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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Danes get interactive floors for schools
Pupils using the Wisdom Wells

An interactive floor that encourages children to learn using their bodies rather than sitting at a desk or a PC through the school day has been launched by programmers in Denmark.

Called "Wisdom Wells," the floors were created by designers Kasper Neilson and Ole Iverson for children "who do not fit into the school environment" and "cannot just sit and listen to a teacher for six hours."

"The pupils are placed at a table and sit down when they learn - but we thought, 'is there a way we can move the classroom out of the classroom setting and engage the children in learning in a different way?'," Mr Neilson told BBC World Service's Digital Planet programme.

"We were looking at interactive floors in a different project and got inspired."

Collaborative learning

The Wisdom Well is effectively a large glass floor, measuring 12 square metres, that can be set up inside a school.

Beneath it, an image from a PC is projected up onto the floor. Cameras beneath the floor then track the actions of pupils as they move across it - allowing them to interact with the projected images.

Pupils using the Wisdom Wells
We're aiming that learning is not something that comes from teachers trying to fill the heads of children - here, the children can get taught by each other
Wisdom Wells inventor Ole Iverson
The idea was partially inspired by the ancient Nordic myth of Mimir's Well, where the god Odin sacrificed his one eye in order to obtain eternal wisdom.

"The children can just go up to the floor and start using it - they don't have to wear anything," Mr Neilson said.

"The children's feet are filmed by the cameras, and they can push buttons, for example in a quiz game."

The Wells are only designed to supplement, rather than replace, ordinary classroom teaching, Mr Neilson's co-inventor Ole Iverson said.

The Danish government has begun a programme of putting more PCs into schools to help children learn, he said, but what made the Wisdom Well special is its emphasis on what he termed "collaborative learning."

"Collaborative learning is not just about how I learn, it is about how I learn together with other people," he said.

"So our game floor is a way to combine individual learning with collaborative learning. They can learn together and negotiate the right answers, and how to play the games, and in that way get used to working in collaborative environments.

"We're aiming that learning is not something that comes from teachers trying to fill the heads of children - here, the children can get taught by each other."

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