Classroom 2000 Overview

Gregory Abowd
Chris Atkeson
College of Computing and GVU Center
Georgia Tech

Classroom 2000: Ubiquitous Computing in Education

The goal of the Classroom 2000 project, initiated at Georgia Tech in July 1995, is to investigate the impact of ubiquitous computing in education. We want to improve professor and student capabilities and increase educational engagement both inside and outside the classroom. Our initial approach is to augment the actual classroom, by augmenting existing media such as chalkboards and paper with electronic media. These electronic media will enable us to extend beyond the space and time boundaries imposed by traditional classrooms. Our ultimate goal is to revolutionize the classroom experience through the evolutionary introduction of ubiquitous computing technology.

Ubiquitous Computing and Applications Research

The interest in ubiquitous computing has surged over the past few years. The defining characteristic of ubiquitous computing is the attempt to break away from the traditional desktop interaction paradigm and move computational power into the environment that surrounds the user. As Mark Weiser has observed, ``Applications are of course the whole point of ubiquitous computing.'' The Future Computing Environments Group at Georgia Tech, under the guidance of the authors, is taking this applications perspective to guide the discovery of fundamental research challenges in ubiquitous computing.

Specifically, in the Classroom 2000 project we are working to automate the capture of individual and group experiences in order to facilitate access to a richly integrated record of events. We refer to this as the automated capture, integration and access problem for ubiquitous computing [Abowd 96]. We take an applications focus in approaching this problem. Natural candidates for the capture, integration and access tools are collaborative activities ---meetings, education, design. Whereas previous research in ubiquitous computing has focused on support for a single individual in the midst of a collaborative exchange, we will apply capture, integration and access tools to support many simultaneous collaborators.

Much of the research focus in this proposal has an immediate relevance toward education. We expect to make a significant impact on educational practices by evaluating the effectiveness of ubiquitous computing technology ---handheld devices, pen-based interfaces and cross-platform software delivery. As students and teachers experiment with the tools and new modes of interaction that are enabled by our technology, we expect new forms of education to emerge if we can show that they provide ways to motivate and energize both teacher and student.

Building the Classroom for the Future

In the College of Computing, we have built an experimental classroom so that we can observe the use of our systems in actual classroom settings. Here we describe some of the features of this classroom of the future, involving interactive public and private surfaces, and ubiquitous audio and video capture equipment.

Interactive surfaces

Our first step is to increase faculty productivity by effectively utilizing modern electronic presentation devices. Lectures are complemented with a presentation on a high-resolution, large, interactive display device. The teachers or students can share prepared materials during the class, and are also able to write or draw on the electronic display. This public display must be the scale of a normal classroom whiteboard, which covers as much of the walls in the room as possible.

We are also interested in providing a variety of private interactive surfaces. We have experimented with electronic notebooks for students in the form of pen-based computers. We have also provided traditional workstations around the periphery of the classroom. The display from these peripheral workstations can be All actions by the presenter, the contents of the display at each instant, and audio and video recordings will be captured and stored for distance learning, presentation time shifting, and later review by students.

Electronic Notes

Increasing student productivity is also important. Each seat in this classroom will have an inexpensive pen sensitive display device. A student will be able to take electronic notes, either by writing on "blank pages" or by annotating an electronic copy of the presentation on the main display. The time when notes were written will be automatically recorded, allowing students reviewing their notes to recreate what was happening in the classroom at any time. Students will be able to review their notes at home using standard personal computers connected to the Internet, either through modems, or through direct Internet connections in the dorm room, classroom, or library.

Tracking Student Knowledge

Ultimately, we want to know what each individual student knows so we can teach more effectively, and students could utilize their past course work more effectively. By retaining these type of records of what is actually presented in classes for several years, professors will be able to prepare more effective presentations by efficiently looking at what actually happened in prerequisite classes. Lectures could refer to previously presented concepts, and put more emphasis on ideas that had not been presented before. A student that is confused by the concept of "conservation of energy" can review the classes he took previously by asking the system to access previous classes in which that concept was discussed. Another student could also review by asking to see any classes, including classes that she has not taken, in which the concept of conservation of energy was used.

Active Learning

The deepest and longest lasting learning takes place when students take control of their own learning. The electronic classroom will allow students to take control in new ways. In a typical classroom the person who holds the chalk is in charge, and everyone else is a passive observer. The student computers will allow each student to take charge of the main display to explain their ideas. New forms of student collaboration could also be explored, where electronic voting or consensus forming could be used by all the students to guide what happens in the class.

