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