Tangible Collaborative Learning with a Mixed-Reality Game: EarthShake

  • Nesra Yannier
  • Kenneth R. Koedinger
  • Scott E. Hudson
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7926)


We explore the potential of bringing together the advantages of computer games and the physical world to increase engagement, collaboration and learning. We introduce EarthShake: A tangible interface and mixed-reality game consisting of an interactive multimodal earthquake table, block towers and a computer game synchronized with the physical world via depth camera sensing. EarthShake helps kids discover physics principles while experimenting with real blocks in a physical environment supported with audio and visual feedback. Students interactively make predictions, see results, grapple with disconfirming evidence and formulate explanations in forms of general principles. We report on a preliminary user study with 12 children, ages 4-8, indicating that EarthShake produces large and significant learning gains, improvement in explanation of physics concepts, and clear signs of productive collaboration and high engagement.


Tangible interfaces Learning technologies Educational Games 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Center for the Digital Future. The 2009 digital future report: Surveying the digital future-year eight. USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, Los Angeles (2009)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Christel, M.G., Stevens, S.M., et al.: RumbleBlocks: Teaching Science Concepts to Young Children through a Unity Game. In: CGames, 162–166 (2012)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fitzmaurice, G.W., Ishii, H., Buxton, W.: Bricks: laying the foundations for graspable user interfaces. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 1995), pp. 442–449. ACM Press (1995)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Henning, P.: Everyday Cognition and Situated Learning. In: Jonassen, D. (ed.) Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, 2nd edn. Simon & Schuster, New York (1998)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jackson, G.T., Dempsey, K.B., McNamara, D.S.: Short and Long Term Benefits of enjoyment and Learning within a Serious Game. In: Biswas, G., Bull, S., Kay, J., Mitrovic, A. (eds.) AIED 2011. LNCS, vol. 6738, pp. 139–146. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Johnson, W.L., Vilhjalmsson, H., Marsella, S.: Serious Games for Language Learning: How Much Game, How Much AI? In: AIED 2005 Proceedings of the 2005 Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, pp. 306–313 (2005)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    McQuiggan, S.W., Rowe, J.P., Lee, S., Lester, J.C.: Story-based learning: The impact of narrative on learning experiences and outcomes. In: Woolf, B.P., Aïmeur, E., Nkambou, R., Lajoie, S. (eds.) ITS 2008. LNCS, vol. 5091, pp. 530–539. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Quinn, H., et al.: A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. The National Academies Press (2012)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    O’Malley, C., Stanton-Fraser, D.: Literature review in learning with tangible technologies. Nesta FutureLab Series, report 12 (2004)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Prensky, M.: Digital game-based learning. McGraw-Hill, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Roe, K., Mujis, D.: Children and computer games – a profile of the heavy user. European Journal of Communication 13(2), 181–200 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Schneider, B., Jermann, P., Zufferey, G., Dillenbourg, P.: Benefits of a Tangible Interface for Collaborative Learning and Interaction. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies 4, 222–232 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Walker, E., Burleson, W.: Using Need Validation to Design an Intelligent Tangible Learning Environment. In: Proceeding CHI 2012 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2123–2128 (2012)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Yannier, N., Basdogan, C., Tasiran, S., Sen, O.L.: Using Haptics to Convey Cause and Effect Relations in Climate Visualization. IEEE Transactions on Haptics 1(2), 130–141 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nesra Yannier
    • 1
  • Kenneth R. Koedinger
    • 1
  • Scott E. Hudson
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Computer Interaction InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations