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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy

Membership List | Publications | Research | Specialist Area List | Braided Learning Ejournal

Implementing ACTIVboard technology in South African schools

Linda Van der Loo

Year of posting: 2005


Promethean Ambassadors project


The background

The MirandaNet  Fellowship is an international organization of teachers, teacher educators, researchers, policy makers and companies who have been using New media to transform  teaching and learning since 1992. MirandaNet works in government and company projects all over the world.  MirandaNets latest project is World Ecitizens which aims to give students a voice on the web.  

(, www.


MirandaNet ran a project about the transformational qualities of Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) in the UK last year funded by Promethean The British Government is now investing heavily in this transformational tool.  MirandaNet are expanding this project into Mexico, China and South Africa. The Elearning Institute has been appointed the Research Partner for the project in South Africa.


About the Elearning Institute

The Elearning Institute was founded in 2003 by Linda van der Loo, an independent elearning advisor and consultant. Based on Linda's extensive "hands on" experience and thorough knowledge of the elearning industry, the Elearning Institute provides advice, consulting and coaching on elearning and learning.

The focus of the Elearning Institute is to optimise your elearning purchase by empowering the people in the elearning process.

Linda is a qualified teacher and is currently studying for her Masters Degree in Computer Integrated Education with the University of Pretoria.


About the Promethean Ambassadors project


Purpose of the project and purpose of the research

The research aims are to provide credible findings about using Interactive Whiteboards in three main areas of education:


The project

This is an action research project is for 2005 with potentially an extension in 2006.

Each school (St Mary’s Waverley and Auckland Park Preparatory School) received a free Interactive whiteboard with extensive software. Two teachers were nominated to participate in the project. The focus of the project is transformation and attainment in the classroom using Interactive whiteboards. The subject for projects relates to international citizenship although each school has negotiated an appropriate project that fits in with their school curricula. The project will be run on the World Ecitizens website which includes a gallery for children’s’ work and a safe virtual learning environment with a vast library of international citizenship resources for use.


The participating teachers received training on the Interactive whiteboard in London in January, as well as attended the BETT show. International workshops are also being held in the UK, Mexico, China and South Africa. There will also be support visits from UK teacher mentors and international video conferences for continuing professional development. Newsletters, forums and closed email links will support teachers in developing new professional practices.


Ideally the teachers need to have a laptop or desktop computer of their own.  ADSL or broad band connections at home and at school are really important. 


As part of the transformation plan it has been suggested, that one teacher implement the project in the classroom and the other teacher (typically a senior / leader in the school) plays a support role, focusing on the wider issues of embedding the use of Interactive whiteboards into the school development plan and promoting changes in teaching and learning.


Proposed Research themes:

1)      Impact on teachers – Transformation and Attainment

2)      Academic changes

·         Within the classroom

·         Analysing marks or grades pre- and post Interactive Whiteboard installation.  

3)      Between classes

·         A comparison between classes, where one class is taught using an Interactive Whiteboard and the other not.  

·         Compare the progression of students within each mark environment.

4)      Behavioural changes

·         Completion of behaviour observation sheets, by pupils and teachers, on both a pre- and post Interactive Whiteboard installation basis

5)      Affective changes

·         Asking pupils to write reflections on their learning and progress in relation to the deployment of Interactive Whiteboards

·         Asking teachers / educators to write reflections on their learning and progress in relation to the deployment of Interactive Whiteboards

6)      Investigating management methods for introducing Interactive Whiteboards through sound practice based research


Installing the Interactive whiteboards:

This was done towards the end of February. Training was also given on using the features of the board as well as the software. The training did not focus on education or any particular school subject; it was up to the teachers to develop their own teaching and classroom material.


What’s happened at the schools in 6 weeks?

First Projects – feedback from schools and pictures


Auckland Park Preparatory School (APPS)


Teacher interactions:

“Promethean Ambassadors” reported back to APPS staff at a staff meeting about their experiences in London and an impromptu informal ‘demonstration’ ON THE Interactive whiteboard followed. The Foundation Phase staff all expressed interest in and actually gave a ‘trial’ lesson on the Interactive whiteboard, guided by the Grade 1 teacher; this was quite unexpected and very rewarding.

A Promethean software demonstration was arranged after a staff meeting and at this meeting a more experiences staff member expressed concern that the whiteboards were not just another ‘educational thing’ to use.  She said that there were a few teachers feeling like her in that that actually did not know what to do.  All teachers were assured that the expectations were simply that they keep an open mind, ask questions, and play on the board and to upgrade their skills.  The demonstration went well and many aspects of the Promethean board were highlighted and the staff members, including the reluctant staff members, expressed great interest in the possible activities on the board.


Lesson examples:

·         The most important aspect has been that the staff members have themselves identified that they need to upgrade their IT skills and have set up workshops to do this. Wednesday afternoons at this stage are set aside for this training and whiteboard training.

·         A timetable has been set up for the use of the boards.

·         The two teachers involved in the Promethean Ambassadors project have identified the areas they will cover and have planned time schedules and lessons for this project.

