that many consider outdated and ineffective in the modern education system. Respondents noted that class time is effectively managed when IWB is embraced in school. Al Arabiya (2016) supports the argument by stating that technology encourages learners to engage themselves academically even when a teacher is not physically present in the classroom. When this technology is used, it takes a short period for a class to change from one subject to another.

The lessons will be more active when using IWB

Teachers interviewed in this study noted that when IWB is used, lessons become more interactive than when using the old model of teaching. This finding is supported by De Vita, Verschaffel, and Elen (2014) who argue that using emerging technologies improves students’ engagement in a classroom setting. Learners are offered an opportunity to ask relevant questions based on what is presented n the board. However, the level of interactivity will depend on the training that the learners have when it comes to using the new technology. They need to understand their role and responsibilities.

Discussions in class will be facilitated when using IWB

The respondents also felt that when using interactive whiteboards in primary schools, discussion amongst students is improved. Leong and Rasli (2014) explain that with limited guidance from the teacher, learners can discuss various concepts based on the visuals presented to them in class. They learn how to ask the right questions amongst themselves and how to learn new concepts in the process.

Course content will become more visual when using IWB

Findings from data analysis show that some students find it difficult to visualize what is taught in the classroom, making it difficult for them to comprehend important concepts in a classroom. The argument is supported by Yang and Teng (2014) who argue that using interactive whiteboards, a teacher will help learners in visualizing course content, making it easy for students to grasp the information presented to them. It helps in improving the overall performance of the learners.

Using IWB makes teaching more enjoyable

The results show that respondents felt IWB makes teaching enjoyable. Many students are thrilled by the new teaching method because it also embraces some gaming concepts. As such, they remain active in a classroom, answering questions and asking for clarifications whenever something is unclear, as Alenezi (2016) observes. Teaching such an active class is enjoyable.

Using IWB help me to prepare a lesson

Finally, the respondents felt that the new approach to learning makes it easy to prepare lessons. Given that it is a computer-based system integrating concepts is easier than when using the traditional model (Amoudi & Sulaymani, 2014).

What training needs do teachers have to feel they can be effective in using IWBs?

The next question focused on the training needs of teachers when using interactive whiteboards. This concept is relatively new in the country, and some of the teachers who have been in this field may find it challenging to apply it in a classroom. They need proper training to be prepared to use it. The findings show that teachers need to be equipped with knowledge on how to develop their lesson plans using personal computers and how to present their notes on the interactive whiteboards. Similarly, Alghamdi (2015) emphasizes the need for teachers to learn how to make their students be engaged in classrooms by asking and answering questions based on what is taught in class.

The primary data analysis identified several benefits that teachers and students enjoy when using IWBs. Teachers benefit because it simplifies developing lesson plans and communicating with learners. On the other hand, students enjoy having easy ways of engaging their teachers in case a concept is unclear. Al Mulhim (2014) warns that the benefits of IWBs can only be seen if teachers are properly trained. It is important to understand the major barriers to know how to deal with them. One of the main barriers to the implementation of IWBs is the limited knowledge that some of the teachers have towards its usage. Resistance was another barrier, especially among teachers who have spent decades using the old model of teaching. The graph below identifies major barriers to the implementation of IWBs. The majority of respondents (3.0333) stated that they do not know how to use IWBs, while another significant part of them (2.950) did not know how to apply it in a classroom setting.

identifies major barriers to the implementation of IWBs.

Are there any gender differences in these perceptions and training needs?

In this study, it was also important to determine whether there are gender differences in the perception of teachers towards IWBs and the training needs. It was evident that there is no significant difference between gender in their perceptions and this is shown in the quantitative analysis. The analysis revealed that both male and female teachers need proper training to use the technology-based approach to teaching, as Alenezi (2016) explains. The information obtained from the literature review also supported the finding. Using Icek Ajzen’s theory of perception of planning, it was possible to trace the origin of the attitude, norms, and perceived behavior of teachers towards IWBs (Alghamdi & Higgins, 2015). The theory confirms the empirical findings of the study that the perception of teachers towards IWBs influences the ability to achieve success when implementing it. It also emphasizes the need to take the teachers through proper training. It was possible to justify why a section of teachers tend to justify while others are opposed to the new system.

Methods Used in the Study

The researcher opted to use both qualitative and quantitative research methods in this study. The use of mixed method research is often defined by the nature of the study (Albugami & Ahmed, 2015). In this paper, the focus was to study teachers’ perception of the implementation of interactive whiteboards in primary schools in Hail City. Quantitative data was needed to explain the magnitude of the acceptance or resistance towards the new system amongst the local teachers. A qualitative method was used to explain barriers to the implementation of the new systems and what needs to be done to enhance its success in the local schools. The researcher suggests that other scholars should only use this method if it is appropriate for their study. When future researchers find it necessary to conduct further investigation in this field, it may be necessary to use the same method to achieve the best outcome. The next section of the study presents the conclusion.

