A recent education-related post from an unlikely source was pushed my way this week regarding new touchscreen desks designed to be used in educational settings.
"Multi-touch smart desks" could be used to authentically improve instruction. However, is it the best way? The most cost-effective method? The most relevant to our students' future technology usage?
Some researcher needs to create a metric that compares the cost of an instructional tool with it's effectiveness at increasing student engagement and learning. I realize that'd be a tricky thing to measure, but I think you'd find these multi-touch student desks to be pretty cost-ineffective at improving instruction. Perhaps even moreso than the "interactive whiteboard" hailed as a god-send by PR conscious school boards around the nation. I could rant about the ridiculous amounts of money schools spend on interactive whiteboards without (1) providing training for teachers on how to use them, (2) thinking about anything other than PR, and (3) considering if there are more effective tools to improve teaching and learning.
Why use paper worksheets when you can drill & grill with a $10,000 multi-touch computer built into the students' desks?
On a totally unrelated note: If you know of anyone giving away multi-touch smart desks for the classroom, I'll take 30.
For info on the multi-touch smart desks: