Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH) (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 3361-3371
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.0961
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
When used appropriately, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can transform learning into an engaging and interactive process and enhance teaching with the use of educator-oriented tools. In particular, “Intelligent Classrooms” offer students and educators opportunities such as access to advanced X-Reality technologies that change the way students learn, employment of virtual agents or robots as personal assistants, and real time monitoring of human behavior in order to initiate interventions that help individuals in need.

The “Intelligent Classroom” of ICS-FORTH constitutes a simulation space of a real classroom enhanced with state of the art technologies, amongst which a wall-to-wall projected interactive board, technologically-augmented student desks, a teacher workstation, and various ambient facilities (e.g. motorized blinds, smart lights). Research has shown that, in such environments, educators must not feel intimidated or overwhelmed by the technology; on the contrary, interaction with the system must be natural and effortless (e.g. writing on a digital board should be similar to writing on a plain whiteboard). Additionally, overutilization of technology should be avoided, so as to not completely alter the nature of the classroom environment and negatively influence the education process; therefore, when not required, intelligent facilities should be deactivated to minimize distractions (e.g. projected areas remain dark when idle).

Given the above high-level requirements, this work presents the “CognitOS Classboard”, an educator-oriented environment featuring a variety of tools and applications to support lecturing, student management and course preparation in the “Intelligent Classroom”.

In more detail, through the “CognitOS Classboard” educators can:
- Use an interactive marker to sketch, handwrite notes on the wall (as one would do on a common whiteboard), and interact with any of the projected UI elements.
- Organize the applications required for a specific lecture into a collection of workspaces (e.g. the Chemistry workspace contains the periodic table pinned at a certain spot on the wall).
- Create immersive experiences by selecting multimedia to be projected on the walls. Such a facility could enable interaction with the real world in ways that were not possible before (e.g. immerse students into a rainforest).
- Use Χ Reality technologies to create highly compelling learning experiences (e.g. project the rivers of a country over its physical map), through which students can explore and improve different skills.
- Access useful educational applications (e.g. Quiz, Dictionary, Multimedia Viewer).

In the above context, multimodal interaction is supported through:
i) multi-touch either on the wall or on the educator’s personal device (e.g. tablet),
ii) mid-air gestures,
iii) voice commands, and
iv) user position tracking (e.g. the educator can select an application to follow him/her as he moves around). Finally, the system has the ability to identify the height of the user and adjust the position of certain elements, so as to bring them within reach.

A heuristic evaluation experiment was conducted to eliminate any major usability errors before proceeding with user testing, while the next steps include the realization of a user-based evaluation with educators of various grades.
Intelligent Classroom, Class Board, Smart Classroom, Ambient Intelligence, Immersive Environments, Interactive Wall.