The Aptness of Tangible User Interfaces for Explaining Abstract Computer Network Principles

Computer-Aided Instruction Computer Networks Tangible User Interface Protocol Visualisation

De Raffaele, C., Smith, S. and Gemikonakli, O., 2016, October. The aptness of Tangible User Interfaces for explaining abstract computer network principles. In 2016 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp. 1-8). IEEE.


Dr. Ing. Clifford De Raffaele Researcher
Dr. Serengul Smith Researcher


The technological deployment of Tangible User Interfaces (TUI) with their intrinsic ability to interlink the physical and digital domains, have steadily gained interest within the educational sector. As a concrete example of Reality Based Interaction, such digital manipulatives have been successfully implemented in the past years to introduce scientific and engineering concepts at earlier stages throughout the educational cycle. With difference to literature, this research investigates the suitability and effectiveness of implementing a TUI system to enhance the learning experience in a higher education environment. The proposal targets the understanding of advanced computer networking principles by the deployment of an interactive table-top system. Beyond the mere simulation and modelling of networking topologies, the design presents students the ability to directly interact with and visualise the protocol execution, hence augmenting their ability to understand the abstract nature of such algorithms. Following deployment of the proposed innovate prototype within the delivery of a university undergraduate programme, the quantitative effectiveness of this novel methodology will be assessed from both a teaching and learning perspective on its ability to convey the abstract notions of computer network principles.


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