A word from Promethean, Mark Robinson

It was fantastic to be able to support Reflective Thinking at the BETT show recently. It was not just a chance opportunity though, but in fact the culmination of years of research and parallel thinking about learning and the role of collaboration in it.

Promethean's history with Dr. Kharrufa and the work of Reflective Thinking goes back several years, from when Promethean were able to provide Culture Lab at Newcastle University with large format interactive tables with the unique ability to identify users and their activity, features that were needed to support their research. The early research successes at Newcastle helped further convince Promethean of the value of these completely new approaches to technology based education and gave Promethean the confidence to commit to building a new completely classroom concept.

BETT is the major global event in the calendar for Promethean where we are able to meet teachers and policy makers from all over the world. The Promethean ActivTable was one of the products on show at BETT - our multiuser computer for classrooms that also fully supports 3rd party applications such as "Digital Mysteries". It offers the ability for students to both cooperate and collaborate to complete tasks or their research studies while at the same time keeping a record of their individual contributions and actions for subsequent analysis or reflection. The ability to use Digital Mysteries on the ActivTable at BETT showed clearly that Promethean have a 'platform' for developers to work with. With Promethean distributing its products to schools in over 100 countries the need for leading edge content such as Digital Mysteries is clear.

At a policy level, Promethean were also active at the Education World Forum in the days before BETT, where education leaders and Ministers of Education assembled to discuss the future and role of learning. Our 21st Century information age, hyper-connectivity and rapidly advancing mobile technologies are presenting a colossal wave of social and economic disruption, forcing Governments to reconsider the measures that we value and the outputs we seek from our education systems. PISA, the international benchmark for education productivity around the world, is now looking at introducing new assessments around collaborative problem solving and collaboration skills by 2015 that will begin to refocus education away from knowledge acquisition to more 21st Century relevant assessments.

While I was at BETT discussing how the various tools works a teacher said something quite profound but simple - Collaboration IS learning. While we live today in a 'consumerfied' world of private screens and personal media, we do actually learn together by solving problems we collectively need to address and by absorbing the insights, perspective and ideas of other and combining them with our own to evolve our own view of the world.

In Promethean, we believe that the work that Reflective Thinking are currently engaged with and the type of applications they develop will become a norm in schools in time and we look forward to working together in the future to realise it.