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Giant tablets, 3D printers among top school technology for 2014

Huge touch-screen displays, 3D printers, and a host of programmable robots are ready for class.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Bett show in London is where the best new technology for the world's classrooms makes its public debut. CNET has been cruising the show floor, casting eyes over the top tech trends, which this year include enormous touch screens, 3D printers, and programmable robots.

The classic whiteboard with squeaky marker pens are long gone, replaced instead with a variety of interactive boards. Most are essentially giant tablets that are either installed on the wall or come with a stand to be wheeled in front of the kids.

The all-in-one touch display from Galneo was a particularly impressive example, due to its mighty 4K resolution -- something we've only recently started to see in TVs. The Alpha Touch, meanwhile, has a 60-inch touch screen and can be connected to any iOS, Android, Windows, or Mac device to display content and whiz through lessons. The WordWall pairs a giant touch screen with a host of small tablets, allowing the kids to answer questions the teacher raises or see more lesson information on their personal displays.

3D printing has moved on from simply being a passing curiosity and is set to make a big push into the classroom. Printers from established names, like Makerbot, were present on numerous stands, along with other printers, such as the Up! Plus 2 and the handheld 3Doodler pen. 3D scanners and various bits of CAD design software were, of course, right alongside.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

With robotics and coding making their way into the UK's teaching curriculum, it's no surprise that a whole array of robot-building kits were present, from big names like Lego and K'Nex, along with more technical kits that teach the mechanics of production lines and pneumatics. Combining the fun of playing with Legos and building robots is a surefire way to get kids into programming. It would work on me, anyway.

Click through the photo gallery in this story and add your thoughts on the next generation of classroom technology in the comments below.