Application of Media Manipulation Techniques to Multi-touch Computing in Support of Education

This work was featured in several news stories on numerous websites, newspapers and radio stations along with featuring on local news as part of a news story on Durham University’s work on the ‘class room of the future’. 

This work was early application development and framework improvements to a media manipulation system named SynergyNet (developed by other researchers in Durham University’s Technology Enhanced Learning research group) which utilises multi-touch technology for the purposes of education. The system is entirely java implemented and uses a wide range of java packages such as networking and physics engine libraries.

The Applications developed as part of this research work were a range of classroom applications which were intended for use by students in the early years of primary school. Some applications were designed to mimic a real world activities such as getting shapes to fit in their corresponding holes, whereas some of the other applications developed were more abstract, asking the users to complete sentences by dragging the right words into the gaps. All the tasks designed for these applications were chosen with the idea that the ability to scale, rotate and move objects more intuitively with multi-touch than with traditional interface techniques would help young students with the idea of tessellation. Tessellation being the identification of patterns and correspondence between shapes even if there are differences in the shapes’ attributes such as size, scale and orientation.

Simple networking between the tables and colour co-ordination allows for students on each table to work as a group in competition against users on another table. For these applications the goal was to complete the given task before the other table, a small counter on the table would display the progress of other tables in such a way that it could be view from any angle – an important consideration when designing for multi-touch. At the end of the development of the applications a small group of young students were invited to use the system. The framework and applications held up well, even with up to 8 students using both hands on the table simultaneously. However despite all the work on the tessellation applications the students preferred the simple water application which mimicked water through a simple image distortion effect.

More information on the SynergyNet Project can be found here

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