IWB-supported video communication in primary ELF

My colleague Euline Cutrim Schmid at the University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd and I have been working on task-based telecollaborative projects with primary school teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) for a number of years. We have used IWB technology to allow live exchanges between pupils in French and German primary school classes in English as a lingua franca (ELF). Learners use an audio-video link and screensharing to complete information gap tasks in groups or in front of the whole class in the local classroom. Some children move objects on a page in a shared IWB file in response to information provided orally by remote speakers. A German learner may describe a funny animal with a crocodile’s head and an elephant’s body, while French listeners drag and drop the appropriate body parts to create the animal, for example, or a French “shopkeeper” will collect items from supermarket shelves to serve a German “customer.”

A task-based approach to video communication with the IWB

myles-tan-84040Myles Tan

In our first study, we asked:

  • How can an IWB support VC exchange between remote partners involving young learners?
  • What types of materials, activities and teaching techniques seem to
    promote effective learner–learner exchanges?
  • What light is shed on this communicative situation by teachers’ and learners’ views?

And we concluded:

This study has shown that it is both possible and worthwhile for young beginners to engage in live peer communication, and that IWB-supported VC interaction offers a promising platform for this type of exchange. The analysis of transcripts of video extracts provides an impressive picture of how the teachers were able to orchestrate an extremely complex set of interactions to support their learners in the planned tasks. Each of the three examples examined in the study shows how many different local interactions were required in each classroom in order for the central dialogue between French and German learners to unfold in ways that were useful for both the active learners and those observing. Even in this first familiarization session, the teachers were able to manage the technology, both the VC equipment and the IWB software, the different configurations of learners, and the ID card task itself. In so doing, they never intervened directly in interactions and rarely provided models or translated for their learners. It is remarkable that, even in these initial exchanges with so many other concerns, there are examples of learner–learner interaction supported only by the task materials.

This leads us to the second research question concerning materials and activities. This study suggests that while the design of task-based activities is important, balancing Cameron’s cognitive and language demands with appropriate support, her third aspect, interactional demand, may require more attention. The learners in the study seemed to lack communication strategies for dealing with interactional breakdowns, and the participants in general needed to focus on the task itself and collaboration with their interlocutor, rather than on other issues such as a language learning point or a technical detail. Nevertheless, the participants were positive about the experience.

Investigation of the third research question revealed that both teachers and learners found the exchange motivating and useful, with both groups also providing ideas and goals for future sessions.

Regarding technology, it is common in ICT studies to call for more technical support, teacher training, and familiarization sessions with technology in order to iron out recurring technical problems, and help teachers to implement effective learning activities that exploit the most appropriate affordances of our ever-evolving technological environment. Such measures are clearly helpful, if not always forthcoming. It is worth considering, however, whether this understandable desire to master the technological context and make the most of its potential to support learning might not lead teachers to overorganize and micromanage interactions, to the detriment of learner autonomy.

Whyte, S., & Cutrim Schmid, E. (2014). A task-based approach to video communication with the IWB: a French-German primary EFL class exchange. In Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.). Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. London: Bloomsbury.

Teaching young learners with technology

biegun-wschodni-8636Biegun Wschodni

In the next iteration, we focused on both design and implementation of tasks with the aim of balancing support for learners to complete activities with space for spontaneous language production.

This chapter has shown that new technologies can offer opportunities for meaningful language-learning experiences through authentic tasks.The various task-based activities described here illustrate the potential of technology to allow interaction with speakers who do not share a native language and to provide scaffolding to support this interaction. However, the chapter has also demonstrated that simply using new technologies does not guarantee, or even enhance, new meaning making. Our analysis of classroom interaction and teachers’ and learners’ perspectives has shed some light on a number of important aspects of technology use with young learners.

First, while the project tasks were perceived as more authentic and interactive than traditional activities, teachers and learners also expressed the desire for even greater learner-centredness, allowing opportunities for pupils to use language creatively and experiment with language. The majority of project tasks imposed a tight framework that often prevented this type of language interaction, suggesting that an important challenge with young learners is the balance between adequate linguistic and emotional support and space for learners to create. Second, in early sessions, the unfamiliar environment and technological limitations led to greater teacher mediation; by later stages of the project, the learners developed communication strategies and skills which allowed them to act more autonomously. This pattern corresponds to the implementation dip (Fullan 2001) noted earlier, and may reflect a positive effect of the teacher support in context and over time also reported in previous studies (Hennessy and London 2013, Whyte et al. 2013).

This chapter has discussed various advantages of using new technologies with young learners in the FL classroom, through the description and evaluation of technology-enhanced activities that were perceived as motivating, meaningful and productive. It calls for a stronger focus on task design and task implementation in technology-rich learning environments. Further research needs to be done on the design of technology-enhanced tasks that provide a framework for supporting young learners’ language production, while at the same creating room for the development of learner autonomy and self-directed learning.

Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (2015). Teaching young learners with technology. In Bland, J. (Ed.). Teaching English to Young Learners. Critical Issues in Language Teaching with 3-12 year olds. Bloomsbury.

Classroom technology for young learners

Annie Spratt

We later summarised our experience with these exchanges as follows:

Primary pupils aged 7 to 9 in Germany and France used English as lingua franca to interact with the remote class in three collaborative tasks: making ID cards, a supermarket exchange, and a breakfast invitation. Participants saw the tasks as authentic and relevant in design, but in early stages of the project, the actual implementation of these tasks did not sufficiently encourage learners to use their own resources. Transcriptions of the first CMC interactions showed high levels of teacher mediation in learner-learner exchanges. In later phases, the teachers made efforts to help learners develop communication strategies to negotiate meaning and repair communication breakdowns on their own.

Similarly, both teachers and pupils felt the planned tasks imposed a tight framework which prevented spontaneous use of language, and so later phases of the project aimed to allow more open activities. Thus, in preparation for one of the supermarket sessions, 15 German learners showed and described the content of their lunch boxes without preparation, using any linguistic resources at their disposal. Since the learners had not prepared or practiced in advance for the activity, they could not rely on memorized chunks, but had to adapt language on-line during interaction. An important challenge with YELLs is thus the balance between adequate linguistic and emotional support, on one hand, and space to create on the other.

Whyte, S., & Cutrim Schmid, E. (in press). Classroom technology for young learners. In Garton, S., & Copland, F. (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners. Routledge. 2018.


Teaching languages with technology: 2 reviews

9781623569334Two reviews of our edited volume on communicative language teaching with the interactive whiteboard (IWB):

Davidson Devall, K. (2015). Review of the book Teaching Languages with Technology: Communicative Approaches to Whiteboard Use. The Modern Language Journal, 99(4).

Guichon, N., & Merlet, E. (2016). Critique : Teaching Languages with Technology: Communicative Approaches to Whiteboard Use. Canadian Modern Language Review / Revue Canadienne des Langues Vivantes, 72, 1, 284–286 doi:10.3138/cmlr.72.1.284

Preview on Google Books

These reviews focus on different aspects of this collection of case studies from the iTILT project on the integration of the IWB in classroom foreign language teaching. Both pick up on Colpaert’s reminder in his foreword to the book that technology is only one aspect of the learning environment, and go on to highlight the pedagogical dimension of technology integration, and from there to teacher education concerns. Davidson Devall sees the potential of the volume to inform action research in IWB-supported language teaching, and for language teacher education with technologies other than the IWB, while Guichon and Merlet underline the importance of progressive appropriation of the technological and pedagogical affordances of digital tools.

This post offers some short quotations from each review, followed by a summary of some of our recommendations for teacher development given in the final chapter of the book.

Davidson Devall (2015)

This review in the Modern Language Journal considers its implications for teacher education “even in contexts different from those in the book,” that is, beyond the primary school classroom which is the focus of several chapters, and beyond the IWB itself.

As Colpaert states in his Foreword, “What makes IWBs [interactive whiteboards] very interesting is their unique position in the technological spectrum: on the one hand they feature a specific set of limitations and affordances, but on the other hand they easily fit within many learning environments as one piece of the puzzle” (p. xii). The editors of this volume seek to encourage further research and material development efforts for the interactive whiteboard by presenting specific applications and opening a dialogue for discovery learning amongst instructors and students.
As evident from the title, the book is intended for teacher education and development. The overview of the development of technology- enhanced language learning as well as pre- and post-reading reflective questions for each chapter provide excellent support for implementation in a pedagogical methods course.
the criteria for designing materials structured by Cutrim Schmid and Whyte could be helpful for use with other interactive technologies as they touch on “methodological principles,” “pedagogical activities,” “learner engagement,” “tools and features,” and practical considerations” (pp. 245–248).


Guichon & Merlet (2016)

This review is in French and appears in the Canadian Modern Language Review. It notes that the book aims to suggest avenues for pedagogical exploitation of the IWB based on research rather than simply promote this tool, and that one of the most interesting aspects of the volume lies in the recommendations in the final chapter for the training of teacher educators.

D’emblée, que ce soit par le biais de l’avant-propos de Jozef Colpaert qui déclare que « no technology, not even the [Interactive Whiteboard] , carries an inherent, direct, measurable and generalizable effect » (p. xii) ou dans l’introduction de Shona Whyte qui prend le soin d’ancrer la réflexion dans l’approche par tâches, le lecteur est assuré que l’objectif de cet ouvrage n’est pas de faire la promotion d’un outil, mais de proposer des pistes d’exploitation pédagogique d’une manière critique et informée par la recherche et les données empiriques.
L’un des aspects les plus intéressants de cet ouvrage est qu’il fournit des axes pour guider la formation de formateurs à l’utilisation du TNI dans la classe de langue (c’est d’ailleurs l’orientation du dernier chapitre). L’enseignant, dont le rôle primordial est rappelé, est invité à s’engager dans une réflexion pédagogique, cherchant à impliquer réellement ses apprenants dans les interactions. Est ainsi souligné avec acuité l’importance du processus de l’appropriation de l’outil qui ne peut se faire qu’en se donnant le temps de l’expérience et en mettant en place des projets de formation par étapes. Le processus de formation gagne à inclure des phases de réflexion, personnelle ou collective, à partir de pratiques de classe contextualisées et répondant aux besoins et à la réalité des enseignants désireux de s’approprier le TNI comme un nouvel élément de leur environnement et de leur répertoire pédagogiques.

