PUPILS have been given a glimpse at what classrooms will look like in the future thanks to pioneering technology being developed in Newcastle.
Called The Digital Mysteries programme, it uses state-of-the-art software to encourage secondary school students to work together and think creatively.
The technology has been designed by Newcastle University spin-out company Reflective Thinking and developed with help from teachers and pupils from Tyneside.
The hi-tech devices work like desktop interactive whiteboards and are set to be the next big advancement in teaching.
Digital Mysteries can also be used with existing school technology, with a PC multi-mouse version.
It is the brainchild of Ahmed Kharrufa, who came up with the idea while studying for his PhD at Newcastle, and it is being launched at Bett 2013, a showcase for technology in education, today.
The software sets the children a task, or mystery, and they then have to work collaboratively on the answers.
Using innovative tools to group ideas together, they can show the reasoning behind their answers. A special playback tool also allows teachers to look at how the pupils arrived at their answers.
Dr Kharuffa said: “Electronic tabletops are set to be the next big development in classroom teaching.
“They are a brilliant piece of technology but we wanted to create software which could use them to their very best advantage, helping pupils think independently, work together and come up with creative solutions to problems set by their teachers.
“Digital Mysteries does all this and we think it will be a useful addition to any classroom.”
David Leat, professor of curriculum innovation at Newcastle University, said: “The modern education system is very much geared towards children being taught in such a way so they pass their exams.
“What this means is that in the rush to get children to achieve good grades, a lot of creativity has been squeezed out of the classroom and pupils often don’t get the chance to think for themselves or develop a love of learning.
“Digital Mysteries combines the chance for children to use the very latest technology to inspire inquiry, creativity and a love of learning.”
The product has been developed with input from teachers and pupils from Longbenton Community College in North Tyneside.
They took part in the world’s first ever study of electronic tabletops in the classroom last year and the results of the research will be presented at the CHI 2013 conference in April.
Jon Foley, the school’s head of geography was involved. He said: “Students were impressed by the interaction and the hands-on approach of the smart tables.
“They were keen to explore the different functions that the table offered and this kept their interest and enthusiasm for the mystery exercise. They also appreciated the fact they could use the software to go back over resources and find out more about the mystery they were investigating.”
He added: “I think in the future smart-tables will go on to be an integral part of any school’s learning strategy involving ICT.”
To find out more about Digital Mysteries visit www.reflectivethinking.com
I think in the future smart-tables will go on to be an integral part of any school’s learning strategy involving ICT