Using eBeam as a whiteboard was one of the eBeam features that I was most excited about (yes – I should get out more!). Most teachers, especially those in EAP using university teaching rooms, have at some point been in a projector only classroom. Last term, I had such a classroom, well there was a white board, but I had to literally (and I do mean literally) climb over the students to get to it. There was however, a projector screen.
When I was asked to be involved in the trial I thought “Brilliant. It’ll make my life much easier; I won’t have to scribble on bits of paper and hold them up or sellotape flip chart paper to the door any longer” (there was no flip chart in the room). I’m sure most of you know what’s coming -it wasn’t really the solution I’d hoped it would be (possibly a bit naive of me to think so in the first place really). The main stumbling block, was actually trying to write. The stylo, not surprisingly, produced very electronic looking writing. It proved very difficult to write and most of the time my writing was illegible. The image below shows some of the board work.
You might think that it looks quite clear (despite the size). It took me quite a long time (about 15 minutes) to get these eight words to look this clear. The stylo seemed to have a mind of its own (or wasn’t calibrated correctly) and often a mark would appear in a different place to where I was writing. As the ‘writing’ was electronic, it was also very difficult to form the individual letters clearly. Consequently, I spent a lot of time rubbing out; not really great for holding students’ attention.
Another challenge was that there was an area on the projector screen that just didn’t react to the stylo and I couldn’t write anything there. This happened to be in the middle of the board about two thirds of the way down. I think this may have been because the ‘beam’ was interrupted at that point. This meant it was difficult to show patterns and relationships and the board work looked a mess, as shown below.
The singular (s) and plural (pl) information should follow on from one another, so that students can see the difference clearly.
Again, from a student’s point of view (as well as mine) this is less than ideal.
These aspects of using eBeam as a whiteboard, not only limit by ability to write on the ‘board’ (and teach as effectively as possible), but also the students. How are they going to feel about participating on board work activities when it’s a struggle to write? Many find it challenging enough enough to come and write on the board and this, in my view, adds a challenge too far.
I’m sure that with time, the quality of my writing would improve – perhaps to the point of being legible on the first attempt! However, I’m not convinced that it’s worth the effort. Numerous students would have to experience ‘dead’ time while I try to ‘perfect’ my writing (and as I mentioned before this can take 15-20 minutes to write very little).
Overall, I don’t feel that students, or teaching, will benefit (or have benefited) from using eBeam as a whiteboard.