How can we make the most out of an IWB in the classroom? An #ELTchat summary


This post is a summary of an #ELTchat on the topic of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) which took place on February 27 at 21.00 GMT. You can read the original transcript here.

The #technoLanguages Blog

There’s a simmering controversy in the ELT world about the value of IWBs in the classroom. For some, IWBs can enhance language instruction and learning, while for others they don’t provide enough learning opportunities to justify their high cost.

As a teacher who has been using IWBs for some years but hasn’t explored their full potential yet, I proposed this topic in order to get practical tips and ideas from fellow chatters. What activities are special to IWBs? What materials or applications can we use? How can we make the most out of an IWB in the classroom?

Within a few minutes the chat turned into a fascinating debate confirming for one more time the controversy that IWBs can attract. As a result, apart from offering practical advice, ELT chatters discussed the pros and cons of using IWBs in the classroom. There were also those who argued that IWBs are already being overtaken by other technologies such as tablets and other types of interactive projection and explained how an iPad can be used instead of an IWB. Finally, some links for further reading were shared.

Enjoy 🙂


  • IWBs can enhance teachers’ lessons (@prese1).
  • Best thing about iwbs is the ability to save all your board notes (@dreadnought001).
  • IWBs allow you to organise your lessons in files (@eng4abetterlife).
  • An IWB is both a board and a window into a computer (@tim_crangle).
  • Easy access to the internet or internet-based exercises (@bhrbahar & @SophiaMav).
  • Easy access to a range of board games (@prese1).
  • Erasing takes a second. Shapes are ready (@bhrbahar).
  • You don’t need to draw everything. You can save your work, share and use it again (@bhrbahar).
  • You can save students’ work as well (@SophiaMav).
  • You can get your students to write/interact on the board with what you are projecting (@tim_crangle).
  • With IWBs you don’t need to carry your laptop to class (@SophiaMav).
  • It can have a great effect on classroom management (@antoniaclare & @Shaunwilden).
  • IWBs can motivate teachers to use technology in the classroom (@JennyJohnson10).
  • From a commercial point of view it can be a selling point for a school (@tim_crangle).


  • They are too expensive (@Marisa_C @blairteacher @CotterHUE tim_crangle @Shaunwilden).
  • IWBs rely completely on having a computer and a data projector working with it; the board itself is just a monitor and a mouse (@Shaunwilden)
  • They encourage teacher (or board) centred learning (@blairteacher)
  • Only one student can work at a time while the others are waiting. This might translate to less engaged students and poor activity (@CotterHUE).
  • School owners might invest on IWBs to advertise their school but use them rather traditionally e.g. projecting text, rules, exercises (@Marisa_C ).
  • It’s not portable (@CotterHUE).

What activities are special to IWBs?

By Activeducator via Wikimedia Commons

@Shaunwilden suggested screenshade and spotlight tools both of which can be used to hide part of a photo and encourage students to speculate. He also added that by changing opacity you can have easy guessing games.

@tim_crangle said that Smart and Promethean boards offer Flash animations that you can customise (anagrams, MCQs, dice). He added that these particular brands have places where you can share and find lots of excellent activities.

@prese1 finally said that Pelmanism can be a great game to play on IWBs

@antoniaclare said IWBs can be great with video and @bhrbahar added that, depending on the topic, clips can be useful for consolidation.

ELT activities
@eng4abetterlife asked if there is something particular to the IWB that is good for TESOL. @Marisa_C said that using something like Google streets for directions does work really well on an IWB and @tim_crangle added that you can teach prepositions by using the shapes, arrows etc provided with the board software. In regard to grammar, @dreadnought001 said that a teacher can have lots of useful boards (eg grammar, agree/disagree lang) ready to pull up when needed.

@tim_crangle pointed out that you can do interactive written work with Google drive if your class has computers, smartphones or tablets and project on the IWB.

@SophiaMav said that you can instantly find pictures to teach vocabulary and that there is no need for flash cards any more. @tim_crangle added that you can add sound to images by recording your voice naming the objects or by getting the students to record themselves.

Some other ELT-related activities include:

  • Reading eggs which can make learning to read effective and engaging for children (@bhrbahar)
  • Virtual tours field trips, e.g. The Google Art Project (SophiaMav)
  • A project for a website re-design in which the entire class is on IWB designing mock-ups, annotating pages they like and talking (@Wiktor_K)

Great debate bits

On teacher-centredness
@blairteacher argued that IWBs can encourage teacher-centred learning but @Shaunwilden disagreed by saying that this is an often cited myth and that a teacher-centred teacher will always be teacher-centred. @Wiktor_K also added “So does an ordinary whiteboard if teachers abuse it. It’s tech. It can’t encourage anything of itself, I think.”