·         The Grade 6 teacher continues to use the boards, daily, for Geography (Grade 5 – 7) and mathematics (Grade 6).  This means that all learners from Grade 5 to Grade 6 are exposed to the boards.

·         The Grade 5 teacher uses the board for Science, almost daily. At this stage more as PowerPoint presentations than anything else.

·         The Grade 7 mathematics teacher/Headmistress also uses the board for some mathematic lessons.

·         Numerous teachers have loaded the Promethean software onto their home computers or laptops and expressed a great interest in ‘playing’ around in the holidays.

·         A lack of time for planning and preparing lessons during term time is a real problem as many staff members are also involved in extra murals for the school. More lessons will need to be sourced, as well as staff members encouraged to develop their own lessons.

·         The learners are also using the boards more and more but usually for PowerPoint presentations.

·         An initial meeting has been set up between APPS and a less advantaged school in the area and the intention is to set up some sort of collaboration where many resources can be shared, including the whiteboard experiences. This will hopefully happen in Term Two.



Learner Feedback:

During the first term a small research project with the Grade Ones was attempted.   One class worked through a reading book in the conventional manner while the other did the same work using the Interactive White Board.  The Grade Six girls were involved in gathering evidence of the pupils’ sight word vocabulary, both ‘before’ and ‘after’ the lessons.  A questionnaire also set out to find whether the comprehension of the two groups differed. Again the Grade Six pupils were involved with the Grade Ones and we were able to ‘test’ pupils on a one-to-one basis. 

The results although not mind-boggling, did show that those that interacted with the whiteboard had better scores.  (See enclosed graphs)  Results however were not totally reliable.  (Some of the older girls did not follow the instructions for ‘testing’ to the letter but it did give an indication of how teaching and learning APPEARS to have improved.)


Future plans for the Grade 1’s


Spelling and reading will remain our priority.  Children will advance from three letter words to four letter words with beginning blends. (A normal progression in Grade One)  Hopefully by the end of term two, the pupils will be able to write and illustrated their own stories.  Stories such as the Gingerbread Man with repeated choruses will probably feature.   I have also prepared a lesson on growing seeds and will use this as a basis to growing our own seeds in the classroom and noting the progress and growth in these.  (A pity it is winter – this may need to wait until September for this).


Thanks to Karen Symons, Gail Rossini and Gill Barnard for their contributions




As per APPS Winzip file sent



St Mary’s Waverley

Teacher interactions:

·         Demonstrations to Senior School staff, Maths staff, Junior School staff, School Board of Governors, parents attending a school function.

·         Demo for Dominican Convent, St John’s College and Hyde Park High School

·         Individual training (hands-on training and assistance in putting actual lessons together)

·         English, Drama, Science and Sport staff


Lesson examples:

·         Maths: Angles (Right, Acute, Obtuse), Estimating size, Measurement with protractor, Angles in building/nature

·         English Poetry lesson, Dylan Thomas Bibliography, and “Do not go gentle into that good night”

·         John Keats – poetry, Graphics and sound clips “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, sourced off the Internet and annotated

·         Hamlet – using resource library material and annotations

·         The Tempest – using resource library material and annotating

·         Literary Essay – planning and constructing a literary essay using the strategies employed in hockey (hockey field from resource library, graphics of St Mary’s girls to move around field)

·         Computer Studies All theory lessons\Summaries and annotations Information Technology - Modern technologies and features of the Interactive whiteboard

·         Biology -Heart (using resource library material) Labeled and students to label

·         Snakes and Ladders -Primary School – using board and counters from resource library and virtual dice

·         Hockey -Strategy and positions – using hockey field from resource library, graphics of our own girls to move around on the field

·         Other lessons simply using the IWB as a “write-on” resource with the added facility of being able to “flip” back to previous pages and to save.


It is important to point out that the Headmistress teaches her English lessons using the Interactive whiteboard.


Learner Feedback:

·         The students have been excited by the technology

·         They are eager to volunteer to participate in the lesson and to use the IWB themselves

·         It has energized lessons – both from the student concentration span and participation

·         They enjoy having a say in the background colours and pen colours used

·         They like the fact that if they have missed something in the lesson, or have missed the lesson, they can access the material on the intranet.

·         Generally they love being taught in the auditorium, using the IWB


Future plans:

·         Increase the number of staff using the Interactive whiteboard

·         Offer support in use of the board and preparation of lessons to more staff

·         Install more boards in both the Junior and Senior School


Thanks to Jenny Ketley for her contribution


As per the St Mary’s WinZip file sent


It needs to be pointed out that this project is still in its formative stages. As it is a research project no predications can be made, however whatever the research outcomes, the benefits if Interactive whiteboards in schools cannot be underestimated. It is anticipated that the research will contribute to our general understanding about the process of teaching and learning using Interactive whiteboards and ICT.

We intend to publish project updates on a regular basis, be it through this magazine or the websites mentioned. For further information please contact Linda van der Loo at or 083 675 4416

MirandaNet Members can go to the Log on/off area to edit their own casestudies.

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