BETT 2010: Dell debuts 'connected classroom'

New concept aims to bring ICT into everyday lessons
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Dell has shown off its ‘connected classroom’ concept, a learning platform designed to help UK schools integrate ICT into other lessons.

The concept, launched this week at BETT in London, combines devices such as interactive whiteboards, netbooks, tablet PCs, digital cameras and video conferencing with ways to encourage and educate teachers in using the technology day-to-day.

“A PC lab is a very static, time-fixed, shared environment. That’s the traditional way in which PCs have been deployed. We’ve moved the best parts of that technology to a class experience and through that helped teachers adopt it into their curriculum and use multimedia in their lesson plan and use non-traditional materials to be able to reach students who learn in different ways,” James Quarles, Dell’s director of marketing for the EMEA region, told PCR.

The system allows teachers to view all the connected pupils’ workstations at once and keep tabs on how they are working. Two students can work simultaneously on the interactive whiteboard and teachers can use the whiteboards to document class discussions and email them to the pupils and their parents for review. Parents can view real-time student assessments, and pupils who are absent from school can also participate in lessons online.

As well as the interactive whiteboard, the connected classroom includes the Latitude XT Tablet for teachers and Latitude 2100 netbooks for the pupils.

Dell envisions the system being used by children as young as six, right through to secondary school and University.

Although Quarles did not say how many schools Dell thought would be able to afford the technology, he told PCR the system was not overly expensive.

“When you use these small-form devices, netbooks, that are shared across a group it’s actually fairly cost effective. For £300 you can get a very well-configured netbook and you can get some of this other technology. So it’s not grossly expensive, but I think what we have to do in order to justify in this budgetary environment, with any technology, is prove it makes a difference,” he said.

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