COST-EFFECTIVE WIIMOTE-BASED TECHNOLOGY- ENHANCED TEACHING AND LEARNING PLATFORM

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1 Proceedings of the 2 nd International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2009) INTI University College, Malaysia COST-EFFECTIVE WIIMOTE-BASED TECHNOLOGY- ENHANCED TEACHING AND LEARNING PLATFORM Soon Nyean Cheong 1, Wen Jiun Yap 2 and Mun Leong Chan 3 Multimedia University, Malaysia ( ABSTRACT In recent years, the use of technological tools to enhance the delivery of teaching materials has gained popularity in universities and has brought positive improvements in the classroom. With advanced hardware, instructors can hand-write notes onto their computer electronically and shared it with the students. While with advanced educational collaborative software, instructor and students can contribute together in a class. However, to acquire such advanced technological tools requires huge amount of investments and therefore most of the developing countries do not have the opportunity to leverage on such effective tools in university. Hence, in this paper, we report an innovative use of Wiimote to create a cost-effective technology-enhanced teaching and learning platform that that serves as alternative to the advanced technological tools for instructors and students in a budgeted environment. The teaching platform comprises of a Wiimote-based multi-touch teaching station, a Wiimote-based interactive whiteboard and a Wiimote-based stylus input conversion tool. KEYWORDS Wiimote, Multi-touch, Interactive whiteboard, Teaching and learning station, Technological tool INTRODUCTION Advancement of educational tools, either hardware or software, has brought positive improvements in the classroom. The adoption of such tools by the instructors eases the daunting task in attempting to deliver complex and large amount of information to the students. With advanced hardware like interactive whiteboard [1], tablet PC [2] and tabletop [3], instructors can hand-write notes electronically and shared it with the students. Although studies on the combinational use of advanced educational tool indicate positive results in students learning when properly implemented [4], [5], acquiring such advanced hardware like tablet PC and tabletop in university requires huge amount of capital. Therefore, a costeffective technology-enhanced teaching and learning platform was designed and developed using Wiimote with an aim to provide an equally effective alternative to the aforementioned advanced educational hardware for instructors and students in a budgeted environment. 1

2 BACKGROUNDS AND RELATED WORKS Interactive whiteboard is a large active display that receives the projection of a computer desktop and accepts user inputs through digital pens to facilitate effective teaching in classroom [1]. There are two types of commonly available interactive whiteboard. The first type uses a large touch screen surface with sensing technology either based on resistive or electromagnetic technology [6]. The second type uses alternative technology to transform existing traditional whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard by capturing user input using optical, ultrasonic or a combination of both [1]. Example of commercially available interactive whiteboard includes Luidia ebeam, Mimio and ACCO Quartet IdeaShare which are priced between USD 1000 to 3000 [7], [8], [9]. Tablet PC, a mobile computer with a digital touch display operates with a stylus or with fingertip instead of a keyboard or mouse meant to facilitate natural writing and drawing, has been adopted in universities of the western countries in the past few years to enhance teaching or learning process [5]. Instructors use tablet PC to hand-write notes onto their computer electronically and shared it with students while students use tablet PC for effective note taking via stylus during a class. Tabletop, a surface on which input sensing and output display are superimposed that serves as a computer with a large horizontal display, has also been adopted in education industry lately in developed countries [10]. Existing tabletop are either built on electronic field sensing technology or camera-based [11]. Tabletop allows multiple interactions from users via touches on table surface providing a more natural user interface for both instructor and students in enhancing their teaching or learning experiences. Example of commercially available tabletop includes the Microsoft Surface and the Diamond Touch, with the upfront cost of hardware and installation of around USD 10K to USD 20K [12]. Wii Remote or better known as Wiimote is the input controller for Nintendo Wii gaming console that uses accelerometers and infrared (IR) sensor to provide accurate and responsive motion sensing capability. Communication between Wiimote and Wii console is realized with Bluetooth wireless technology based on the standard Bluetooth Human Interface Devices (HID) protocol. Wiimote contains a monochrome camera equipped with an IR pass filter in order to detect IR light and ignore visible light. With this specification, movements of IR sources can be tracked by Wiimote and sent to any Bluetooth-enabled computer for further processing. 2

