Pupils Put Hi-Tech Learning Aid to Test; Team of University Academics Trials Interactive Tabletops

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Byline: Nicola Weatherall? 0191 204 3308 ? nicola.weatherall@ncjmedia.co.uk

EDUCATION experts have conducted the first study of interactive tables in the classroom, as part of a major trial to understand the benefits of groundbreaking technology on teaching and learning. A team of academics from Newcastle University trialled the new tables to see how the technology - tipped as the next big development in schools - works in real life and could be improved.

Interactive tables, also known as digital tabletops, work like an interactive whiteboard - a common tool in modern classrooms - but are on a flat table so students can work in groups around them.

Led by Dr Ahmed Kharrufa, a research associate from Newcastle University's Culture Lab, the team worked with students from Longbenton Community College, in North Tyneside, for six weeks.

They found that in order to make full use of the tables, the technology needed to be fully embraced by teachers.

He said: "Interactive tables have the potential to be an exciting new way of learning in the classroom, but it is important that the issues we've identified are ironed out so they can be used effectively as soon as possible.

"Collaborative learning is increasingly considered to be a key skill, and these devices will enable teachers and students to run group sessions in a new and interesting way, so it is vital that the people who make the tables and those who design the software to run on them, get this right now."

Increasingly used as a learning tool in venues such as museums and galleries, the technology is still relatively new to the classroom and had previously only been tested by children in lab-based situations.

Two mixed ability classes of pupils aged 12 and 13 were involved in the study, with groups of two to four pupils working together on seven interactive tables. …