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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Steve Higgins

Mercier, Emma M., Higgins, Steven E. & Joyce-Gibbons, A. (2016). The effects of room design on computer-supported collaborative learning in a multi-touch classroom. Interactive Learning Environments 24(3): 504-522.

Author(s) from Durham


While research indicates that technology can be useful for supporting learning and collaboration, there is still relatively little uptake or widespread implementation of these technologies in classrooms. In this paper, we explore one aspect of the development of a multi-touch classroom, looking at two different designs of the classroom environment to explore how classroom layout may influence group interaction and learning. Three classes of students working in groups of four were taught in the traditional forward-facing room condition, while three classes worked in a centered room condition. Our results indicate that while the outcomes on tasks were similar across conditions, groups engaged in more talk (but not more off-task talk) in a centered room layout, than in a traditional forward-facing room. These results suggest that the use of technology in the classroom may be influenced by the location of the technology, both in terms of the learning outcomes and the interaction behaviors of students. The findings highlight the importance of considering the learning environment when designing technology to support learning, and ensuring that integration of technology into formal learning environments is done with attention to how the technology may disrupt, or contribute to, the classroom interaction practices.