3 SYSTEM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION The Wiimote-based technology-enhanced teaching and learning platform consist of three main systems namely, the Wiimote-based multi-touch teaching station, the Wiimote-based interactive whiteboard and the Wiimote-based stylus input conversion tool. a b c Figure 1. System setup for the Wiimote-based technology-enhanced platform. Wiimote-Based Multi-touch Teaching Station The Wiimote-based multi-touch teaching station is designed to allow instructors to hand draw or write additional notes easily when conducting a class. Fig. 1a shows the hardware design for the Wiimote-based multi-touch teaching station. Projector is used to project educational materials from the CPU to the glass surface on the table. The use of mirror reduces the cost of obtaining a short throw digital projector to a standard digital projector by creating a virtual distance between the projector and the table surface. The table surface consists of a glass covered with tracing paper as a diffuser to serve as the projection screen. The Wiimote is used to trace IR sources on the table surface and is placed on top of projector lens for optimum IR detection. A Bluetooth dongle is added to the normal classroom PC to allow communication with the Wiimote. The IR ring or pen is use to provide coordinate by instructor when it is touched on the table surface and subsequently converted to a mouse click on educational content. Once the Wiimote detects any IR sources on the table surface, the position of the IR blobs will be continuously sent to the CPU as serial data. The processing of this data to support multi-touch interaction is handled by the Multi-touch teaching module, developed with various software libraries of different functionalities. The main components of the Multitouch teaching module are the WiimoteWhiteboard, the WiimoteTUIO and the Multi-touch educational content. The WiimoteWhiteboard module maps any detected IR blobs on the table surface in 3D space coordinates to computer desktop coordinates [13] while communicating with the Wiimote using the WiimoteLib [25]. The WiimoteTUIO module then sends out detected IR blobs as desktop coordinates in TUIO messages, which are simple UDP messages based on OSC (Open Sound Controller) protocol [15]. The Multi-touch educational content was developed with Adobe Flash using ActionScript 3.0 to capitalize on its highly compelling nature in presenting and manipulating multimedia elements [16]. In order for Multi-touch educational content to receive TUIO messages from the WiimoteTUIO module, the TUIO data in UDP packages has to be first converted to XML messages in TCP

4 packages. This is done via FLOSC, a software tool written in Java that acts as a proxy to receive TUIO messages from the UDP port 3333 and sends XML messages to the TCP port The flow of the data, begins with the touches of the instructor on the table surface to the Multi-touch educational content is shown in Figure 2. Figure 2. The data path from touches on table surface to Multi-touch educational content. Wiimote-Based Interactive Whiteboard The Wiimote-based interactive whiteboard was designed to economically and conveniently transform existing traditional whiteboard to enable instructor and students to write digitally on the whiteboard using an IR pen. A Wiimote attaching to a tripod positioning towards the whiteboard, a Bluetooth dongle inserting to a computer and an IR pen hold by user, are the additional hardware components needed to complement an existing modern classroom that is already equipped with a standard computer, a standard projector and a traditional whiteboard to construct an interactive whiteboard as displayed in Fig. 1b. Besides the necessary hardware, a calibration program running in the computer is needed to set the boundary of the writing area and generates a transformation matrix [13]. The program is written in.net and immensely depends on the Managed Library for Nintendo s Wiimote, a.net library to connect and use the Wiimote [14]. This matrix is used to map the location of every IR blob detected on the whiteboard to the corresponding location on the computer desktop. The positioning data is then used by a custom-made Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) application to receive and display digital ink from students. Wiimote-Based Stylus Input Conversion Tool The Wiimote-based stylus input conversion tool was designed to convert a standard computer monitor into a digital IR touch display operated by an IR pen that facilitates natural writing and drawing for students. The conversion tool requires a Wiimote mounted on a tripod pointing towards the monitor, a flat screen protector, a Bluetooth dongle and an IR pen as shown in Fig. 1c. The working principal for the conversion tool is similar to the Wiimotebased interactive whiteboard discussed earlier. However, instead of converting area of a traditional whiteboard to be written digitally, the conversion tool transforms area of a monitor display to accept digital ink. Additional flat screen protector is used to generate transformation matrix of better accuracy when it is use with old CRT non-flat screen display. The software requirement remains the same as the calibration program that is used in the Wiimote-based interactive whiteboard discussed earlier. 4

