Promethean will unveil its take on the interactive table at BETT 2012 and the key word will be pedagogy
BETT 2012 visitors will get a chance to preview the new interactive table from Promethean at Olympia, London in January. While the ActivTable has been carefully kept under wraps, what is distinctive about it is the attention that has been paid to pedagogy.
The hardware is straightforward and slick. It has a high-quality 46-inch LCD HD touch-screen based on a high-quality PC with the kind of look and feel, robustness, connectivity and sound quality that a school should expect. It's the software that shows even more careful attention to what happens in a classroom, and the accent is on pedagogy and collaboration.
Promethean's key message is that its ActivTable is evolving collaborative curriculum work for the classroom. A sneak preview last year supported that. It revealed an extremely engaging, high-quality and tough screen that was powered by a quality PC. That means that the hardware can provide everything that teachers and learners expect from the Windows touch-screen technology before even getting into the tailored, collaborative software for learning being developed by Promethean.
The ActivTable can support up to six users (including the teacher) collaborating simultaneously and is intended for use with learners from 4 to 11 years of age. The official launch is expected in March or April and product available in the summer with at least 70 learning activities on board.
Promethean paying close attention to pedagogy and learner engagement
While there is no official word on pricing, it is expected to be in the region of £4-5,000. Interactive tables have, so far, not been seen as high-volume, ubiquitous technology so there is likely to be a price premium. Previous offerings from Microsoft and SMART have been extremely slow to gain adoption which is why Promethean is paying such close attention to pedagogy and learner engagement.
As expected, it is fully networkable and will be marketed as one of a range of learning solutions for primary classrooms and learning spaces.
Promethean chief executive Jean-Yves Charlier says: “Learning and teaching effectiveness are undoubtedly increased by creating opportunities for collaboration and engagement. ActivTable encourages inclusive group activities alongside personalised learning. From the teachers’ perspective, it also supports immediate assessment and integrates with core curriculum learning objectives.”
The tight focus on what happens in class was evident at a customer preview in 2011 when collaborative classroom activities were demonstrated. Promethean has been developing its own approaches to interface design for collaborative work. While the teacher is in overall charge of registration of users, children "sign in" to activities so that, where necessary, the table knows exactly who they are and where they are. Developers are paying attention to the "manners" that will steer contributions.
While understanding and development of new "behaviours" will be important for coherent practice, management of activities will be crucial for building in capabilities for what Promethean terms "productivity of learning" and assessment. The company has been able to move on in its understanding of interactive, collaborative technologies since the launch of its multi-user interactive whiteboards earlier this year (see "Promethean pioneers whiteboard gestures and apps"). And while the ActivTable will ship with 70 classroom activities, many more compatible materials will be available through the company's vibrant online community Promethean Planet which now has more than a million teacher members.
Promethean identifies the key educational benefits of the ActivTable as:
- Flexible learning opportunities – from individual, small group work to whole-classroom activities with up to six users per table;
- Support for assessment for learning – providing the ability to track activity to individual learners and follow learning journeys;
- Bespoke design for young learners (aged 4-11) and for special educational needs and inclusion;
- "Plug and play" connectivity with multi-touch and multi-user apps mapped to the curriculum
- Simple to set up, customise and create tailor-made activities for different teaching approaches. Ability to present different tasks to different users:
- Intuitive, engaging and "fun" learning opportunities
Promethean's product manager Helen Isherwood says, "ActivTable offers an intuitive way to engage students, making learning fun and relevant in the 21st century. ActivTable uses the touch-sensitive technology many students are already familiar with away from the classroom through tablets and smart phones.”
While the ActivTable will undoubtedly win teacher aficionados at BETT, it's already been making an impact with young testers. One of them, william Harper, aged 9, says, “The ActivTable is brilliant. You can move things around, flip them over and connect them. It is fun and educational at the same time.”
The ActivBoard will be a centrepiece for Promethean innovation at BETT 2012 but the company will also be showing a wide range of whole-class technologies from feedback devices and apps for handheld devices and mobile phones to its multi-user interactive whiteboards at the top end.
Promethean at BETT