Interactive Classrooms Use Interactive Desks!

Dennis Faas's picture

When you think of an "interactive classroom" what are the first images that pop into your head? Is it a classroom filled with computers? Interactive activities shared using a smartboard? Teacher-led discussions being conducted via podcasts?

While some of the above items have been adopted into modern classrooms already, a coalition of researchers at Durham University (UK) calling themselves the TEL (Technology-Enhanced Learning) Research Group have aspired to redefine the concept of an interactive classroom, with the recent introduction of the first available multi-touch student desks.

Think of it as an oversized Apple iPhone.

Students situated in an interactive classroom will be able to manipulate a giant multi-touch device from their very own seats, while new software and technology will allow these desks to be linked with others in the classroom including the main teacher-controlled smartboard. (Source:

The desks will act as both a screen and keyboard, while Internet applications will create the ability for students to research assignments without having to get up from their seats.

The idea for the multi-touch desks (called "SynergyNet" Desks) came about after months of observing the interaction shared between students and teachers. The team soon discovered that cooperative learning was at the forefront of every lesson, while the different abilities of every student initiated a new problem for the team to address.

TEL is now hoping that SynergyNet Desks will encourage the participation of students who may have previously been reluctant to share their ideas based on a lack of confidence. Also, teachers can continue to encourage differentiated learning by adapting different lessons that can be sent wirelessly and privately to each student's desk. (Source:

Analysts are interest to see just how long it will take SynergyNet Desks to spread nationwide. TEL is estimating that it will only take 10 years before every desk in America has multi-touch capabilities.

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