Conclusion

Technology is one of the major factors which are defining changes being experienced in the education sector. As shown in the findings and discussion sections above, primary schools in Hail City and many other parts of the country are embracing emerging technologies to improve the quality of education. Government f Saudi Arabia has invested time and finances to improve the education system in the country based on emerging technologies. The introduction of the interactive whiteboards in primary schools is viewed by many as a revolutionary approach to enhancing the country’s education sector. However, its implementation is significantly influenced by the perception of teachers in these learning institutions.

As shown above, teachers play a critical role in ensuring that this technology-based system of learning is embraced and that learners understand their role under the new system. The study revealed that the majority of teachers feel IWBs is a relevant concept that improves learning and makes their work easy. However, it is also evident that the majority of them feel more needs to be done by the government and other relevant stakeholders to improve the skills and capabilities of teachers. One of the main barriers to its implementation, as identified in the analysis section, is the limited knowledge that some teachers have towards its usage, especially senior teachers who are slow when it comes to embracing emerging technologies. As such, proper training has been identified as a major factor in enhancing success when implementing IWBs.

Contributions of the Dissertation

The dissertation will make an important contribution to ensuring that emerging technologies are successfully introduced in the country despite some of the challenges identified in this sector. The study has specifically identified interactive whiteboards as one of the emerging technologies suitable for the local primary schools in Hull City. The study has made a major contribution to this field of knowledge based on the knowledge gaps identified during the literature review. It was observed that this area of study lacked proper information because local empirical studies are yet to focus on this issue properly. The dissertation will be a rich source of knowledge to scholars who are keen on understanding how interactive whiteboards are used in the local schools, factors that limit the ability to realize the level of success desired, and what can be done by different stakeholders to achieve the needed outcome. It is expected that this study will provoke further investigation in this field.

Recommendations

The government of Saudi Arabia, through the Ministry of Education, is committed to ensuring that the local education system is aligned with that of international standards. The government has been embracing best practices as a way of improving the local standards. The introduction of interactive whiteboards is a significant indication of its commitment to improving local education. However, some challenges have emerged which will need to be addressed to ensure that the desired level of success is realized. The following recommendations will have to be taken into consideration:

  • When developing new concepts in the field of education, it is necessary to involve all stakeholders, including teachers and parents, to ensure that its implementation is not opposed once it is introduced.
  • The Ministry of Education should develop a new curriculum for teachers’ training so that they can be equipped with the relevant skills needed for the implementation of interactive whiteboards in primary schools.
  • When rolling out the new system of education, a new program will be needed that will ensure all the current teachers who are yet to learn about this new technology are taken through proper training, especially during major holidays, to equip them with the relevant knowledge they need to handle children based on the emerging technologies.
  • Refresher courses should be developed to help improve the skills of teachers based on the emerging changes in the sector of education.

Implications for Practice

The findings of this study will have a major implication for practice in the country. The use of an interactive whiteboard is gaining popularity in the country because of its obvious benefits. However, numerous challenges still hinder its effective implementation. This paper has identified these challenges and provided a proper way through which they can be addressed. The study has also identified the role of different stakeholders in ensuring that the implementation is done successfully. When these implementations are embraced, teachers will have the skills needed to implement IWBs in primary schools. The study also outlines the support that these teachers need to enable them to meet the expectations of architects of this new model of education in the local education system. It is expected that the standards of education in the country will improve significantly upon the successful implementation of the new system.

Suggestions for Further Research

It is evident from the information gathered from the respondents and that from the literature review that the education system in Saudi Arabia needs major improvements to match some of the world’s finest systems. The study revealed that the country is yet to embrace the emerging technologies in various aspects of learning, especially in primary school. The study has focused on interactive whiteboards as one of the technological concepts that local stakeholders need to embrace. However, this is not the only area of technology needed in the local education sector. The use of hand-held devices among learners is also gaining popularity in developed countries. These devices help learners to make private studies whether they are at school or at home. They improve the ability of learners to conduct group-based research without the need to meet physically as long as their devices are connected to the internet. The researcher suggests that this area of study should be given proper attention by local scholars to determine how it can be implemented in Saudi Arabia schools. The hand-held devices have also made it possible to introduce gaming concepts in complex subjects such as mathematics and pure science. It is suggested that researchers should focus on finding the relevance of such concepts in the country. It is necessary to determine how such concepts can be applied effectively to the local system.

References

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