Star trek desks: Classrooms for the next generation?

LONDON Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:35am IST

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists designing and testing what they hope might become the classroom of the future have found that "Star Trek"-style multi-touch, multi-user desks can boost children's maths skills.

A three-year project with 400 eight to 10-year olds found that using interactive "smart" desks can have benefits over doing maths on paper, and that pupils are able to improve their fluency and flexibility in maths by working together.

"Our aim was to encourage far higher levels of active student engagement, where knowledge is obtained by sharing, problem-solving and creating, rather than by passive listening," said Liz Burd of Britain's Durham University, who led the study.

The research team, whose findings were published in the journal Learning and Instruction, designed software and desks that recognise multiple touches on a desktop using infrared light vision systems.

The desks are built into furniture of the classroom to help encourage more collaboration, and are networked and linked to a main smartboard. A live feed of the desks goes directly to the teacher who can intervene quickly to help a pupil while allowing group work to continue.

Burd's team found that 45 percent of pupils who used a maths programme on the smart desk system increased the number of unique mathematical expressions they created, compared with 16 percent of those doing it on paper.

Using the new desks helped children work together and solve problems using inventive solutions, the researchers said.

"We found our tables encouraged students to collaborate more effectively," said Burd. "Such collaboration just did not happen when students used paper-based approaches."

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Paul Casciato)

Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

ENTERTAINMENT

Reuters Showcase

Photo

Vodafone Tax Case

India's Vodafone decision eases tax worries for Shell, others  Full Article 

Facebook Earnings

Facebook Earnings

Facebook tops Wall Street revenue target in 4th quarter.  Full Article 

Japanese Hostage

Japanese Hostage

Islamic State said to set new deadline for hostage swap  Full Article 

Cricket World Cup

Cricket World Cup

Batting holds key for team India in World Cup  Full Article 

Photo

Australian Open

Serena fends off Keys to book blockbuster Sharapova final   Full Article | Related Story 

Road To Development

Road To Development

Build better roads in developing world to bolster food supplies - study  Full Article 

Photo

Laser Pioneer Dies

Laser's co-inventor, Nobel laureate Charles Townes, dead at 99  Full Article 

New ODI Record

New ODI Record

Sri Lanka's Sangakkara breaks ODI record for dismissals  Full Article 

Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya refugees say traffickers in Malaysia abuse and kill.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage