School pupils are trying out desks with interactive screens that can recognise more than one person's finger presses.
Researchers at Durham University observed classroom interactions then worked with manufacturers to produce the necessary software and hardware.
Their SynergyNet system has a teacher's console to monitor what each child or group of children is working on.
The system will be tested in primary and secondary schools and in higher education over the next four years.
Dr Liz Burd, who led the project by Durham's technology-enhanced learning research group, said: "The new desk can be both a screen and a keyboard, it can act like a multi-touch whiteboard and several students can use it at once.
"It offers fantastic scope for more participative teaching and learning."
She added that they hoped the system would make for more equal access to information technology (IT) in classrooms.
"In IT, we have found that males have been the dominant actors - interactive classrooms will encourage more females to take part in lessons.
"It will also enable more disabled students to participate in lessons and allow more personalised learning."
A panel on the teacher's console will show what each pupil is doing, so teachers can offer instruction or support where necessary.