Supporting Learning with Interactive Surfaces and Spaces

  • Michael A. EvansEmail author
  • Jochen Rick


In recent years, educational research on interactive surfaces such as tablets, tabletops, and whiteboards, and spaces such as smart rooms and 3D sensing systems has grown in quantity, quality, and prominence. Departing from the mouse-and-keyboard form of input, users of these systems manipulate digital information directly with fingers, feet, and body movements, or through a physical intermediary such as token, pen, or other tractable object. Due to their support for natural user interfaces, direct input and multiple access points, these educational technologies provide significant opportunities to support colocated collaborative and kinesthetic learning. As hardware becomes affordable, development environments mature, and public awareness grows, these technologies are likely to see substantial uptake in the classroom. In this chapter, we provide a foothold on the current technology development and empirical literature, highlighting a range of exemplary projects that showcase the potential of interactive surfaces and spaces to support learning across age groups and content domains. We synthesize across the existing work to formulate implications of these technological trends for the design of interactive educational technologies, the impetus for academic research based on such systems, and the advancement of future educational practice.


Collocated collaborative learning Interactive surfaces Interactive spaces Kinesthetic learning Natural user interface 



Research reported in this chapter was supported, in part, by a National Science Foundation grant (IIS 0736151) awarded to Michael A. Evans. The views expressed in this chapter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the National Science Foundation. We thank Dor Abrahamson and David Birchfield for providing action shots of the Mathematical Imagery Trainer and SMALLab, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Learning Sciences and TechnologiesSchool of Education, Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational TechnologySaarland UniversitySaarbrueckenGermany

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