Directors: Antonio M. Battro, Kurt W. Fischer and Diego Golombek
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani
Multi-touch tabletop visualization of life on Earth: Can large data, embodiment, and social play help advance science learning?
A multi-touch digital tabletop can offer a playful and collaborative digital medium in which different types of learning experiences coincide: visual, sensory-motor, cognitive and social. From Piaget and Vygotsky onwards, these constructs have been considered fundamental for learning. What changes when the learning material is digital, the visual stimuli go beyond powers of ten, and the learners' experience is a physical interaction with a touch-screen computer display? In a 4-year NSF-funded Life on Earth project, we have designed a set of multi-touch tabletop learning activities to help museum visitors to better understand the 3.5 billion years of history of life on Earth. These learning activities are also our testbeds to experiment with and answer questions on learning and cognition. Through the design of the DeepTree, FloTree, and BAT, I shall illustrate the user interface, the learning support constructs, and the embodiment features we developed in these learning activities, followed by a brief description of our preliminary findings, and remaining research questions.