RM did a good job in the Olympia 2 Building at BETT 2009 where they set aside a whole area titled ‘Shaping Education for the Future’. Not only was their good coffee, nice biscuits and a free internet café. But there was also a chance to look at some of the New Technologies that might be coming in the direction of schools over the next few years.
First Up was an interactive floor (by Virtigo – I think?). It worked by a ceiling mounted projector that projects down onto any surface. A small camera recognises the uses shadow on the surface – which allows the user to interact. It’s multi-user so lots of people can interact at any time. The children that I saw using this device were having a great time completing puzzles, revealing objects and working collaboratively. I’m sure that with time more educational activities will be developed for this particular piece of hardware and I can certainly see products like this being used in schools of the future.
Next I looked at an interesting system from Optimusic. The system uses our sensor lights to create an interactive multimedia environment. Which in simple terms means it’s a switch controlled by light. The user breaks the spotlight beam and a sensor activates sounds, images and other events on the computer. Again the children that I saw using this system seemed very engaged and I particularly liked the virtual DJ application that allowed children to compose music by moving their hands through the light beams. I’ll be keeping an eye on this product as one of their next stages for development is to produce software that works with the Optimusic system to improve maths and numeracy.
After I had finished being a
virtual DJ, I moved into the Video and Media across the curriculum area. Where
I had bit of fun trying to be like Harry Potter! The video below shows my
picture on the television and then me disappearing. This was achieved using a
chroma key. My thanks go to Andrew Watt (formally of Edinburgh City)
who kindly captured the footage on my flip camera.
I remain convinced that digital
video is a powerful way to enhance the learning experience. I hope that all new
schools that are built in the future will set space aside for a small video
studio where students can learn about the media and be creative. Most importantly
I hope schools will continue to broadcast their student’s successes on school
websites or video sharing sites. We have some very talented young people in the
UK and their work deserves to get an audience. A fantastic example of this is some
of the work produced by the Thomas
Hardy School in Dorchester.
Moving on I visited the science area where I saw a 3D projector in action. Again this is defiantly something that we will see in schools sooner rather than later. The users view the material wearing 3D glasses and the content really bounces out of the screen. I watched a really good demo of a biology lesson where students were learning about anatomy and physiology – your really did fly into and through the body. I also saw Google Earth and Second Life being shown in 3D – it looked amazing!
In my next post I will look at some of the interesting furniture and other ideas that were on display.