Developing a smart classroom infrastructure to support real-time student collaboration and inquiry: a 4-year design study

Mike Tissenbaum, James D. Slotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


K-12 classroom settings are not yet incorporating emerging technologies such as ubiquitous computing, augmented reality, nor even touch surfaces, despite the significant impact that such media have made in many other aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, classroom environments have not generally evolved to support students in the new modes of collaboration, idea sharing, and inquiry that characterize many of our research-based innovations. Responding to this challenge, our research was conducted by a multi-disciplinary design team including educational researchers, a high school physics teacher, and technology designers. We embarked on a series of design-based research projects to investigate a smart classroom infrastructure that scaffolds students and teachers in new forms of collaboration and inquiry, including a substantive role for large projected displays and small touch surfaces, as well as a dependency on students’ physical location within the room. This paper describes our designs, including: (1) the role of large displays for communicating aggregate and ambient information, (2) the role of real-time communication between students, (3) the application of intelligent software agents to enact real-time pedagogical logic, (4) support for learning across contexts, and (5) orchestration of inquiry roles, materials and environments. These designs are particularly relevant for the Learning Sciences community, as they offer insight into how the orchestrated classroom can support new forms of collaborative, cooperative and collective inquiry. One important outcome of this work is a set of design principles for supporting smart classroom research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-462
Number of pages40
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Computer supported collaborative learning
  • Design-based research
  • Distributed intelligence
  • Future learning spaces
  • Learning communities
  • Smart classrooms
  • Technology enhanced learning environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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