Researchers at Durham University found from three-year project involving 400 children that multi-touch, multi-user desks can boost skills in mathematics. Researcher Emma Mercier said the desks help pupils “find a range of solutions to arithmetic questions”. They act like multi-touch interactive white boards so that several students can use any desk at once and that makes it is easier for students to collaborate on finding solutions to problems. Also classroom teacher gets a live feed of the desks and can intervene if any pupil get into trouble.
The Durham University team designed software and desks that recognize multiple touches on the desktop using vision systems that see infrared light. The project called SynergyNet set out to integrate a fully collaborative system of desks, building it into the fabric and furniture of the classroom. The new desks with a ‘multi-touch’ surface are the central component, and these are networked and linked to a main smartboard.
Lead researcher, Professor Liz Burd added “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. This classroom enables both active engagement and equal access.”