Designing for Learning with Tangible Technologies

Authored by: Sara Price , Paul Marshall

Handbook of Design in Educational Technology

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415807340
eBook ISBN: 9780203075227
Adobe ISBN: 9781135118969

10.4324/9780203075227.ch25

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Abstract

With the emergence of increasingly small, cheap and robust computing platforms and digital sensing technologies, the potential for embedding computing power into physical artefacts and linked to digital representations in flexible ways is increasing. A number of opportunities for tangible technologies to support learning in new ways have been made. Their very nature seems to foster hands-on learning, providing new explorative ways of interacting with information and engendering a more active approach to learning than traditional computing; digital augmentation offers opportunities to present information not normally available in the physical world e.g., through visualisation or sound (Rogers et al., 2005). In this chapter we adopt a broad definition of ‘tangibles’, following Shaer and Hornecker (2010): ‘Interfaces that are concerned with providing tangible representations to digital information and controls, allowing users to quite literally grasp data with their hand and effect functionality by physical manipulations of these representations.’ Examples of tangible systems designed to support learning include Resnick et al.’s (1998) pioneering digital manipulatives, Bakker, Antle and Van Den Hoven’s (2012) Moving Sound Tangibles and Horn and Jacob’s (2007) tangible programming blocks (see Figures 25.1a, 25.1b, and 25.1c). See Shaer and Hornecker (2010) for a detailed introduction to research on tangible interfaces.

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