November 3, 2008 Over the past two decades the role of computers in classrooms has evolved from one of curious optional-extra to core learning tool, and it's not a trend that is about to slow down. One relatively new technology that has great potential within educational environments is the multi-touch interface and this underpins SMART Technologies latest product - the SMART Table interactive learning centre. Looking a little like a retro-arcade game, this brightly colored 29" (73 cm) wide x 25" (65 cm) high table incorporates a 27" (69-cm) screen which can simultaneously receive input from a "virtually unlimited" number of fingers or pen tools. The table is designed to encourage group problem solving and collaboration and its intuitive interface makes it suitable for children in the 4 to 11 age group while teacher input is facilitated by the company's complementary interactive whiteboard products.
SMART, which introduced its interactive whiteboard back in in 1991, sees the table as providing a fun, "learner-centric" experience for small groups. Students can select and move objects, rotate them using two figners or resize them by pinching as well as draw or write on the screen simultaneously. Teachers meanwhile, can use in-built ready-to-go lesson activities or customize their own.
The system, which consists of a customized PC and a projection system with audio support, is designed for simple, one button operation and ships with a standard set of interactive learning applications, interactive lesson activities and educational games. Customized lessons can be created by teachers using PC or Mac and uploaded with a USB key. The company also expects independently developed software to be available when the SMART Table is released in spring 2009 at an expected price of around USD$8,000.
“Technological innovation in education over the past two decades has enriched student learning and made it a more effective, learner-centred experience,” says Nancy Knowlton, SMART’s CEO. “The SMART Table interactive learning centre builds on that success by giving students a 21st-century tool they will understand and use to further their own sense of collaboration, discovery and excitement.”