Feeds

Schools look beyond the electronic whiteboard

Fun ideas and technology

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?