I’ve had my touchscreen coffee table for a few months now and decided to post an update now that I’ve it for a while. When I built it I was really thinking about using it for fantasy football scores on game day or entertaining friends. It turns out that’s not how I have been using it. Or at least I haven’t been using it like that very much. Turns out it’s a great way to educate and engage my kids.
I have two boys, 7 & 9. Both like computers and both now have homework assignments that require them to go online and visit different websites. Every night they are required to put in a certain amount of time doing math, reading or science at various sites. These are usually flash driven sites that cleverly disguise the learning. The sites are pretty cool. I had a blast myself on one, creating hurricanes off the coast of Africa. What could possibly be cooler than doing your homework on a 40” touchscreen coffee table? I really haven’t had much trouble getting them to do the assignments after I showed them how to visit websites on the table. My biggest issue now is the two of them fighting to get on it.
The second big win was more of a surprise. I have been trying to teach my 9 year old to play chess for a few years. We usually get about half way through the pieces before he losses interest. We revisit, he remembers a little but we never got to the point of playing a game. My approach was wrong. I was trying to teach him on a traditional chessboard with physical pieces. What worked was putting him on the touchscreen with a big chess game. The game shows him where each piece can move when he selects it. It moves the pieces and allows him to easily undo moves that didn’t work. After about 20 minutes of this instruction he was playing on his own against the computer. I installed a chess game on a phone and he was off to the races. This is all because I used a giant touchscreen to make the game more accessible to him.! Now he’s still playing the game a bit too much like a video game (fast) but he is happily playing chess and that’s a win.
Lastly, and this should go without saying, its great for games. Minecraft, Crossy Road, Asphalt 8 and a bunch of others. My son had been dying to install some Minecraft mods and now he can. Surprisingly, we have gotten a lot of mileage out of the old Windows 7 touch pack. The multiplayer interactive games like Garden Pond and rebound are great for family play. The Microsoft Lagoon makes everybody happy as well. Something about making a touchscreen act like a pond is just magic.
My only disappointment so far has been the lack of a decent Monopoly game for Windows. What’s up with that?