Personal Tutor

The standard of performance we seek for this system is to make each student feel as if they have had a personal tutor throughout their educational career. This tutor would know what the student knows, assist the student in linking previous knowledge to new knowledge, and help the student understand and avoid previous mistakes. As the computer's ability to understand speech and handwriting increases, we expect to transition from the Electronic Classroom to the Intelligent Classroom.

The General Capture, Access and Integration Problem

Rather than force the user to search out and find the computer's interface, ubiquitous computing suggests a different paradigm in which the interface itself can take on the responsibility of locating and serving the user. The history of computing is filled with examples of radical paradigm shifts in the way humans interact with and perceive technology [Dix et al. 93, Ch. 4]. The vision of ubiquitous computing ---first expressed by Weiser [Weiser 91] and grounded in experimental work done at Xerox PARC--- holds the promise of yet another interaction paradigm shift.

What is ubiquitous computing technology? Our general working definition is any computing technology that permits human interaction away from a single workstation. This includes pen-based technology, hand-held or portable devices, large-scale interactive screens, wireless networking infrastructure, and voice or vision technology.

As Weiser points out, ``Applications are of course the whole point of ubiquitous computing.'' [Weiser 93] There are three major research themes that generalize some of this applications focus:

The work on automated capture, integration, and access has been greatly influenced by the work at Xerox PARC in ubiquitous computing [Weiser 91, Weiser 93] and tools to support electronic capture and access of collaborative activities [Minneman et al. 95, Moran et al. 96, Moran et al. 97].

The Marquee note-taking prototype developed at PARC [Weber and Poon 94], the Filochat prototype developed at Hewlett-Packard Labs [Whittaker et al. 94], and the Dynomite personal note-taking environment from FX-PAL [Wilcox et al. 97], provide a personal electronic, pen-based note-taking device . Augmented Paper-based solutions to note-taking have also been researched by Stifelman [Hindus and Schmandt 92] and at Apple [Degen et al. 92].


Go here for more Classroom 2000 publications.

Gregory D. Abowd. Ubiquitous Computing: Research Themes and Open Issues from an Applications Perspective. GVU Technical Report GIT-GVU-96-24. December 1996. Postscript version. Gregory D. Abowd, Chris Atkeson, Ami Feinstein, Cindy Hmelo, Rob Kooper, Sue Long, Nitin "Nick" Sawhney and Mikiya Tani. Teaching and Learning as Multimedia Authoring: The Classroom 2000 Project. In the Proceedings of the ACM Multimedia'96 Conference, November 1996. HTML version

L. Degen, R. Mander, and G. Salomon. Working with audio: Integrating personal tape recorders and desktop computers. In Proceedings of ACM CHI'92 Conference, pages 413-418, May 1992.

A. Dix, J. Finlay, G. Abowd and R. Beale. Human-Computer Interaction, Prentice-Hall International, 1993.

D. Hindus and C. Schmandt. Ubiquitous audio: Capturing spontaneous collaboration. In Proceedings of ACM CSCW'92 Conference, pages 210-217, 1992.

S. Minneman, S. Harrison, W. Janssen, G. Kurtenbach, T. Moran, I. Smith, and W. van Melle. A confederation of tools for capturing and accessing collaborative activity. In Proceedings of the ACM Multimedia'95 Conference, pages 523-534, November 1995.

T. Moran, P. Chiu, S. Harrison, G. Kurtenbach, S. Minneman, and W. van Melle. Evolutionary engagement in an ongoing collaborative work process: A case study. In Proceedings of ACM CSCW'96 Conference, 1996.

T. P. Moran, L. Palen, S. Harrison, P. Chiu, D. Kimber, S. Minneman, W. van Melle and P. Zelweger. "I'll Get That Off the Audio": A Case Study of Salvaging Multimedia Meeting Records. Proceedings of the ACM CHI'97 Conference, pages 202--209, March 1997.

K. Weber and A. Poon. A tool for real-time video logging. In Proceedings of ACM CHI'94 Conference, pages 58-64, April 1994.

L. J. Stifelman. Augmenting real-world objects: A paper-based audio notebook. In Proceedings of ACM CHI'96 Conference, pages 199-200, April 1996. Short paper.

M. Weiser. The computer of the 21st century. Scientific American, 265(3):66-75, September 1991.

M. Weiser. Some computer science issues in ubiquitous computing. Communications of the ACM, 36(7):75-84, July 1993. S. Whittaker, P. Hyland, and M. Wiley. Filochat: Handwritten notes provide access to recorded conversations. In Proceedings of ACM CHI'94 Conference, pages 271-277, April 1994.

L. Wilcox, B. Schilit and N. Sawhney. Dynomite: A Dynamically Organized Ink and Audio Notebook. In Proceedings of ACM CHI'97 Conference, March 1997.

Future Computing Environments Georgia Institute of Technology