Feeds

Schools look beyond the electronic whiteboard

Fun ideas and technology

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

The BETT exhibition in London's Olympia this week is stuffed to the gills with companies showcasing how their particular brand of technology can transform education, help students achieve more and relieve pressure on teachers.

Some technology on display is administrative: for example Bromcom is there showing off its wireless pupil registration system, and we saw electronic payment systems for canteens, useful, the company said, to avoid embarrassing kids who have free lunches. Other companies want to get students using laptops to do homework, or teachers to use tablet PCs to run their lessons.

What most of it has in common is that it is about using IT as a replacement for existing systems: where there pencils and paper, now there is a keyboard; where there was a pin board, now there is a web portal; chalk and duster have made way for electronic whiteboards.

While implementing technology to support teaching and learning in these areas is useful, nothing really innovative has been done.

Not so at the Nesta Futurelab stand. Nesta is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Its Futurelab division acts as a coordinating point between people with technology expertise, and people with really different and interesting ideas about how technology could be used in teaching and learning.

For example: how would you approach teaching kids about lion behaviour? You'd sit them down with a slide show and a video maybe, get them to do some multiple choice questions, possible a bit of reading comprehension? Or would you give them all PDAs and send them off into the playground to pretend to be lions.

Nesta's project Savannah takes the latter approach. The children's PDAs simulate a virtual savannah mapped onto their school playing grounds. This environment comes complete with charging elephants and other prides competing for the space. As well as the savannah, there is a den, where children can plan their strategies, and think about how they will survive as lions.

A Nesta representative explained: "When the kids are confronted by an elephant, the system asks them what they would like to do. The immediate answer is always that they, as lions, will attack and eat the elephant. They learn very quickly that a lion won't win a fight with an elephant."

Another Nesta project is Moovl, a freeform drawing environment where the artists (primary school kids) can assign physical characteristics, like heaviness and friction, to their drawings. You can play with it online, and read more about it here.

Nesta's role is to get these projects to prototype stage, test out ideas with children and teachers, and put together plans that can be picked up by other companies. "We are not competing with all these guys" Nesta's rep told us, indicating the other exhibitors. "We are just trying to get some really good, innovative and fun ideas together about how technology can change education." ®

Related stories

Ruth Kelly: transforming teaching with IT
BETT hosts finals of F1 in Schools design challenge
DfES wants school kids spaced out
UK.gov in scrap over school e-register patent

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.