Academics back use of interactive tables

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Education experts believe interactive tables offer “an exciting new way of learning” in the classroom. Also known as digital tabletops, interactive tables work like interactive whiteboards but the technology is on a flat table, enabling students to work i

Academics from Newcastle University have now carried out the first study of interactive tables in schools and although largely positive about the technology they have also identified key issues that need to be addressed.

The team trialled the tables for six weeks at Longbenton Community College in Newcastle upon Tyne. Five teachers used the tabletops to teach two mixed-ability classes of year 8 students, with groups of two to four pupils working together on seven interactive tables.

The researchers found that the tables were most effective when teachers used them as part of the lesson, rather than as the focus.

But they said that the tables and the software used on them should be able to show how different groups are progressing, as well as identify which students are participating in activities and which are not. 

Teachers should also be able to over-ride stages of a programme and have the ability to freeze the tabletops and share examples of work with the whole class.  

“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,” said Dr Ahmed Kharrufa, a research associate from Newcastle University’s Culture Lab. 


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