On saving and reusing your work
@bhrbahar said that one of the most compelling features of an IWB is the ability to save your work, share it and re-use it to which @Marisa_C replied that this is good if you keep teaching the same lessons over and over again; however, @tim_crangle added that this feature allows you to “tweak” and improve previous lessons and adapt them more easily.

It’s the computer, not the board
As previously mentioned, @Shaunwilden argued that it’s not the board itself but the computer and the projector that allow all the learning opportunities, “the board is just a monitor and a mouse”. @SophiaMav agreed but said “it’s all in one place. No need to install or carry laptops from classroom to classroom”. @bhrbahar added that this is their function and as a result IWBs give the opportunity. @Shaunwilden answered that they do have all in one systems, but if the computer doesn’t work your board does not work either to which @bhrbahar agreed and added that an IWB is like a computer with a big screen.

On high cost
@dreadnought001 thought that the price had come down quite a bit but @Marisa_C said that locally you can’t get anything good in a decent size under 1700 or so euros and that you can’t just get ONE! @tim_crangle added that “you can’t afford to cut corners on quality – a board/computer/projector which breaks down is a total waste of time”.

Only one student at a time
The issue was raised by @CotterHUE who said that a limited number of students can work on the board while the others wait for their turn and might be distracted. @tim_crangle agreed but suggested “the robot technique” which means that you get one student to be the robot who is ordered by the other students, in this way everyone is involved.

Can the iPad be used as an alternative to an IWB?

Via proncone – flickr

@CotterHUE kicked off the discussion by asking “I never used an IWB, so how would an IWB differ from an iPad hooked up to a projector or screen?”

According to @tim_crangle an IWB is more interactive as you can get your students to write or interact on the board with what you are projecting. @CotterHUE disagreed by saying “How more interactive? Ipad uses video, pdfs, etc. Don’t have to print worksheets and can send work to all students by email”.

For @Shaunwilden the iPad is more interactive when used with Apple TV to which @tim_crangle agreed but said that “Apple TVs are another story”! @Wiktor_K also argued that buying an iPad and an Apple TV may also raise cost issues but @Shaunwilden said “not as much as a board! Apple TV less than a 100 quid, cheapest ipad 329 cheap projector 200 quid”. He also added that instead of Apple TV, teachers can use apps that turn your iPad into an IWB if linked to a computer e.g. such as doceri or reflector but in this case you need a computer. @CotterHUE also said that you can buy a cable adapter in lieu of pushing content to apple TV. But that would mean that you can’t walk around with an iPad.

@VSnack finally shared a link to a video that demonstrates how to transform any WB into an IWB and added that it’s a much cheaper solution.

@dreadnought001 wanted to know how using an ipad as IWB replacement works and whether it is awkward to write on it. @Marisa_C answered that you can type or use a stylus but @dreadnought001 thought that “styluses (styli?) are awful on the ipad”.

@CotterHUE offered a link to stylus for ipad and added that there are also loads of great apps. @Marisa_C said that she had never used a stylus but she can easily draw, type, screen record and email everything with Educreations App. She also uses it for error feedback. She explained that it’s like jing but you create as you record and save all your pages like an IWB.

@Shaunwilden added that he prefers screenchomp – a free app for creating and sharing short tutorials on the iPad. @Wiktor_K also suggested Penultimate – a handwriting app for iPad that allows you to easily take notes and save your work. It can be fully synchronised with Evernote and stylus works great with it.

He finally concluded that after tablets and gesture control (check Leap Motion) IWBs are not “the most interactive game in town”.

Most memorable tweets

  • @Marisa_C: So can I sit back and relax then …. we seem to have two opposing camps here – FOR & AGAINST – fun.
  • @dreadnought001: Don’t get the hostility to them, it’s like being angry at a tape recorder, it’s equipment, good teachers use it well, bad teachers don’t.
  • @CotterHUE: Sounds like IWBs offer few more bells and whistles but expensive.
  • @Marisa_C: Personally I don’t like publishers who just put out book pages on their software and call this innovation.
  • @Wiktor_K: IWBs are really worth it if they’re used by dedicated & creative teachers, I think. So I’m sure we shouldn’t give up on them!


