Last updated: 09.05.13

Trial measures interactive learning technology

A study measuring the impact of interactive learning in classrooms has been carried out to discover the benefits of technology in education.

Academics from Newcastle University piloted a set of digital tabletops at Longbenton Community College for six weeks to understand how teaching could be improved with digital facilities.

Two year eight mixed-ability classes of children between the ages of 12 and 13 were involved in the trial and were divided into groups of two to four to work together on seven of the interactive tables. Five teachers with varying levels of experience were also required to deliver lessons using the devices.

According to Dr Ahmed Kharrufa, research associate from the university's Culture Lab and leader of the research, in order for pupils to be able to make full use of the tables, the technology needs first to be embraced by teachers.

He added that while interactive tables have the potential to be an exciting new way of learning in the classroom, "it is important that the issues we've identified are ironed out so they can be used effectively as soon as possible".

It was discovered the tabletops and software developed for use on them needs to be designed to increase teachers' awareness of how different groups are progressing.

The scientists also found educators should be able to identify which students are participating in - and therefore benefiting from - the activity, while it is also important for teachers to be able to freeze the gadgets and share examples of work with the whole class.

Mr Kharrufa remarked collaborative learning is increasingly considered to be a key skill and the tables will enable both teachers and students to run sessions in a new and interesting way.

"So it is vital that the people who make the tables and those who design the software to run on them, get this right now," he concluded.

The technology is still relatively new to schools and, prior to this study, had only previously been tested in lab-based situations.