The role of digital artefacts on the interactive whiteboard in supporting classroom dialogue

Authors

  • S. Hennessy

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 8PQ, UK
      Sara Hennessy, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ, UK. Email: sch30@cam.ac.uk
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Sara Hennessy, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ, UK. Email: sch30@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

This paper explores how the interactive whiteboard (IWB) might be harnessed to support student learning through classroom dialogue. This powerful and increasingly prevalent technology opens up opportunities for learners to generate, modify, and evaluate new ideas, through multimodal interaction along with talk. Its use can thereby support rich new forms of dialogue that highlight differences between perspectives, and make ideas and reasoning processes more explicit. The emerging account builds upon Bahktin's conception of dialogue and Wegerif's notion of technology ‘opening up a dialogic space for reflection’, but foregrounds the role of mediating artefacts. Classroom dialogue in the context of IWB use is construed as being facilitated by teachers and learners constructing digitally represented knowledge artefacts together. These visible, dynamic, and constantly evolving resources constitute interim records of activity and act as supportive devices for learners' emerging thinking, rather than finished products of dialogue.

This primarily theoretical account is illustrated with examples from case studies of UK classroom practice. Analysing lessons in sequence has illuminated how teachers can exploit the IWB through cumulative interaction with a succession of linked digital resources, and through archiving and revisiting earlier artefacts. The tool thereby helps to support the progression of dialogue over time, across settings and even across learner groups. In sum, the article reframes the notion of dialogue for this new context in which students are actively creating and directly manipulating digital artefacts, and offers some practical examples.

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