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Interactive School Desks

Many teachers are trying to figure out how to make good use of their interactive whiteboards. Some schools are experimenting with iPhones and iPod Touches for student use.

But a college in England is moving on to technology that combines elements of both with a little lab management software tossed in.

They look like something out of Star Trek, and they might well land in a classroom near you. They’re school desks, but not as you know them, say their Durham University designers.

The interactive multi-touch desks look and act like a large version of an Apple iPhone.

“The new desk can be both a screen and a keyboard. It can act like a multi-touch whiteboard and several students can use it at once,” said Dr Liz Burd, who led the university’s Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) group that developed them.

“It offers fantastic scope for participatory teaching and learning,” she said.

Excuse me for being skeptical, but that’s one of the claims I’ve heard made for the whiteboards – and have yet to see.

And the few instructional examples noted in the article are pretty much the same as some of the very superficial whiteboard lessons I’ve observed.

So what will justify the $2,000US price tag (the expected cost after mass production begins) for these units?

Ok, the technology does sound very cool and I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to try it out.

However, if I had to predict what will make the biggest impact on learning in the future, it wouldn’t be this kind of interactive replacement for the school desk.

I’ll put my money on relatively inexpensive portable devices that allow learning anywhere instead of large, expensive machines that are fixed to one classroom.

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2 Comments

  1. Or you could just put commodity linux boxes under each desk a’la Indiana at a *much* lower cost.

  2. This definitely sounds like an interesting, interactive tool, but I agree that limiting it to a single classroom is not the best use of the technology. I am helping the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation start a blog on entrepreneurship and education. I am really enjoying your posts and plan to continue to reading and learning from your blog.

    Thanks,
    Julie

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