Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


In recent times there has been a significant increase in the use of interactive whiteboard (IWB) technology in NSW school classrooms. The upsurge of IWB technology has resulted in the expectation of major changes in educational settings, however, the literature indicates a different reality, suggesting that IWBs have not been used to their potential (Fitzallen, 2005; Kent, 2006; Kervin & Jones, 2009) with some papers suggesting the technology has been somewhat mislabelled (Burden, 2002; Lee & Boyle, 2003).

The purpose of this inquiry was to explore the ways that IWB technology has been implemented in NSW primary schools within literacy-based learning experiences. Specifically, it sought to examine the ways that primary teachers (K–2) use IWBs in connection with their literacy-based pedagogical practices. Potential participants were contacted through hierarchical order, starting with regional directors, in order to identify principals who, in turn, were asked to identify teachers. Ultimately, three K–2 teacher participants were identified based on specific participant criteria and recruited from three different NSW Department of Education and Training regions. The conceptual framework of Activity Theory (Engeström, 1996) was used to investigate the use of IWBs by the teachers, as their individual approaches to teaching, pedagogical beliefs and views on the role of technology on students’ learning were examined. The individual, classroom and school contexts were considered.

To enable in-depth exploration of the issues concerning the use of IWBs by K–2 teachers, a case study approach (Yin, 2003) was adopted. Accordingly, four methods of data collection were employed: semi-structured interviews with teachers and principals; classroom observations of literacy-based teaching/learning experiences (including audio, visual and photographic recordings); the collection of artefacts (including IWB-created material and student work samples); and semi-structured discussions with teachers following classroom observations.

The findings reveal how teachers’ use of IWB technology was supported within their whole-school and professional contexts. The findings highlight the extent to which IWBs were incorporated within the teachers’ pedagogical design and delivery of literacy learning experiences. Further, through the lens of Activity Theory and cross-case analyses, the findings identify critical components that contribute to effective use of IWB technology for literacy teaching and learning. These include: expectations of teacher use of IWB technology; teacher confidence with IWB technology and teacher training; access to IWB technology; resource availability and the technology affordances and literacy pedagogy these resources represent; the tension(s) between IWB use and pedagogical practices; the structure and sequence of literacy experiences; and, teachers’ pedagogical goals.