As usual some great links were offered for further reading and consolidation:

Many thanks to moderators and ELTchatters 🙂

@Marisa_C, @Shaunwilden, @bhrbahar, @tim_crangle, @SophiaMav, @Wiktor_K, @CotterHUE, @prese1, @blairteacher, @SueAnnan, @dreadnought001, @antoniaclare, @eng4abetterlife, @blairteacher, @DWar, @MarjorieRosenbe, @eng4abetterlife, @VSnack @JennyJohnson10



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#ELTchat Summary: From Teacher to Teacher Trainer

Valentina Morgana by @vmorgana via eltpics

A couple of weeks ago, the seemingly popular topic of moving from Teacher (T) to Teacher Trainer (TT) was hotly discussed by the #ELTchatters. Entering into a New Year means reflecting on our future dreams or ambitions. This topic was proposed by Sharon Noseley (@shaznosel) as she felt she needed to reach out to her fellow chatters for their advice as on-line information offers courses and training but no real ‘concrete’ guidance.

Am I ready to be a TT ? What do I need in order to be a trainer?How can I judge if I’m ready?

So what did the experienced TTs have to offer the teachers who lurked and took in valuable advice that Wednesday night??

Qualifications & experience required

Most chatters referred to Marisa Constantinides very informative blog  ‘Oh, To be a Teacher Trainer‘! This blog mentions a quote from H.G Widdowson (1984):

“teachers need to be trained in practical techniques, but also must be educated to see those techniques as exemplars of certain theoretical principles…”

These words changed Marisa’s focus on teacher education and added a new perception of what training and educating classroom teachers meant. Similar reflections were added by the #ELTchatters.

There was a mix of opinion regarding formal qualifications; some believed an MA was essential to give the TT in depth knowledge in order to take the step from teaching learners EFL to training teachers of those learners.  Marisa_C & @SophiaMav said that there are universities that offer MAs with a Teacher Education focus e.g. The University of Warwick & The University of Manchester. @Marisa_C also added that one of the best courses for teacher development is Marjon’s in Plymouth, although this is not an MA. @Frances Eales shared the point that IH and BELL have courses for people with a wide variety of backgrounds and offer core skills and project work. Also, @evingiddens suggested World Learning/SIT Graduate Institute @SIT_TESOL_Cert offers a Teacher Trainer License.

MAs seemed a popular choice and @shaznosel informed the group that at the university she works for in the UK, she was told in order to get involved in TT at universities, a MA not just DELTA is required. @Marisa_C added that she prefers TTs with MAs because of the reading and the research this involves. So if you are considering this path, do remember that quite a few MA courses will also give you credit if you already hold the DELTA (@Shaunwilden).

@Shaunwilden said that there are so many different types of teacher training that there is not a one course fits all. It was clearly established by @elawassell  that DELTA is a minimum for Cambridge if u want to be a CELTA trainer – but they also ask for TT experience., which should include some indication that you had done workshops, observed etc. @dalecoulter asked what do they consider as ‘concrete’ training experience? Which was confirmed by @Marisa_C as documented because too many teachers add the title “teacher trainer” next to their name without any real experience. There are also those who started TT a few years back (no offence intended!) that had not done any formal teacher training. @MarjorieRosenbe, for example, has been doing teacher training for the last 25 years but didn’t do formal training.

So how can teachers actually gain experience to apply for a TT position?

@Marisa_C suggested that doing a workshop at a conference does not make you a teacher trainer; however, presenting  is a very good beginning  and she advised us to get started!! @MarjorieRosenbe advised teachers to stay in the classroom as it helps in teacher training. @dalecoulter suggested that working as a director of studies at summer camps was a good way for him to gain experience, as they include seminars, observations and feedback (w/criteria).

It seems a course and experience go hand in hand as @OztrkOzge pointed out she started her  MA after 2-year-teaching experience but courses made her wish that she had had more experience as the experienced teachers were much more successful.

@cuppa_coffee always thought that teacher ‘training’ was about techniques, methods and that “education” was about issues, context and evaluation. It was agreed that every situation is different and @seburnt summed it up by stating experience and qualifications are viewed differently in different contexts.

In the classroom by @SueAnnan via eltpics

Skills required and reflections of experienced TTs

The chat naturally progressed to the WHAT and HOW teachers develop the skills needed to train. The ‘what’ consists of the content to be shared and the importance of keeping up to date with new methods or approaches, technology etc. The ‘ how’  is an ever-changing process, knowing what works and what to ignore and finding effective ways to process  tasks and successfully deliver the core ideas to Ts . A number of issues were debated: How to plan teacher training courses? Observe lessons? Give feedback ? Resources? Locality? Culture? Time? Personality? Psychology?

