An experiment at Durham University is set to drag its pupils boldly into the 25th century if it's taken to its logical Vulcan conclusion.

The aim of a group of human IT professionals was to improve student classroom participation and the result is the creation of a desk that appears to be a cross between an iPhone and a 'Star-Trek style' desk.

"With three kids at one unit, you can have 30 pointers to the screen at any time. For the first time you have one computer for many individual users," Dr Liz Burd, the team leader, told the Press Association. She hopes that all school desks will be interactive within the decade.

The desk can work as both screen and keyboard while the teacher can monitor the students without recourse to walking or beaming from one part of the class to another.

Your question is illogical, miss

"It will operate the whole classroom system," Dr Byrd continued. "They can send out to the desks whatever activity they want pupils to work on. A panel on the teacher's console will show what each of the pupils are doing, so they can offer extra instruction or support where necessary."

It could even lead to the end of that 'oh so second millennium' concept, the book, in its humble hard copy form.

"It's definitely a possibility. There are so many electronic books available today, that potentially, if a teacher wants pupils to read out loud, for example, she could just send a copy of the book to the right desk."