Nov 22 2008
Single Touch, Multi-Touch, Spatial?
For the first time in 2006 I saw a multi-touch device in action in the labs of Philips in Eindhoven. Just recently the wave of multi-touch devices has grown and this is especially clear in the use of mobile phones (also my iPod looks different). I suffered from iPhone envy when I was in Glasgow for the SLF as so many people had them, pinching and flicking their way through mobile content. A month or so after I returned from Eindhoven I wrote that perhaps the IWB had past it’s sell by date. What I am aware of now, that admittedly I wasn’t at the time of that post, is how much research and development needs to be done for multi-touch to be a strong enough technology for the average classroom.
Multi-touch technology in phones such as the iPhone, G1, Samsung Anycall SPH-M4650 and the new LG KF900 places it in the mainstream and can only accelerate the advancement of similar learning technologies.
- SINGLE, DOUBLE TAP: Select objects by touching them once (single tap), or double tap to open objects/programs.
- FLICK: Scroll or pan within an application either horizontally or vertically. For example, in MediaSmart Photo, flick your finger to the left on the display and the inertia from your flick will move the photos leftward, just as if you pushed a piece of paper to the left on a table.
- PRESS & DRAG: Touch an object on the display and hold and drag it to the desired destination.
- ARC: Allows you to move tracks to/from playlists without having to make a straight line.
- PINCH: Touch an object on the display once to select the item then place 2 fingers on opposite corners of the object, then move them closer together to decrease the object’s size or to zoom out. Move fingers away from one another to enlarge the object or to zoom in.
- ROTATE: Rotate photos by touching the object once to select the item then use 2 fingers on opposite corners of the image and rotate the image either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
- LAUNCH MEDIASMART: Touch the screen with two fingers together and write the letter m on the display to launch the MediaSmart Smart Menu.
My involvement with Durham University has made me realise that multi-touch is still a fledgling in terms of mainstream classroom technology. They are at the very beginning of four years of research into what multi-touch means for the classroom, so I was surprised to see the SMART Table being released.
On one hand you have an expensive device available for the classroom now and on the other academics still trying to find the answers questions about multiple touch interactivity and how this impacts on collaborative learning and pedagogy. I hope that soon I will be able to see the SMART Table in action and perhaps sound out Steljes, the SMART distributor here in the UK, about the future of multi-touch and what they foresee,
I have had a SMARTBoard in my classroom for five years and I think that multi-touch devices will become a standard for mobile technology, more and more PCs will take advantage of it, to the benefit of future classroom technology. But what is beyond that? Will mainstream multi-touch devices just remain in the hands of our students and be brought into our schools? Will it take so long for all schools to actually be able to afford multi-touch devices that the next development for user/learner information interaction is already becoming a reality?