@Shaunwilden asked the million dollar question: Can any teacher become a teacher trainer?

The ultimate response was NO!!

@Marisa_C made the point that TTs should have a wide and varied teaching experience plus the ability to develop trainee’s ideas, not their own, to which @eltknowledge added that in the beginning, it’s easier for a trainer to suggest their own ideas, but the skill is in helping trainees to develop their own.

@MarjorieRosenbe felt that qualities like understanding but setting limits would be a starting point for her; she also added that flexibility and openness are also at the top of the list. @dale coulter mentioned organisational abilities especially regarding the administration load and @DanielaArghir added that good organisational skills will help/let you concentrate on the actual training. @shaznosel believes you should be open to other Ts ideas and opinions and be able to “listen” to them. For @toulasklavou good TT should really love their job, learn from it and care about the trainees and for @Shaunwilden similar teacher skills are required for TT such as empathy, listening, understanding.

@kevingiddens added that mentoring and learning skills related to TT (positive regard/emotional intelligence) must be part of the process and @FrancesEales stated the need to to be able to deal with people tactfully but firmly. @Marisa_C also mentioned counselling skills, ability to analyse and support in a developmental rather than prescriptive way.

@Shaunwilden argued that lots of psychology is involved in TT, especially in the feedback stage and added that he found this a challenge when dealing with CELTA trainees for the first time. @shaznosel agreed that it must be difficult to tell someone their weaknesses and @FrancesEales added that you need to be emotionally and physically quite resilient to cope with people’s emotional stress. @Marisa_C totally agreed and added that she had trained a good number of drama queens !

Inspiration plays a role too…@Marisa_C mentioned the importance of being able to inspire one’s trainees and to have  outstanding class teaching presentation skills. @shaznosel added to this point that an inspiring TT means inspired teachers which means inspired ss!

@Marisa_C and @cuppa_coffee  discussed an interesting concept- the need to apply  Knowle’s model of Andragogy. Here’s a link to help understand this theory

@FrancesEales thought observation is the most challenging skill/art and is still learning how to do it better and ask for feedback from ‘trainees’. @Marisa_C added the importance of handling feedback that builds on trainee’s reflection and ability to improve rather than destroy. This led to a very important point, the teacher as a reflective practitioner

@cuppa_coffee argued that a good TT is a reflective practitioner, critical thinker, and coach and @DanielaArghir mentioned reflective Ts make good TTs to which @Marisa_C agreed; she added, however, that although more recent courses are good at producing reflecting teachers, this is not always the case. @rapple18 suggested that there’s a strong case for building on reflection as it seems to be more upfront in TT than class teaching. To which @Shaunwilden added “you’re right there is a helluva lot of reflection in TT”. @shaznosel finally said that if we were not reflective, nobody would be chatting on ELTchat, thus Ts who are motivated and passionate about teaching may want to move onto TT!

Advice and best practices

Road crossing signs by @sandymillin via eltpics

It seems obvious from the above comments that as a T considers Teacher Trainingas a career move, the T sets themselves apart from their fellow colleaguesand learners. This move depends on the culture and context of where the T works. so , back to the original question:

Are you ready to become a TT? How can you judge if you’re ready? Are you enjoying teaching? Are colleagues turning to you for advice ? Are you reading this summary? May be it is time to move on!

Some advice…

  • Staying in the classroom helps in teacher training. Plus,it is important as well, to try out methods in the classroom before training teachers to do them. Also  it is vital to establish rapport with participants in teacher training (@MarjorieRosenbe).
  • Teacher trainers should not impose their ideas on trainees but help them develop their own (@Marisa_C & @elttknowledge).
  • TTs need to be committed to continuous self-development, appreciate critical feedback and be able to act on it (@kevingiddens)
  • Learn about the laws in certain countries, there are things forbidden in certain institutions (@natibrandi).
  • Remember that you’re not dealing only with the language. Your trainees are not (only?) learners of language (@elawassell).
  • Videotaping can be as a great tool for feedback and reflection (@natibrandi, Marisa_C, @seburnt, @shaznosel, @eltknowledge). However, according to @eltknowledge it might be difficult to get trainees to agree to be videoed. @Marisa_C also added that it can be time-consuming to watch on the spot and shared that she nowadays tends to videotape snippets which can be emailed or upload for trainees to watch.


After almost an hour of frantic tweeting  and debate , some sound advice was begged for!

