Here are several ideas:
  1. PDAs in classroom setting
  2. Research in intuitive user interfaces with text-to-speech (TTS)
  3. Research in intuitive user interfaces for dictation software
  4. Audiotexts
PDAs in classroom setting [top]
Classroom teaching needs to be adapted to children’s new environments and ways of learning. Children are attracted to interactive video games that follow a story line. The video games are engaging for hours. Many games follow a story line where the character is on adventure. The children experientially learn about the adventure world. Technology can be applied in the classroom to create similar learning experiences.

Proposed Research: 
Use technology to design experiential learning

Examples of technology in the classroom:
An interactive environment can be setup in the classroom. Equipped with computers the students can send questions to the teacher, collaborate on an in class assignment, lookup information on web-pages. Also using computers can reduce the overhead of administering quizzes. The research question is how to design the technology and evaluate its effectiveness. 

Another example is to present the class material in the form of an adventure. The teacher moves through a castle when teaching Math. The castle represents the topic of mathematics and the individual rooms are the sub-fields, such as algebra, geometry, etc. So if the dungeon is the room for geometry, then to discuss geometry, the teacher takes the students to the dungeon. The adventure shows the students how the sub-fields relate to one another and fit into the overall field. This could be done with augmented reality technology. 

Research in intuitive user interfaces with text-to-speech (TTS) [top]
A TTS interface can improve a user’s experience on a desktop. It is more relaxing to listen instead of reading large portions of text. It is good for the blind, slow readers, and less straining for the eyes. The sighted would be able to view images simultaneously while listening to text describing them. 

Proposed Research: 
Design intuitive user interfaces for text-to-speech

1. Improve the mechanism of selecting text. Currently the text to be spoken needs to be highlighted and copied. A more intuitive user interface would be to start reading the text according to position of the cursor.
2. Improve the mechanism to stop and resume the reading, which is currently controlled with buttons.  Using the buttons requires the overhead of moving a mouse to and from the buttons. A better technique would be to allow any keystroke to interrupt the reading; for example while proofreading a text the person will interrupt the reader to make changes to the text. Following interruption the cursor is placed at the last word that is read, which is likely to be close to the edited word.

Research in intuitive user interfaces for dictation software [top]
  • Shortcomings of existing user interface for dictation software is latency. An artifact of speech to text software is considerable latency or delay of several seconds for the text to be produced. The latency affects the manner in which the person interacts with the software; after speaking the person has to wait to view and correct the text. A research question would be how to design the user interaction to get around the delay.
  • Importance of short-term memory in writing. Help people with limited short-term memory to write. Existing dictation software is useful to people with graphomotor dysfunction, i.e. problems with writing words and sentences. It also can aid those writing with limited short-term memory.  Dr. Levine describes how short-term memory is one of five components needed for the skill of writing. A research question would be how to extend dictation software to be used to organize thoughts, such as when creating an outline.

Proposed Research: 

  • Design the user interaction to get around the delay problem.
  • Extend dictation software to help organize thoughts for writing
Dictation software is hands-free which means even punctuation must be pronounced by the speaker. Saying “Period” or “Comma” while dictating interrupts the natural thought flow.  An enhancement to dictation software would be to allow the person to use the keyboard to place punctuation while speaking. Currently however, the speech and keyboard strokes are not coordinated. So placing punctuation with the keyboard does not guarantee it being placed correctly in the text equivalent of the speech. (After I had this thought Scansoft released Dragon Naturally  Speaking v7 which already does this.)  
Audiotexts [top]
Some people must be provided with alternative access to the power of the written word. The blind are unable to read conventional books.  People with dyslexia or other reading disabilities have trouble efficiently decoding the written word. Even people without a disability could benefit from an alternative to reading material; for example, when riding the bus, instead of reading they could listen to the text, as an audiotext. Audiotexts would give similar information as from reading conventional books.  

Proposed Research:
Find audio techniques to convey text and its structure. 

Enabling technologies project:


 top * home * academics
dorian miller, 4/26/2003