The next step in school gear

3 Feb 2011

The digital classroom is constantly evolving, bringing new learning experiences with each enhancement. What is the latest hardware on offer for tech-savvy students?


Promethean’s latest whiteboard offers the ability to operate the board with both a pen and gesture-touch simultaneously.

This multitouch capability will let students easily reposition and scale objects using natural hand movements and they can use a pen for precision tasks, such as writing and drawing. This allows for greater flexibility for collaborative lessons, letting more than one student use the board at once.

The ActivBoard 500 also has two free multitouch applications for mind mapping and lesson planning – NoteBoard and TouchPad.

These applications will let teachers aggregate ideas, collate learning points and use interactive post-it notes to promote mind mapping activities.



The SMART Board 885ix brings a new multitouch experience, allowing for true collaboration on an interactive whiteboard. Two students can use their fingers or a pen on the board simultaneously to write, draw and manipulate content. They can do completely different actions and the board will register this. The system also allows the user to write with a pen, erase with the palm of their hand or move objects with a finger.

It also has an ultra-short throw projector, virtually eliminating shadows and glare from the board. And as the board is widescreen, it has 20pc more working space than the standard whiteboard.



Apple’s iconic tablet computer is not just useful for leisure, but for education, too. There are lots of apps available on the iTunes Store for teaching students of all ages.

Educational apps are brought to life thanks to the device’s intuitive and interactive interface. And it’s not just solely educational apps that can add to the classroom. Art apps fuse creativity and technology, letting students express themselves through new ways. You can access books on the iPad, including Shakespeare and classic novels, many of which are free. The iPad also can access many productivity apps, to make distributing lessons and notes easier. With so much to choose from, it can be easy to develop an inspiring lesson plan, capturing the imaginations of tech-savvy students.



This Toshiba laptop runs on Windows 7 Professional, which offers greater protection than before and advanced back-up options to help students and teachers protect their work. The 15.6-inch screen can play HD video and the laptop has a 250GB hard disk drive on it, meaning it can store a huge amount of documents on it. The laptop’s battery life lasts up to four and a half hours and it has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a top chip which makes running several programmes at once a breeze. It comes with a huge range of software, including McAfee Internet Security and Microsoft Office Starter 2010. Toshiba also offers a school’s bundle, including on-site warrant, a mouse and carrying case to go with it.



This netbook is not only stylish, but quite practical, too. The Samsung NF210 offers an Intel Atom N550 processor to help run numerous programs at once. It runs on Windows 7, and offers up to 11 hours of battery life, meaning students don’t need to worry too much about their netbook going dead during work. The netbook can go from sleep mode to full working mode within three seconds of opening the display. It can also can handle multimedia material, a route the digital classroom is taking increasingly. With a HD screen, video comes to life, making the lesson more vibrant and detailed. It also has a surround-sound system, enhancing the experience further.



The SMART Document Camera 330 uses a high-resolution video camera to let teachers capture physical objects and images from books or pages and display them on a whiteboard to the class. Not only that, but from summer 2011, the SMART Document Camera will support mixed reality content. Mixed reality allows users to interact with physical objects and 3D content.

The document camera can read a digital marker on a flash card, which the software recognises and then displays a 3D image of – for example, a fish or an insect on the board. The teacher can rotate this image to allow students to take a 360-degree look at a 3D object or diagram. This provides a greater understanding of the subject and brings a richer experience to the classroom.



This portable e-reader offers access to thousands and thousands of books, from academic texts to classic novels. It has high-resolution electronic paper, which reflects actual ink particles electronically, making it easy to read without eye strain.

New books can be downloaded wirelessly directly to the Kindle, without needing an extra PC. Its built-in memory can store more than 200 titles and many more with an SD card. The Kindle has an built-in dictionary, an up-to-date encyclopedia and access to Wikipedia.

Students can also add annotations to the text for important notes and can highlight sentences and bookmark pages for future use.