Supporting teacher education for technology integration

In Chapter 8, our conclusion to this edited collection, we propose the following principles for teacher education.

Principles and guidelines for IWB-supported language teaching practice

In work on teacher professional development elsewhere, we suggest a number of principles for the design and implementation of IWB training (Cutrim Schmid & Schimmack, 2009; Cutrim Schmid & Whyte, 2012; Whyte et al., 2013). This section will review these recommendations in light of the findings presented in this book. The present volume includes studies of IWB teacher training courses in Belgium and Turkey, which revealed interesting aspects of the challenges and complexities involved in such endeavors. Other chapters have also dealt with this topic indirectly, since all studies contained an element of reflective practice, a component of continuing professional development in both informal and institutional settings.

Although most of these principles apply to the majority of technology professional development contexts, the examples given to exemplify the guidelines are drawn from IWB-based studies. This will help readers understand how these principles can be applied to their specific context. We suggest five key principles to inform the design and implementation of IWB training programmes.

4.1 Pedagogical framework based on theoretical foundation

IWB training programmes should have a sound theoretical basis and a clear pedagogical framework.

All chapters have emphasized the value of IWB professional development rooted in established language learning theory. From this perspective, the affordances of the technology with respect to teaching goals constitute the best starting point for an attempt to understand the potential of the IWB. The first question teachers should ask is not “What can I do with an IWB in my language lesson?” but rather “How can I use the IWB to support language learning?”

4.2 Contextually embedded professional development

IWB training programmes should focus on teachers’ immediate pedagogical needs and be embedded in the work teachers actually do.

In most chapters, the participating teachers reflected on IWB use that was embedded in their own practice. The pre-service teachers in chapters 3 (Kegenhof) and 4 (Sailer) worked in tandem with practicing teachers, but their reflection is based on the materials they developed and the lessons they designed and implemented in this collaborative context. This approach allowed teachers to experiment with ways the IWB could support and enhance teaching, thereby gaining a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of this technology.


4.3 Reflective practice

IWB training courses should create opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice.

All studies presented in this book include an element of reflective practice, since participating teachers and teacher researchers were involved in critical reflection
through various means. The insightful discussions and recommendations provided by the participating teachers and teacher researchers in this volume underline the value of reflective practice as a powerful impetus for professional development, confirming much earlier work in this area (e.g. Mcniff, 1988; Bartlett, 1990; Wallace, 1998; Allwright &
Lenzuen, 1997).

4.4 Professional collaboration

IWB training courses should create opportunities to establish professional contacts and undertake collaborative projects.

Several chapters in this volume have dealt with the relationship between collaboration and professional development. Chapters 3 and 4 report on research projects within a larger professional development program for pre-service EFL teachers involving school-based research projects where pre-service teachers design, implement, and evaluate technology-enhanced EFL lessons in collaboration with in-service teachers (Cutrim Schmid & Hegelheimer, 2014). This type of professional collaboration has been widely recommended in the CALL literature to encourage the all-important integration of theoretical with procedural knowledge (e.g., Meskill et al., 2006).

4.5 Ongoing support for professional development

IWB teacher training courses should provide teachers with enough opportunities for gradual accumulation of knowledge and experience within their constraints of time and energy.

Although the majority of studies described in this volume do not have a longitudinal design, several authors emphasize the importance of providing teachers with the opportunity to construct knowledge gradually with the support of peers or trainers. In the area of materials design, we propose a list of 38 criteria for IWB-mediated teaching resources, organized in five main areas, which may be useful for teachers and trainers in developing and evaluating their own teaching materials.

Regarding classroom interaction, we suggest and illustrate a four-level interaction/interactivity framework which can inform the analysis of IWB-supported language teaching.

We believe that the language teacher plays a primordial role in effectively integrating IWB use in the language classroom, hence the priority given to high quality teacher education. Similarly, without attention to interactional opportunities both as these arise in instruction and through the careful planning of teaching materials, much effort devoted to IWB integration simply goes to waste. As Colpaert notes in his foreword,

“IWBs cannot generate a learning effect on their own, but they are indispensable cornerstones for creating powerful learning environments.”

We hope our contributions in this final chapter, together with the rich and varied classroom case studies in this volume, can inform and inspire language teachers throughout the world to make the most of this potential.



Allwright, D. and Lenzuen, R. (1997), ‘Exploratory practice: Work at the cultura inglesa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’, Language Teaching Research, 1, 73-79.

Bartlett, L. (1990), ‘Teacher development through reflective teaching’, in J.C. Richards and D. Nunan (eds.), Second Language Teacher Education. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cutrim Schmid, E. and Hegelheimer, V. (2014), ‘Collaborative research projects in the technology-enhanced language classroom: Pre-service and in-service teachers exchange knowledge about technology’. ReCALL, 26(03), 315-332

Cutrim Schmid, E. and Schimmack, E. (2010), ‘First Steps towards a model of interactive whiteboard training for language teachers’, in Thomas, M. and Cutrim Schmid, E. (eds.), Interactive Whiteboards: Theory, Research and Practice. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, pp. 197-214.

