Sep 17, 2008

SynergyNet Project: Multi-touch tables and displays designed for education...

Rich White at Greenbush Labs is a strong supporter of interactive whiteboards and displays through his work with EduSim, an interactive 3-D virtual collaborative environment. Here is a link to one of his most recent posts about SynergyNet, a multi-touch table that is designed for use in education:

In the Classroom of the Future: Every Desk is an Interactive Surface

"SynergyNet will integrate ICT into the fabric of the classroom. The new desk with a ‘multi-touch’ surface will be the central component; the desks will be networked and linked to a main smartboard offering new opportunities for teaching and collaboration."

"Several students will be able to work together at a desk as the desks allow simultaneous screen contact by multiple users using fingers or pens. Durham researchers want to create a ‘natural way’ for students to use computers in class. The system encourages collaboration between students and teachers, and a move away from teacher-centric learning."

More about the SynergyNet project:

Smart desks make sci-fi a reality in the classroom

Research is underway at Durham University, located in the UK, to see how the interactive tables can support learning IT concepts. According to the SynergyNet project website, the goals of the research are as follows:
  • Aim 1: To create a radically new technology-rich learning environment that integrates with traditional classroom layouts and collective activities.
  • Aim 2: To design and implement a new form of user interface for educational multi-touch systems.
  • Aim 3: To formulate a new pedagogy that eases transition and movement between teacher-centric and pupil-centric interaction.
  • Aim 4: To analyse pupils’ learning strategies to inform fundamental research by capturing data as pupils use the SynergyNet environment.

"The system will also boost equal access in school. In IT, we have found that males have been the dominant actors - interactive classrooms will encourage more females to take part in lessons. It will also enable more disabled students to participate in lessons and allow more personalized learning." - Dr. Elizabeth Burd, Principle Investigator, Director of Active Learning in Computing

jME Physics - the open-source java-based physics engine used in the SynergyNet system

jMonkeyEngine - the open-source java-based game engine use in the SynergyNet system (the video below contains some clips from the SynergyNet project)

Pupils test multi-touch screens

(BBC Article)

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