Interactivity in your class’s hands: Why touchscreens are the next big thing

If there’s one thing that I’m convinced of, it’s that multitouch technology is far easier to pick up for children than it is for adults. 

We’re already seeing it in the classroom (research has shown that 47% of schools are now trialling or using iPad) and more than ever we are seeing it in daily life; I recently found myself at an exhibition about space in a room full of six and seven year-olds who all expected to be able to move the stars around on screen with their fingers – much to their disappointment, they couldn’t.

It’s not surprising then that, at this year’s BETT show, giant interactive touchscreen displays were one of the hottest topics. Best thought of as giant tablets or TVs with multitouch technology, they proved a hit with teachers because they open up interactivity and collaboration in a way that’s not previously been available. On a basic level, they improve engagement letting pupils physically interact with a subject, but the learning benefits go far beyond that…

What exactly is an interactive touchscreen?

The best way to describe an interactive touchscreen is a giant iPad that can be either wall-mounted or used flat on the desk. You get all the same visual functionality as you do on an iPad – an HD screen for streaming video and images and built-in speakers make them ideal for presenting to the class.

And the multitouch aspect also means they’re ideal for letting pupils get hands on with activities too – using simple finger touch, they can intuitively interact with programs onscreen. As well as encouraging pupil interaction and group activities, teachers can also lead the class from the front, or even get pupils to connect wirelessly with their mobile devices to get involved with activities.

What are the learning benefits of interactive touchscreens?

Touchscreens are perfect for making sure you’re targeting 21st century learning skills. They’ll improve collaboration, boost critical thinking and problem solving, and can be used with all the great content that teachers and pupils have already prepared. The main benefits include:

Greater increase in pupils’ attention

Pupils are naturally drawn to touchscreens, and the interactivity really helps them engage with subjects. If you have pupils with a short attention span who struggle to engage with topics, touchscreen displays can help. Up to four students can use them at one time, so there’s less chance to switch off as they’re engaged in learning full time.

Better collaboration between pupils and with the teacher

Set pupils a group challenge and they can use the display to complete it – for example, a simple jigsaw puzzle that they would normally complete themselves can be turned into a group activity. Another option is for pupils to use iPhone or iPad to connect the display for mirroring (displaying their iPad screen on the touchscreen) and annotation.

Reduced replacement costs and better visibility

Unlike a data projector, a touchscreen uses an LED screen rather than a lamp. That means you won’t find yourself having to replace costly projector bulbs when they come to the end of their life (to put it in perspective, the approximate life of a touchscreen like the CTOUCH before any element needs replacing is put at 15 years, or 45000 hours!). It also means there are no shadows obscuring your work as you walk in front of the screen!

Increased class attendance

We’ve had great feedback from our schools who say they have integrated innovative technologies like touchscreens with a 1:1 iPad scheme, and it has actually increased attendance levels because the pupils have been so engaged with the technology.

How could we use touchscreen?

One use we really like for interactive touchscreens is collaborative storytelling. For example, you could get a small group of pupils to work together to plan a story and write it by dragging and dropping images, video and other elements into the plan. Because up to four pupils can be working on a touchscreen at once, it means everyone gets to join in and interact with the process, and annotate sections with thoughts and ideas.

Jigsaw24’s top pick: the CTOUCH!

HD display. From 47” right up to a whopping 84”, the CTOUCH’s antiglare screen gives a great picture, even in the brightest classrooms.

Multitouch functionality. There’s no need to hold a stylus – the CTOUCH’s screen works with the touch of a finger, and supports up to four pupils.

Built-in speakers. With 20W speakers included, you get great sound quality, or the additional Sound Bar gives enhanced surround sound.

Mobile device connectivity. Connect iPad and iPod with included Smoothboard Air software for displaying iPad screens and annotation.

Adjustable trolley. Fully height-adjustable for all students, including those in wheelchairs. This means smaller screens are just as usable, and can be wheeled to wherever they’re needed.

Budget check: CTOUCH interactive touch screens range from £2730 for the smallest 47” model up to £13,194 for the 84” option. See the full range of CTOUCH options here.

Want to know more about how touch screens could help in your classroom? Give us a call on 03332 409 333 or email For all the latest news and recommendations, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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