Cutrim Schmid, E., and Whyte, S. (2012), ‘Interactive whiteboards in state school settings: Teacher responses to socio-constructivist hegemonies’, Language Learning and Technology, 16, (2), 65-86.

McNiff, J. (1988), Action Research: Principles and Practice. London: Routledge.

Meskill, C., Anthony, N., Hilliker, S., Tseng, C. and You, J. (2006), ‘Expert-novice teacher mentoring in language learning technology’, in P. Hubbard and M. Levy (eds.), Teacher Education in CALL. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 283-298.

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck Thompson, S. and Oberhofer, M. (2013), ‘Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project’, Computer Assisted Language Learning, (ahead-of-print), 1-27.

Wallace, M. (1998), Action Research for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Materials design: criteria for IWB-supported language teaching

Criteria for IWB-supported language teaching

There appears to be a clear need for a design framework that focuses specifically on IWB materials for language teaching. In response to this need, we have developed a set of criteria for the design and evaluation of IWB-based language learning materials.


These criteria were developed during the teacher training and data collection phases of the iTILT EU project, and refined during the analysis and interpretation of the findings. These guidelines are intended to support teachers in their use of the IWB as an effective tool to integrate digital technology in the regular language classroom and in particular to
a) enable the visualization and apprehension of concepts
b) facilitate engagement with and understanding of complex notions, and
c) enhance interaction and collaboration among learners.

Our materials design criteria for effective IWB-supported language teaching are divided into five key areas: methodological principles, pedagogical activities, learner engagement, tools and features, and practical considerations.


1. Activities involve a communicative purpose, as opposed to decontextualised language practice
2. Materials promote learning by doing as opposed to lecture content
3. Grammar materials promote focus on form (learning in a communicative context) rather than abstract rules
4. Materials create opportunities for learners to assess their own performance without teacher intervention
5. Materials allow learners to demonstrate understanding and help teachers to evaluate learning
6. Materials include opportunities for teachers to provide feedback on learners’ production
7. Materials promote learner interaction and cooperative and/or collaborative learning activities



1. Activities have a clear language learning objective; they are not only designed for enjoyment
2. Activities are designed around genuine or potentially real-life contexts which have meaning for learners
3. Materials include task-like activities such as exchanging information or solving problems and have a clearly defined outcome.
4. Materials provide linguistic and/or cognitive support to help learners understand input
5. Materials provide linguistic and/or cognitive support to maximise learners’ language production
6. Materials include resources which offer rich input for language learning
7. Some activities may allow for learner differentiation and individual choice
8. Some activities create opportunities for negotiation of meaning (e.g., information gap)


1. Materials include topics and activities which are likely to motivate learners
2. Opportunities are provided for learners to make their own contributions to activities
3. Learners’ class contributions can have an impact on how the lesson unfolds
4. Materials allow adequate space for learner experimentation and discovery, or inductive learning
5. Some activities provide space for displaying and/or discussing learners’ work
6. Some activities include links to external learning resources or other ICT tools which learners can access outside class
7. Some activities model effective learning strategies which learners can use in other contexts
8. Activities are appropriate to the age and language proficiency of learners



1. The materials include audio, visual and/or tactile input to support teaching and learning
2. Pages and files are not overloaded with too much information or too many different stimuli which may overwhelm learners
3. IWB tools (e.g., spotlight) and features (e.g., drag and drop) are used to support physical interactivity with the IWB
4. IWB tools and features are used to support cognitive interactivity with learning content
5. IWB tools and features are used to support social interactivity between the teacher and learner(s) or between learners
6. IWB tool and feature use allows the teacher to make complex input comprehensible to learners
7. Fonts, images, colours and other elements are easily readable and esthetically pleasing
8. An appropriate balance between objects embedded in the file before class and actions required of learners during class is respected



1. The materials represent an efficient use of teacher time in terms of preparation versus classroom use
2. Instructions are included which allow other teachers to quickly understand the intended learner level, objectives, and implementation of activities
3. Only resources which are free from copyright restrictions are included in the materials
4. Files load correctly and all links and interactive elements work as intended
5. The level of technological sophistication of the materials is appropriate to the technology available in class (connectivity, equipment, software)
6. Materials include some low-tech alternatives for use in case of technical problems (e.g., connectivity)
7. The use of the IWB brings a clear added value to the activities proposed and all activities cannot easily be carried out without an IWB.

Adapted from Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.). (2014). Teaching Languages with Technology: Communicative Approaches to Interactive Whiteboard Use. London & New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. Chapter 8.

iTILT training: French participants

An iTILT teacher training session at a primary school in Antibes, near Nice, this month involved primary teachers and teacher trainers involved with language education and technology training, as well as newly-qualified secondary EFL teachers.
Training materials included

  • the pilot version of the iTILT training manual, with its focus on task-based language teaching (TBLT)
  • the iTILT website, with

    • practice examples (video clip, description, participant commentaries, related clips, tags)
    • quick/advanced search functions, manuals in several languages, and sample IWB teaching resources
  • new video training materials developed in collaboration with our German iTILT partners in Schwäbisch-Gmünd.

We explained that this second iTILT project uses the same approach to teacher education, involving class films, learning focus group interviews, and video-stimulated recall session with participating teachers.  However, based on the first project’s results, we now have a focus on a new objective:

  • How can we encourage more interactivity and interaction in the IMG_1467foreign language classroom?

