The IWB for EFL in France A Technological innovation framework

header2Digital Literacies: in and beyond the L2 classroom. Hybrid symposium on research and practice. CERCLL, University of Arizona, Tucson.


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Much recent research in digital technologies for language learning and teaching involves virtual environments, often the investigation of informal digital practices (e.g., Gee, 2003) or the replication or amelioration of face-to-face classroom practices through digital media (Levy, 2009). The physical classroom environment may be neglected, particularly traditional school settings where many are first exposed to foreign languages. Yet the language classroom is also a locus of ongoing technology-mediated transformation, driven by both new technologies and new constructivist models of learning. This presentation focuses on the integration of one such technology, the interactive whiteboard (IWB), in communicative and task-based language teaching.

The IWB is a somewhat controversial technology (Digregorio & Sobel-Lojeski, 2009; Gray et al., 2007) whose detractors fear a reinforcement of teacher-centred practice and favour newer mobile technologies. However, IWB penetration is widespread in many English-speaking countries and rising across Europe* (Futuresource, 2012), and this tool can constitute both a stepping stone and a digital dashboard for the integration of other devices and media (Cutrim Schmid & van Hazebrouck, 2010; Whyte, 2013). As is often the case, both teacher education and research are lagging behind the trend, leaving open questions concerning the IWB’s techno-pedagogical affordances with respect to language teaching and learning, and the best ways to support teachers in integrating this technology (Cutrim Schmid & Whyte, 2014; Hennessy & London, 2013).

This presentation reports on a case study of nine French teachers of primary, secondary, and university EFL and TEFL classes in a collaborative action research project aimed at developing technical and pedagogical competences for IWB-mediated teaching. Drawing on research into teacher perspectives as well as IWB-supported interactivity (Gillen et al., 2007; Jewitt et al., 2007), this mixed methods empirical study combines analyses of video examples of IWB-mediated activities with participant commentary obtained via video-stimulated recall interview, focus group discussion, and contributions to an online community of practice.

The results reveal a range of teacher responses to IWB integration, supporting a “slow-burner” view of technology uptake and providing a new framework for language teacher development including technical, pedagogical and reflective dimensions which are of relevance to the wider CALL and digital literacies community.

* 85% of UK classrooms were equipped with IWBs in 2012, with a figure of 94% projected for 2016; for Australia the figures are 53% and 63%, the US, 47% and 60%. In Europe IWB use also continues to rise with the Netherlands and Denmark moving from one half to three quarters of classrooms equipped over the same period, and France from 10% to 16%.


  • Cutrim Schmid, E., & Van Hazebrouck, S. (2010). The interactive whiteboard as a digital hub. Praxis Fremdsprachenunterricht, 2010(4), 12-16.
  • Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S., (Eds.) (2014). Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. London: Bloomsbury.
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  • Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
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  • Hennessy, S. & L. London (2013). Learning from International Experiences with Interactive Whiteboards: The Role of Professional Development in Integrating the Technology. OECD Education Working Papers, No. 89, OECD Publishing.
  • Jewitt, C., Moss, G., & Cardini, A. (2007), Pace, Interactivity and Multimodality in Teachers’ Design of Texts for Interactive Whiteboards in the Secondary School Classroom. Learning, Media and Technology 32 (3), 303-317.
  • Levy, M. (2009). Technologies in use for second language learning. Modern Language Journal, 93, 769–782.
  • Whyte, S. (2013). Orchestrating learning in the language classroom: the IWB as digital dashboard. Babylonia, 2013(3), 55-61.
  • Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2014). Implementing tasks with interactive technologies in classroom CALL: towards a developmental framework. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40 (1), 1-26.
  • Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Alexander, J. (in press). Researching interactive whiteboard use from primary school to university settings across Europe: an analytical framework for foreign language teaching. University of Wales Journal of Education, 17, 30-52.

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