Classroom desks soon could serve as interactive computer screens sensitive to the touch of several students simultaneously, if a pilot project in Britain's classrooms is an indication of things to come.

Researchers at Durham University in England are working with software company SynergyNet to develop the next-generation desktops, dubbed "Star Trek desks" by a university spokesman and commonly known as "smart desks." The desks allow students to use touch-screen capabilities to do class assignments and exercises while a teacher monitors students' progress from a central screen near the front of the classroom. The screen reacts like a small interactive whiteboard and


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