The goal is thus to consider not tools, but rather pedagogical factors.

During our review of the first iTILT project activities and findings, we examined two video examples in particular: the magic schoolbag (primary EFL, FR), hotel furniture (vocational French, DE).

The new project involves a teacher who was also part of the first one: here we see her in the same classroom at the same board as she used in iTILT 1.

The French project teachers are working on video communication in English as a lingua franca using class sets of iPads (primary) and iPods (secondary) to exchange short videos with partner classes abroad, as well as some live videoconference sessions.

In keeping with our goal of developing TBLT approaches, the focus is on developing activities which include

  • emphasis on making meaning and exchanging messages
  • an information gap or other cognitively challenging premise
  • the opportunity for learners to use their own linguistic resources
  • a particular outcome for each task.

Implementing and researching technological innovation

Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching

The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools

Shona Whyte
Print Pub Date: April 2015
Online DaIMG_0004te: April 2015
Language & Linguistics Collection 2015
Series: New Language Learning and Teaching Environments

Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching takes a case study approach to investigate the integration of the interactive whiteboard (IWB) into the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in French schools. The study highlights the advantages of collaborative action research for stimulating and supporting language teachers in innovative experimentation, and seeks to enhance our understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in this process. Utilising a framework which can inform further research into innovative practices with other interactive technologies, this book offers a research design and instruments suitable for assessing classroom adoption of the IWB. In this way, the study provides insights into general processes of technological innovation in language teaching and learning which is of relevance to further research and teacher development in today’s new learning environments.

TOCThe blurb and table of contents should give an idea of the focus of my book on teacher integration of interactive whiteboard (IWB) technology in the language classroom. I followed 9 French EFL teachers (4 primary, 2 lower and 2 upper secondary, and 1 teacher educator) during the iTILT project (itilt.eu).

IMG_0010I used a collaborative action research framework (Burns, 2005) and drew on situated learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991) and teacher efficacy theory (Bandura, 1993). [References available in the bibliography on the Palgrave page.] The book proposes a developmental model to describe and explain how different teachers used the IWB to fit existing practice in some cases, and to implement innovation in others.

Hopefully some of this work will be useful in our new European project Interactive Teaching in Languages with Technology (iTILT 2); we are following up on our successful IWB project using other technologies with the same team working in Belgium, France, Germany the Netherlands, Turkey and Wales.


Interactive whiteboards in foreign language education: the story so far

Over the past three years, my involvement in the EU lifelong learning project iTILT (interactive Technologies In Language Teaching) has provided an opportunity to investigate the potential of the interactive whiteboard (IWB) for language teaching and learning. As associate professor in the English department at the University of Nice in France, I teach EFL, train pre- and in-service primary and secondary language teachers, and research questions of second language acquisition and teaching.  Different aspects of this professional context have led to my interest in learning technologies in state school language classrooms, particularly in relation to interactional opportunities for learners, and professional development for their teachers.  Our project on the IWB for communicative language teaching has allowed me to research these issues from both learner and teacher perspectives.

Designing IWB-mediated teaching activities

The IWB is a sophisticated piece of technology which can be used fairly intuitively by technologically fluent teachers and is compatible with any teaching style (cf Gray, 2010, for modern foreign languages).  Yet its potential for interactive teaching is often under-exploited in the classroom, because

IWBs are deceptively complex and to fully utilise the interactive aspects of the technology, teachers must invest time to build confidence, design resources, adapt practices and learn to harness their power.

(Hennessy & London, 2013, p. 66)

In order to train our teachers in the iTILT project, we designed task-based materials to support communicative activities at the IWB for learners at a variety of different levels and ages. We created IWB files to support complete teaching units, based on a series of communicatively oriented activities to promote interaction in the target language as well as reflection on language in a meaningful context, all with respect to a final task in accordance with the principles of task-based language teaching (TBLT).  Each file included teacher notes with guidance on pedagogical objectives as well as technical information, to encourage a focus on good teaching practice rather than on narrower technological issues.  We then used these materials to train our project teachers to exploit the IWB in their own teaching contexts (Whyte, Cutrim Schmid & van Hazebrouck, 2011; see sample materials).

When we collected classroom examples of teaching activities using the IWB, however, we found that many of our teachers did not follow this pedagogical approach, and that many sample activities showed neither communicative nor task-oriented intent. Among the nine French teachers whose lessons were video-recorded for the project, for example,

only two teachers designed and implemented a significant proportion of task-oriented activities. The majority of video examples of IWB-supported classroom language teaching more closely resembled pedagogical exercises with a focus on decontextualised language practice and error correction.

(Whyte & Alexander, 2014, p. 22)

Using the IWB in the language classroom

A closer look at the activities selected by teachers for the iTILT project website – some 267 three-minute video clips from 44 language classrooms in 7 European countries – gave us further insights into their IWB-mediated teaching practice.  In terms of language teaching objectives, for example, we found a balance across different countries, languages, and proficiency/age levels between the teaching of the four main linguistic competences (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and subskills (grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation).  We also found

a greater focus on listening, speaking, reading and writing (but also vocabulary) with younger learners in Wales, France and Spain, as opposed to more attention to sub-skills and culture with older, university learners (grammar and culture in Belgium and the Netherlands, and grammar and vocabulary in Turkish universities).

