5 Ways To Enhance Your Online Science Course Using Interactive Whiteboards

5 Ways To Enhance Your Online Science Course Using Interactive Whiteboards
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Summary: Interactive whiteboards are not just for business conferences anymore. They have made their way into many live classrooms, but have struggled to consistently demonstrate their value in terms of cost and student outcomes. In the online setting the cost can be considerably less (or even free) and easily implemented by an instructor with the help of tutorials. In this article I will show you 5 ways you can use interactive whiteboards in your online science courses as stand-alone lessons or supplements to your existing modules.

How To Use Interactive Whiteboards To Enhance Your Online Science Course

Although interactive whiteboards have become standard technology in many brick-and-mortar classrooms, they are still gaining momentum in the online setting. Many articles are available on their use in the standard classroom setting, but little information exists on their use in asynchronous learning environments.

In a physical classroom, interactive whiteboards help teachers create a more interactive learning environment with the help of projectors and touch screens. In the online classroom, software can mimic the experience of an interactive whiteboard, allowing students to explore a topic further through virtual field trips, interactive exercises, practice activities, and even real-time feedback from the instructor.

Many online interactive whiteboards allow an instructor to upload a picture or illustrate a concept while simultaneously adding notes and audio explanations. With many programs, the finished product can be saved and uploaded to the college’s Learning Management System. The following are 5 ways you can use interactive whiteboards in your online science courses:

  1. Demonstrate A Laboratory Procedure.
    You can upload a video of a laboratory procedure, then pause the video at certain points to discuss (and illustrate on the whiteboard) critical points in the procedure. You can also use pauses in the video to quiz students on what step should be performed next.
  2. Go On Virtual Field Trips.
    Arizona State University has a variety of online virtual field trips with interactive components: http://vft.asu.edu/. One of my favorites is “Biological Anthropology” that includes several lab exercises on the evolution of Hominids. More virtual field trips are in development from “Extreme Environments” to “Tectonics”.
  3. Capture Lessons Using The Screen Recording Option.
    Many of the free interactive whiteboard programs have screen capture abilities along with audio options for voice recording (see my Sankore example below). Use these tools to show students where to find assignments and resources within your current learning management system.
  4. Include Interactive Exercises To Supplement Lectures.
    The National Stem Centre contains videos, case studies, quizzes, articles, and textbooks on a variety of subjects include science. Users can narrow their search for a specific lesson by type of activity, subject area, publication year, and targeted age range. One of the most popular activities is the interactive periodic table: http://www.nationalstemcentre.org.uk/.
  5. Share And Exchange Whiteboard Lessons.
    SMART exchange is probably one of the most popular interactive whiteboard software and resource site for searching and sharing lessons. Topics cover a number of subject areas and are copyright-free: http://exchange.smarttech.com/.

Online Interactive Whiteboard Platforms

One of my favorite online interactive whiteboards is BrainCert’s platform: http://www.eduweaver.com/. I highly recommend this interactive whiteboard for ease-of-use and cost (it’s free!). The free version allows up to 10 attendees to participate in a live class session. I was also able to install the whiteboard in Blackboard by copying and pasting their html code into my course. I followed the simple instructions to generate an API key then inserted this into the suggested html code within my Learning Management System: https://www.braincert.com/developer/whiteboard-api.

Also worth mentioning is the free interactive whiteboard software Open Sankore. Also completely free with additional functions like website access, podcast recording, and storyboard-like capabilities. See the YouTube video example here on blood typing demonstrating how Sankore can be used as a supplement to an existing module: http://youtu.be/pf5SuYwYfBw.

Many resources are available for interactive whiteboard users including templates, lessons and software. TeachHub.com summarizes some of the most popular sites in the article 65 Free Interactive Whiteboard Resources by Danny Nicholson.

For an even more comprehensive list of technology tools for online instructors including interactive whiteboards and more see Christopher Pappas’ article 321 Free Tools for Teachers - Free Educational Technology.