Title: Exploring the requirements of tabletop interfaces for education

Authors: Ahmed Sulaiman Kharrufa, Patrick Olivier

Addresses: School of Computing Science, Culture Lab, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK. ' School of Computing Science, Culture Lab, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

Abstract: With the advent of situated technologies for collaborative interaction that are based around digital tables, understanding the requirements of such digital tabletops in educational settings is a pressing concern. We conducted a study to observe how small-groups of higher education students collaborate in a pen-and-paper based group authoring and annotation task around a traditional table. The study was primarily concerned with issues that can have an impact on digital tabletop design, in particular, factors that contribute or hinder successful collaboration. By analysing the study within a distributed cognition framework we examined the task, the participants, and the tools. The analysis demonstrated that many factors contributed to effective collaboration around the table. These include: elements of participants| actions (conversations, body position, gaze, gestures, and stylised actions), spatial characteristics of the setting and participant behaviour (dividing the workspace, and the position and orientation of artefacts on the workspace), and the artefacts themselves. These characteristics have been used to establish a set of requirements that must be taken into account when designing a computer system to support digital tabletop interfaces for co-located synchronous collaboration in educational settings.

Keywords: annotation; co-located synchronous collaboration; tabletop interfaces; distributed cognition; learning technology; small groups; higher education; students; group authoring; digital tabletop design.

DOI: 10.1504/IJLT.2010.031615

International Journal of Learning Technology, 2010 Vol.5 No.1, pp.42 - 62

Published online: 15 Feb 2010 *

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