Economic and Social Research Council
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A new interactive learning system which helps parents keep in touch with what their children are doing at school is proving to be a great success with children, parents and teachers, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The research, based at the University of Sussex and the London Knowledge Lab, developed the ‘HOMEWORK’ interactive learning system which enables children between the ages of 5 and 7 to learn and practice Key Stage 1 maths using a range of multimedia technologies - both in the classroom and at home with their family.

The researchers found that using HOMEWORK:



  • improved communication between parents, teachers and learners 
  • provided continuity between home and school learning
  • made numeracy learning more engaging for many learners
  • increased participation and enjoyment in homework (by parents as well as pupils)
  • and may have increased the effectiveness of time spent learning.

HOMEWORK integrates educational software with broadcast quality video from the Channel Four educational TV series ‘The Number Crew’. Children work in a teacher-led group using an interactive whiteboard, either on their own or in small groups using tablet PCs. The teacher can use his or her own tablet PC to plan lessons, manage the class, allocate work and monitor each child’s progress. Parents can see what their children have been doing at school, are able to offer help and hence feel more involved with the classroom.

Teachers were enthusiastic about using the HOMEWORK system - as long as it was robust and well integrated with the rest of the school's activities. For the children using HOMEWORK meant they spent more time on their learning, displayed greater concentration and engagement and enjoyed the choice of activities and computer game style ‘rewards’. Parents enjoyed using the tablet PCs with their children, they were better able to talk with their children about school numeracy work and were able to better understand what, and how, their children were learning at school.

Commenting on the study Professor Rosemary Luckin, who led the research team said:

“Children benefited from having their own personal tablet for learning about maths at home and in the classroom.  Teachers appreciated being able to offer learners exciting multimedia activities and non-paper based homework.  Parents enjoyed working with their children using the technology at home and being able to see what their child had been doing at school. All-in-all a great success and a model for other such schemes"


Professor Rosemary Luckin Tel: 0207 7632176/07940430610, e-mail -

ESRC Press Office:

Alexandra Saxon Tel: 01793 413032, e-mail:





Annika Howard Tel: 01793 413119, e-mail:     




  1. The research was led by Professor Rosemary Luckin, based at The London Knowledge Lab and Sussex University’s IDEAS laboratory in the School of Science and Technology, working with commercial partners (Open Mind Productions and Channel 4 Learning) and Little Horsted and Westdene Primary Schools, Sussex.
  2. Methodology: The project 'HOMEWORK: HOME and School Linked Via Divergent Technology in a Pedagogic Framework' used a participatory Human Centred Design methodology.  This consisted of working with teachers, parents and children to develop an initial system vision into a series of increasingly sophisticated prototypes.  Each prototype was evaluated with these stakeholders, revised in light of the data collected during these evaluations and then re-evaluated.  At each stage the functionality of the prototype was increased leading to a final evaluation involving use of the prototype HOMEWORK system for a month with a class of primary school learners their teacher and families.
  3. The HOMEWORK project is part of the People @ the Centre of Communication and Information Technologies (PACCIT) programme. The PACCIT research programme aims to develop a much greater understanding of the psychological, social and organisational characteristics of individuals and groups as they relate to, and interact with, information technologies, and to feed this knowledge back into the evaluation and design of more effective IT systems and products.
  4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research relevant to business, the public sector and voluntary organisations. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2007-08 is £181 million.  At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at 
  5. ESRC Society Today offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities. More at
  6. The ESRC confirms the quality of its funded research by evaluating research projects through a process of peer review. This research has been graded as 'good'. 


















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