5 RESULTS a b c d Figure 3. Actual implementation of the Wiimote-based technology-enhanced teaching and learning platform. Prototype for the Wiimote-based technology-enhanced teaching and learning platform has been implemented in Multimedia University and is shown in Fig. 3. Fig. 3a shows an instructor using an IR pen to draw electronic circuit while Fig. 3b shows an instructor wearing an IR ring to access the educational content using the Wiimote-based Multi-touch teaching station. Fig. 3c shows the Wiimote-based interactive whiteboard being used by an instructor to write digital notes via IR pen. During the prototype evaluation, most of the instructors raised the same problem of occlusion. This is because the Wiimote view of the IR pen is easily blocked by the body parts of the educator and therefore the tracking of the IR blob is occasionally lost. A very useful observation found is that, the Wiimote should always be viewed from the opposite direction of the handedness of the instructor. For example, if the instructor is right-handed, then the Wiimote should be viewed from the left side of the whiteboard and this solution shows significant improvement to the occlusion problem. Fig. 3d shows a student taking notes using an IR pen on top of the lecture slides with Classroom Presenter software on a converted digital IR touch display. The hardware cost involved in deploying the Wiimote-based technology-enhanced teaching and learning platform is summarized in Table 1 which is much cheaper as compared with off-the-shelves products. Table 1. Hardware cost involved in developing the Wiimote-based technology-enhanced teaching and learning platform. Components Multi-touch Teaching Station Price (Ringgit Malaysia) Wiimote-Based Interactive Whiteboard Wiimote-Based Stylus Input Conversion Tool Wiimote Bluetooth dongle IR pen Tripod Table Mirror Projector Flat screen protector (optional) Total

6 CONCLUSION In this paper, the design of a cost-effective technology-enhanced teaching platform using Wiimote is presented. The platform consists of a Wiimote-based multi-touch teaching station, a Wiimote-based interactive whiteboard and a Wiimote-based stylus input conversion tool that provides alternative solution to the functionality of the advanced technological hardware in universities. This platform aims to enhance delivery of teaching materials to students with a minimum of upgrading cost. As the current system is only at the prototyping stage, full scale implementation of the platform in a classroom to test the effectiveness of the system for both instructor and students will be realized in the future. REFERENCES 1. Wikipedia, Interactive whiteboard, 2. Wolfe, A. (2002). Putting Pen to Screen on Tablet PCs. IEEE Spectrum. 39(10), Scott, S., Carpendale, S. (2006). Guest editors' introduction: interacting with digital tabletops. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications: Special Issue on Interacting with Digital Tabletops. 26(5), Toto, R., Lim, K.Y., Nguyen, H., Zappe, S., Litzinger, T. (2008). Acceptance of Tablet PC Technology by Engineering Faculty. Proceeding of 38th ASEE/IEEE Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. S4D-7-T1A Wilkerson, M., Griswold, W.G., Simon, B. (2005). Ubiquitous Presenter: Increasing Student Access and Control in a Digital Lecturing Environment. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin. 37(1), Wikipedia, SMART Board interactive whiteboard, 7. ebeam, Interactive Whiteboard Technology, 8. mimio, Interactive whiteboard, virtual whiteboard, whiteboards, 9. ACCO, Whiteboards, Buisine, S., Besacier, G., Najm, M., Aoussat, A., Vernier, F. (2007). Computer-Supported Creativity: Evaluation of a Tabletop Mind-Map Application. In: D. Harris (ed.) Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics. HCII 2007, LNAI 4562, pp Springer-Verlag 11. Jefferson, Y.H. (2005). Low-cost multi-touch sensing through frustrated total internal reflection. Proceedings of the 18th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology, pp Seattle 6

7 12. TechPin Coolest Tech News: DiamondTouch vs Surface, Projects - Wii, Peek, B., Coding4Fun - Managed Library for Nintendo s Wiimote, Wright, M., Freed, A., Momeni, A. 2003). OpenSound Control: State of the Art Proceedings of the 2003 Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, pp Montreal, Canada ( 16. Peters, K. (2007). Foundation ActionScript 3.0 Animation: Making Things Move! Berkeley Apress

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