In the mind and in the technology: the vicarious presence of the teacher in pupil’s learning of science in collaborative group activity at the interactive whiteboard
Kleine Staarman, Judith
Computers & Education
The focus of research into the use of the interactive whiteboard (IWB) in the classroom has been largely in relation to teacher–pupil interaction, with very little consideration of its possible use as a tool for pupils’ collaborative endeavour. This paper is based upon an ESRC-funded project,1 which considers how pupils use the interactive whiteboard when working together on science-related activities. It provides an analysis of video and other data from science lessons in UK Years 4 and 5 primary classrooms (pupils aged 8–10 years). Concentrating on a series of lessons constructed by three (out of 12) of the project teachers, together with their written and spoken commentaries, it takes each set of lessons as a case for study and comparison. This paper focuses in particular on the nature of the ‘vicarious presence’ of the teacher evident in the group interactions at the board. We address the following questions: How is the teacher’s vicarious presence evident in the work of pupils at the interactive whiteboard? How does this presence influence the behaviour of pupils engaged in science activities? In this account, we suggest that the teacher remotely mediates the activity of the pupils at the board in two specific and interlinked ways. Firstly, the vicarious presence of the teacher seems to be in the minds of pupils, enabling them to appropriate and use introduced rules and procedures, in this case in relation to group talk. Secondly, it is in the ways in which the constructed task environment on the IWB guides and mediates the pupils’ actions, enabling them to connect with, interpret and act upon the teacher intentions for the task. Here, the teacher’s vicarious presence is in the technology. We conclude that the IWB can provide both a tool and an environment that can encourage the creation of a shared dialogic space within which co-constructed knowledge building can take place. However, this only occurs where there is active support from the teacher for collaborative, dialogic activity in the classroom and where the teacher is able to devise tasks that use board affordances to promote active learning and pupil agency.
Vol. 55, Issue 1, pp. 350 - 362