Bristol Interaction Group

Multi-Touch Classroom


Multi-touch interactive tables are becoming increasingly affordable and are likely to become commonplace in our offices, schools and homes. They combine the inherited characteristics of a traditional work table, a personal  computer and multi-touch capabilities. In other words, a tablesized iPhone! They offer a world of possibilities: task engagement, face-to-face collaboration, social dynamics and simultaneous input contribution.

Recognising the global potential of this technology in an educational setting, they recently embarked on an ambitious outreach program called the Multi-Touch Classroom (MTC). The purpose of this project is to transform the learning environment in schools using the interactive table. Since the project started in 2009, teachers and the group have been working together to design tasks for students based on the National Curriculum and classroom activities. To date they have developed six topics based on the Science syllabus. The dynamic design of the system allows teachers easily to add more topics for future lessons.

The group have also hosted several Open Days for secondary students to revise selected topics in a small group. To make it more exciting for the students, different types of interaction techniques are made available, such as object manipulations using multi-finger touch, pantograph, drawing and deleting tool. Through this facility, students are able to express their creativity while working through the task. The Interaction and Graphics opened their doors to many keen Key Stage 3 students yearly, providing an opportunity for them to have a hands-on learning experience using the interactive table. Teachers from the local schools are also excited about trying out this new way of learning and collaboration.

The research for this project is done in stages. In 2010, we explored the usage of interactive tables with students in the UK. We then deployed the multi-touch tabletops at two local schools in Delhi, India. This project was in partnership with our partner NIIT, Delhi. Following that, in 2012 we worked with children in Finland when they perform collaborative learning tasks around interactive tables. For this project we partnered with Calkin Montero Suero and SciFest from Univeristy of Eastern Finland.

This work was made possible through the collaboration between different researches and organisations: Abhijit Karnik, Dr Mark Marshall & Dan Page (UoB), Dr Mark Perry (Brunel University), Dr Kenton O’Hara (Microsoft Research), Mr Tim Brown, City Academy Bristol, Ruth Taylor, Jane Glasson, Brislington Enterprise College and NIIT (India), Calkin Montero Suero and SciFest from Univeristy of Eastern Finland.

A short article about this project was published in the LynchPin Magazine, 2011, page 11, “Delivering the Multi-Touch Classroom“. PDF





Group Interaction on Interactive Multi-touch Tables by Children in India- IDC 2012

Interactive tables provide multi-touch capabilities that can enable children to collaborate face-to-face simultaneously. In this paper we extend existing understanding of children’s use of interactive tabletops by examining their use by school children in a school in Delhi, India.  In the study, we explore how the school children exhibit particular types of collaboration strategies and touch input techniques when dealing with digital objects.  In particular, we highlight a number of behaviours of interest, such as how the children would move the same digital object on the table together.  We also discuss how the children work in close proximity to each other and dynamically organize their spatial positions in order to work together, as well as establish territory and control. We go on to examine some of the finger-based interaction and manipulation strategies that arise in these contexts. Finally, the paper considers the implications of such behaviours for the deployment of tabletop applications in these particular educational contexts.

We will be presenting our IDC paper in Bremen, Germany between 12th June-15th June 2012. Poster

Tabletops and Therapeutics Interactions

Writing in 1957 Carl Rogers, a pioneer of person-centred therapy, identified an empowering client-therapist relationship as the essence of a therapeutic process and proposed that an empowering relationship could, in and of itself, create the necessary and sufficient conditions for successful outcomes in mental health settings [17]. Whilst modern psychological theories no longer favour an exclusive focus on relationships, positive relationships and the dynamics of client-therapist interactions remain cornerstones for mental health intervention theories. In this paper  we offer a preliminary discussion on the potential of tabletop computing in mental health settings. We focus on the use of technology to support psychological or talk-based approaches with adolescents and consider how tabletop systems could help in reshaping the dynamics of therapeutic conversations and psychoeducation. To ground this discussion, we draw on the results of previous work, which investigated the use of desktop games in clinical interventions with adolescents. PDF

The Impact of Interactive Tables and Multiple Surfaces Technologies Towards Communication and Learning- Surface Learning Workshop, 2012

Multi-touch interactive tables are vast becoming ‘must-have’ items for enhancing the collaborative learning experience. There is extensive amount of literature promoting and highlighting the impact of collaborative learning around interactive tables towards learning, communication and social interaction. In this paper we  present several of our existing work investigating the communication impact that emerges during collaborative peer  learning activities around tabletop. It is also worth noting that we  present findings of collaborative outcomes from two countries. Finally we highlight our interests and ideas that we hope will be addressed and discussed during the workshop in the light of shaping the future of multi-touch multiple surfaces for learning. PDF

The Effects of Interaction Techniques on Talk Patterns in Collaborative Peer Learning around Interactive Tables- CHI 2011

This paper presents the findings of a user study investigating conversational patterns across three conditions of table-based interaction (direct touch interactive table, pantograph interactive table and non-digital table) for different types of educational activities. Findings demonstrate that communication style is significantly affected by interaction techniques. The direct touch technique stimulated conversations based around the topic and pedagogical method. The pantograph technique promoted playfulness and had a higher number of directive utterances between participants, with fewer task-based, group-oriented utterances. The non-digital table promoted reflective forms of task-orientated utterance, encouraged group communication and fostered more equitable participation between members. The findings provide insights into the design of interactive tables to support particular forms of social interaction. PDF

Communication Patterns in Collaborative Peer Learning around Interactive Tables- Child Computer Interaction Workshop, CHI 2011

Despite many advances in technology, interaction and co-located collaboration, there is little knowledge of how children communicate around interactive tables. Key to the success of peer collaborations is the extent to which children communicate and the nature of the talk that contributes towards successful learning. Our work examines the communication patterns of children across various conditions of table-based interaction for different types of educational activities. We present two studies to investigate the communication patterns. Our findings provide insights into the design of interactive tables to support particular forms of social interaction towards understanding how the next generation of HCI will impact our children’s education in the future. PDF