Whiteboards versus chalkboards

One of my grad students alterted me to this article, “Some professors won’t give up chalk for technology’s sake.” Two interesting passages:

“Chalkboards were a simple, brilliant invention,” (U of Minnesota professor Tom) Walsh said. “Whiteboards are not an advance.”

Not so, argues Steve Fitzgerald, director of classroom management at the university’s Twin Cities campus. Electronic equipment in classes with blackboards have to be cleaned twice as often, and rooms with chalk dust cost more to clean.


And, the blackboard-whiteboard squabble might soon be overtaken by technologies that will eclipse both, said Diana Oblinger, vice president of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving technology in classrooms.

The competition: computer-generated slide presentations, which already have a foothold in classrooms, to advanced three-dimensional imaging with interactive features that are years away.

I don’t think blackboards/chalkboards or whiteboards are going to go away anytime soon as the result of the new technologies, much in the same way that books aren’t disappearing because of computers. That’s obvious, and other folks in this article say as much.

I do have kind of mixed feelings about whiteboards, though. We have a whiteboard in the computer lab that I teach in all the time, and I have two problems with it. First, it’s quite old, and there’s some kind of finish or coating on the board that has worn off over time. The effect is it’s hard to get the thing even remotely clean. Second, we rarely have whiteboard markers that aren’t all dried out, and what’s worse is no one throws away the old markers. So sometimes, I end up trying two or three different markers before I find one that actually writes clearly. (Of course, I too am one of the offenders who doesn’t dispose of the dried up markers).

Of course, chalkboards are a problem too since chalk is quite frequently in short supply.

One thought on “Whiteboards versus chalkboards”

  1. I find it odd that you don’t like the whiteboard. I teach adult education in a technology center where I used whiteboards all the time. Since I move from classroom to classroom, (Part-time instructors do not get their own classroom unlike full-time instructors.) I have to carry my own markers because the full-time instructors will lock theirs up. At first I did have a problem with the smell of the markers, but since the new low odor ones came out I been those instead. My markers will last me about 6 to 9 months depending on the color. I tend to use darker colors the most since they are easy to read from the back of the room. I have bad allergies so chalk is out of the question for me. I guess it is a matter of taste then??? I like the new smart whiteboards and I really want one for my class. These boards allow you to use a computer attached to a projector that is pointed to the whiteboard, and you can use the whiteboard like you where at the computer. The projector shows the computers desktop on the board, so all you have to do is touch the board to make things happen. Also you can write notes and even save the notes and print them out for the class. But then I guess it is because I work at a technology center, and we have to keep up with the technology.

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