(Whyte, Beauchamp & Alexander, 2014, p. 43)

In fact the single most common teaching objective among the primary teachers in the project was vocabulary (seen in 25% of Welsh clips, and 26% of French).  For secondary teachers in Spain and Germany speaking was the preferred objective (24% and 34% respectively), with grammar for the secondary and university teachers in Belgium and the Netherlands (27%) and Turkey (49%).  Many iTILT project teachers were therefore using the IWB for somewhat conservative teaching objectives involving the learning of the words and rules of the target language, as opposed to broader, interactional objectives such as understanding spoken language or producing written texts, for example.

In a similar vein, we found that many teachers used a restricted set of IWB tools and features in their lessons.  Specific IWB features include tools like the pen, eraser, spotlight or curtain, and functionalities such as drag and drop, hide and reveal, or embedding multimedia resources.  Many video examples featured images or links to websites, and basic actions like drag and drop to rearrange objects on the display.

A third aspect of IWB use which we investigated was participant access, or who controlled the IWB.  Critics of the IWB often cite its potential for encouraging teacher-fronted pedagogy:

In the classroom, there will generally be specific learning goals, devised by the teacher, and this can result in the teacher exerting complete control over the board in its role as classroom hub, leading to the conclusion that the board can be a ‘teacher-centric’ tool (Wall et al. 2005) which encourages teachers to teach ‘from the front’ (Smith 2001).

(Beauchamp & Kennewell, 2013, pp. 180-1)

In our project, however, three quarters of the video examples of IWB-mediated language teaching selected for the iTILT website showed learners using the IWB, rather than teachers.  Only in Belgium and the Netherlands was the balance of examples in favour of teacher-led activities.

This finding confirms an earlier analysis of pre-training questionnaires administered to all project teachers.  In that study, we compared teachers’ reports of their confidence in using the IWB (and ICT in general) with their reported practice. (We use the term self-efficacy, of which more below).

Despite low levels of IWB self-efficacy, the teachers indicated that they still allowed their learners to use the IWB. This suggests that a perceived lack of self-efficacy in IWB technical skills does not necessarily prevent them from conceptualising the importance of the IWB for teaching and learning, or deter them from allowing learners to use the IWB.

(Hillier, Beauchamp & Whyte, 2013, p. 17)

Nevertheless, in the Whyte, Beauchamp & Alexander (2014) study, we also note that almost four out of five of the frequently observed learner-centred examples of IWB teaching involved a single learner or series of individual learners at the IWB (160/201 video clips).  This means that instead of organising pair or group work at the IWB, for example, the teachers maintained control of IWB access in whole-class teaching by designating individual learners to manipulate the IWB.

Generally speaking, these findings tend to confirm the results of another preliminary report on the IWB in language teaching, based on our analysis of early data from a subset of iTILT teachers.  This study involved eight French and Welsh primary practitioners and compared video examples of those teachers’ IWB-mediated practice with secondary data including participant commentary and questionnaire responses regarding ICT and IWB use. The paper concludes thus:

First, teachers are not particularly comfortable using the different tools and features of the board, irrespective of length of experience with the IWB and in spite of confidence in general ICT skills.  Second, it shows a somewhat conservative or cautious approach to IWB use for language teaching, with teachers  focusing on a limited repertoire of basic functions such as dragging and dropping images to fulfil relatively circumscribed language learning objectives (vocabularly, pronunciation, receptive skills), often with a teaching method involving an individual learner working at the IWB before the class.

(Whyte, Beauchamp & Hillier, 2012, p. 325)

More details regarding these findings are given in Whyte, Beauchamp and Alexander (2014), and examples of the different types of IWB use in language teaching can be accessed via the iTILT website’s quick search feature.

Pedagogical innovation and teacher development

One explanation of our findings regarding teachers’ choice of teaching activities, and use of the IWB in general, can be found in the literature on the integration of interactive technologies in education.  A number of studies have traced the different stages of teacher development from a novice approach to the IWB as a “blackboard substitute” with little interactivity, to “synergistic” levels of “enhanced,” “conceptual” interactivity, as shown in this graphic (Whyte, Cutrim Schmid, & Beauchamp, 2014; see also Whyte, 2014).

TargetLanguageInteraction.001 TargetLanguageInteraction.002

(Whyte, Cutrim Schmid & Beauchamp, 2014)

On these scales, many of the teachers in the iTILT project would place in earlier stages of development near the bottom of the charts.  More interactive use of the IWB might involve, for example, the accommodation of greater spontaneity: Hennessy and London (2013) quote Gillen et al. (2007) thus:

the effective use of IWBs involves striking a balance between providing a clear structure for a well-resourced lesson and retaining the capacity for more spontaneous adaptation of the lesson as it proceeds.

(Hennessy & London, 2013, p. 66)

This brings us to the question of pedagogical innovation, since exploiting the full potential of the IWB seems to require the language teachers in our studies to change the way they design and implement teaching and learning activities in the classroom.  Teachers may be influenced in their approach to integrating interactive technologies by their own beliefs about teaching and learning with technology, and by other elements of their professional contexts.