How can teachers get into teacher training? (@ shaznosel)

So you have all these qualities and qualifications, which doors do you knock and who’s willing to hear? (@Toulasklavou)

@Dalecoulter suggested that getting in contact with local teaching organisations and offering to do workshops can definitely help; for @Shaunwilden, getting involved in local events and being prepared to do some voluntary work would be a starting point to get experience. Finally @Marisa added that doing TT work for publishers can also be a great step to start a career in TT.

Teacher training is becoming a big industry with CELTA centres around the world training 12,000 candidates annually. But how can someone become a CELTA trainer?

@Marisa_C said that you can apply to be trained up as a CELTA trainer at any centre that accepts tutors in training but you need to pay for this; @Shaunwilder added that you also need to be a DELTA holder to become a CELTA trainer.

Clearly from our chat, TT is not to be taken lightly but can be rewarding and if this chat sparked an interest in you as a teacher then follow the advice and go for it. As @Noreen said “You can set your heart on whatever you want, as long as you work hard”.


As usual, some great links were offered. At last! Especially for those of us who have searched mindlessly on the net!! Some links proved to be direct and invaluable in terms of guidance and others proved humorous and allowed the T to think about such a big decision in their career..

Oh, to be a Teacher Trainer
How to move from being a teacher to becoming a teacher trainer
The roles of a TEFL teacher
Become an SIT trainer
World Learning SIT TESOL

Note: This summary was produced in collaboration with the amazing Sharon Noseley and was my first  #ELTchat summary ever. Dear Shaz, thank you for being so supportive and involved. I really loved working with you 🙂

About Sharon: Sharon has been teaching EFL to all levels and ages for the past seventeen years. She works in a Foreign Language School in Greece and starts her day with Pre-Juniors and ends it with the C2 or business classes.She teaches EAP at the De Montfort University in Leicester in the summer. She also enjoys  working as an oral examiner for the Cambridge and ESB examination boards. Sharon has completed her Module 2 and 3 of DELTA and is currently working on Module 1…this has taken her four years!! Which proves you can study whilst working and bringing up a family but you may need more time! Teaching is her passion and she would love to move into TT in the future, to share that passion!!


#ELTchat: every end is a new beginning




The following post was originally published by Marisa Constantinides on 10 August, 2012. It announces the loss of domain and I’m proudly reposting to spread the word.

I’ve been on #ELTchat for almost a year and I greatly admire and respect the dedication and enthusiasm of its moderators and fellow ELTchatters. Losing is undoubtedly a sad event but I’m sure #eltchat will be up and thrive on its new domain, After all, domains are just domains. It’s the creative force behind them that really matters.

Please, read and share:


#ELTchat: the loss of – Plan B

For the last – well, almost two years now, since September 15 2010, #ELTchathas kept us on our toes and forged hundreds of professional and personal relationships amongst its followers who turn up on Twitter every Wednesday to talk about topics they have suggested and voted on – a community of peers which was created by a small group of colleagues – which grew and grew some more and became something that counts as an important part of our continuous professional development.

Like many great ideas, it didn’t hit just one person but several.

And that is how #ELTchat was created.

The website to keep up the communication of its members, a base and repository of our ideas was one of the first things we all thought of creating – the wiki came later.

Andy Chaplin was keen to join the moderation team and help with podcasts and technical stuff; he was quick to buy and announced the good news to us after the fact.

A few months later, right after TESOL France 2011,  he suddenly disappeared – some say for reasons of health.

We never found out for sure.

We never received a single word of response to our emails. was and still is registered in his name.

And yesterday we lost it.

On August 8 the domain expired and we have no way of taking over unless it goes up for sale again; it was very sad that Andy Chaplin did not find it appropriate to renew.

The news is really upsetting.

The work we have put in on this website cannot be told in a few simple words – but it has been a labour of love and we have got so much out of it that we have never regretted one single moment

We are pretty upset at the behaviour of this individual – disappointment is one big understatement.

But we trust that our community of #ELTchatters, our PLN for short, will again gather round the new domain which we have purchased –

It will take us a few days to put the website back on its feet.

And all will be as it was before – all the posts in place all your thoughts and comments, all the polls and great summaries which got us on the shortlist of the ELTon Awards nominations.

We will be back with a vengeance.

We are not just a website – we did not get on the ELTon awards shortlist as just another website!!!

We are a great community of teachers and we have a Plan B!

See you all in September!!!

Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden

Sophia Mavridi

P.S. We would greatly appreciate it if any of you belonging to this great community of teachers,  teacher educators, bloggers, #ELTchat followers,  reposted this on your blog.

If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.