Teacher beliefs

One approach to studying the influence of people’s beliefs on their behaviour involves Bandura’s notion of self-efficacy.


Self-efficacy is described as:

people’s beliefs about their capabilities to exercise control over
their own level of functioning and over events that affect their lives

(Bandura, 1993, p. 118).

Among the nine French teachers who participated in the iTILT project, some showed high levels of confidence in their ability to use the IWB to improve learning, and declared their intentions to further explore the potential of the tool.  In interviews with researchers, different practitioners said:

  • I like technology and so it’s true it’s something that naturally attracts me. I find that it does offer tools and can enrich all our classes a lot and open up opportunities for variety and for creating interactive situations. There are still lots of possibilities that I still have to explore because it’s true that you learn progressively and extend your range.
  • English is the only subject where I do workstations. When I use the board in French or mathematics it is collective. It’s interactive but whole-class. And I am thinking for next year – because every year I change something – and perhaps in mathematics one day every week I’ll do work stations in mathematics.

Others expressed some frustration:

  • The problem is to find enough time to create IWB files and to try new ideas.

We readily understand that those teachers who value the affordances of the IWB and who are keen to develop their IWB skills are more likely to make changes in the way they teach.  Conversely, teachers who doubt the value of the IWB – or technology in general – for language teaching are less likely to pursue opportunities for pedagogical change, as the examples in the following section show.


In work in teacher education in EFL, Borg has documented the influence on teaching practice of teacher cognition:

the beliefs, knowledge, theories, assumptions, and attitudes
about all aspects of their work which teachers have

(Borg, 1999, p. 22)

A number of the French iTILT teachers expressed reticence about the role of ICT in general, or the IWB in particular.  These comments are illustrative:

  • I think that, you know, the kids of today with all these screens, I think we should have a bit of perspective. A ‘screen’ is also, you know, something you don’t want to see, right? You hide behind a screen. We have to be very careful.
  • It’s obviously a very big defeat for the classical idea of learning by rote, learning pattern drills.
  • It’s a fabulous tool but I feel it’s more a toy for me and the children than something that’s really essential.

Contrast with the following, very different type of caveat:

  • The IWB isn’t the most important thing, it’s the notion you want to get across. And the IWB is a tool. You should start with ‘What do I need to do pedagogically?’ and then ‘Now I’ll use the IWB.’ Don’t say, ‘I’m using the IWB and I’ll throw in some activities.’ It’s a tool, not a end in itself.

Teachers’ beliefs may be developed individually based on previous experience, but may also change through collaboration.  One approach to studying collaborative development is based on Lave and Wenger’s (1991) notions of situated learning in communities of practice.

Situated learning

Situated learning can be defined as:

the acquisition of practical skills and knowledge in the context in which they are used, from members of the group concerned, and without intentional, formal instruction in abstract terms

(Whyte, in press)

Through their involvement in the iTILT project, the French teachers formed a community of practice in the sense of a rather informal group with a shared purpose and task, allowing for peer-to-peer rather than hierarchical exchanges, and the possibility for differing levels of engagement, and involving learning in context, yet also in informal settings (Whyte, in press, Chapter 4).

Asked in group discussion how the project had influenced their practice, the teachers responded thus:

T1:  I think it’s helped us to get a lot of perspective on how we teach. To do with our class organisation, teacher-centred delivery, all that. And that has made us think.
R:  So nothing to do with the tool, it’s the pedagogy?
T1:  It’s having worked in this project.
T2:  You could have come and filmed us and we could have analysed our teaching practice. But here it was in a project with a website, so it was less demanding.
T3:  That wasn’t what we thought at the beginning. We didn’t say ‘OK this is going to  help me analyse my teaching.’ Not at all. That came after.
T1:  Yes, and we were able to put it into context to because there were lots of us, different nationalities, different people to see, different ways of teaching. Something that in our professional careers we don’t have to chance to see.

This exchange hints at the value of informal learning in encouraging innovative teaching in relation to technology adoption.

Teacher education research in the CALL classroom

A final dimension to consider in the present overview of this longitudinal research project on the integration of the IWB into teaching practice involves the wider implications for research in technology-mediated language teaching, and perhaps for applied linguistics more generally, teacher education, and educational technology.  A number of conclusions can be advanced:

First, as the discussion above might predict, we found that those teachers with greater technological fluency and self-efficacy beliefs, and who were ready to set their own professional development agenda, were more likely to implement pedagogical innovation in their technology-mediated teaching (Whyte, in press).

Second, as other studies have shown (e.g., Guichon & Hauck, 2011), pedagogical concerns need to take precedence over technological questions. Indeed, the pedagogical issues related to IWB use discussed here share many common features with other tools and devices, such as task design, materials preparation, and the implementation of activities. These questions go beyond the specificities of the IWB, and are of direct relevance to the classroom use of tablets and smartphones, for example.

Third, our work has shown the advantages of a collaborative action research approach where teachers are actors rather than subjects of classroom research (Burns, 2005).  It has also developed a number of research instruments for the investigation of technology use in the classroom (Whyte, Cutrim Schmid, van Hazebrouck & Oberhofer, 2013; Whyte, Beauchamp & Alexander, 2014; Whyte, in press).  In this way, research from the iTILT project prepares the ground for further research into the interactional opportunities which different interactive technologies can provide in the hands of committed practitioners in a supportive environment.


Bandura, A. (1993) Perceived Self-Efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.

Beauchamp, G. (2004). Teacher use of the interactive whiteboard (IWB) in primary schools – towards an effective transition framework. Technology. Pedagogy and Education, 13, (3), 327-348.

Beauchamp, G. and Kennewell, S. (2010). Interactivity in the classroom and its impact on learning. Computers & Education, 54, 759-766.

Beauchamp, G., & Kennewell, S. (2013). Transition in pedagogical orchestration using the interactive whiteboard. Education and Information Technologies, 18(2), 179-191.

Borg, S. 2009. Teacher cognition and language education. London: Continuum.

Burns, A. (2005). Action research: An evolving paradigm? Language Teaching, 38(2), 57–74.

Gillen, J., Kleine Staarman, J., Littleton, K., Mercer, N., & Twiner, A. (2007), A Learning Revolution? Investigating Pedagogic Practice Around Interactive Whiteboards in British Primary Schools, Learning, Media and Technology, 32(3). 243-256.

Glover, D., Miller, D., Averis, D. and Door, V. (2007). The evolution of an effective pedagogy for teachers using the interactive whiteboard in mathematics and modern languages: an empirical analysis from the secondary sector’, Learning, Media and Technology, 32, (1), 5-20.

Gray, C. (2010). Meeting Teachers’ Real Needs: New Tools in the Secondary Modern Foreign Languages Classroom. In Thomas, M. & Cutrim Schmid, E. (Eds.), Interactive Whiteboards for Education: Theory, Research and Practice. Information Science Reference, Hershey, NY, 69–85.

Guichon, N. & Hauck, M. (2011). Teacher education research in CALL and CMC: more in demand than ever. ReCALL, 23(3): 187-199.

Hennessy, S., & London, L. (2013). Learning from International Experiences with Interactive Whiteboards: The Role of Professional Development in Integrating the Technology (No. 89). OECD Publishing. PDF

Hillier, E., Beauchamp, G., & Whyte, S. (2013). A study of self-efficacy in the use of interactive whiteboards across educational settings: a European perspective from the iTILT project. Educational Futures, 5 (2) [PDF]

Jewitt, C., Moss, G. and 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.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Smith, H. (2001). Smartboard evaluation: final report. Kent County Council.

Wall, K., Higgins, S., & Smith, H. (2005). ‘The visual helps me understand the complicated things’: pupil views of teaching and learning with interactive whiteboards. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 36(5), 851–867.

Whyte, S. (in press). Implementing and researching technological innovation in language teaching: a case study of interactive whiteboards for EFL in French schools. New language learning and teaching environments (Series editor: Hayo Reinders.) Palgrave Macmillan, April 2015.

Whyte, S. (2014). Theory and practice in second language teaching with interactive technologies. In Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. Bloomsbury. [link]

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. PDF

Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Alexander, J. (2014). 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. [link]

Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Hillier, E. (2012). Perceptions of the IWB for second language teaching and learning: the iTILT project. In L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds.), CALL: Using, Learning, Knowing, EUROCALL Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, 22-25 August 2012, Proceedings (pp. 320-6). © Research-publishing.net Dublin 2012. doi: 10.14705/rpnet.2012.000074

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., & Beauchamp, G. (2014). Analysing target language interaction in IWB-mediated activities: from drills to tasks in state secondary EFL classes. EuroCALL Groningen. slides

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., & van Hazebrouck, S. (2011). Designing IWB Resources for Language Teaching: the iTILT Project. International Conference on ICT for Language Learning, 4th Edition. Simonelli Editore  [Download PDF]

iTILT project


Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) (2014). Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. Advances in Digital Language Learning and Teaching (Series editors: Michael Thomas, Mark Warschauer & Mark Peterson). Bloomsbury. [link] table of contents

Linguapolis, University of Antwerp
  • Euline Cutrim Schmid, Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch-Gmünd, Germany
  • Sanderin van Hazebrouck, Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg, Germany
  • Julie Alexander, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice
  • Shona Whyte, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice
  • Gary Beauchamp, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales
  • Emily Hillier, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales.

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.
  • Digregorio, P., & Sobel-Lojeski, K. (2009). The effects of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) on student performance and learning: A literature review. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 38(3), 255-312.
  • Futuresource Consulting (2012). Interactive displays quarterly insight: State of the market report, Quarter 2, Futuresource Consulting.
  • Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Gillen, J., Staarman, J. K., Littleton, K., Mercer, N., & Twiner 2, A. (2007). A ‘learning revolution’? Investigating pedagogic practice around interactive whiteboards in British primary classrooms. Learning, Media and Technology, 32(3), 243-256.
  • Gray, C, Pilkington, R, Hagger-Vaughan, L and Tomkins, SA. (2007). Integrating ICT into classroom practice in modern foreign language teaching in England: making room for teachers’ voices. European Journal of Teacher Education, 30 (4), 407-429.
  • 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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k49chbsnmls-en
  • 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. http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/802
  • 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.