TEM - Education
Classroom in Karnataka

A long-time research interest for the group explores the use of computing in education. Research projects in this area span work with both formal and informal learning, addressing the needs of children, college students and adults.


We examine how technology can enhance the educational experience of teachers and learners while recognizing the constraints that most organizations and schools face regarding budgets, user familiarity with technology, and challenging learning environments and infrastructure. 



Example education projects from TEM




MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courses) have garnered enormous attention for their potential to drastically change how higher education is conducted throughout the world by offering free online educational videos from top professors in their field. While MOOCs have received enrollments from motivated self-learners worldwide, institutional adoption of MOOCs has been slow. We propose an alternate model called MECs (Massively Empowered Classrooms), which retains the benefit of massive online collaboration during learning, while empowering teachers in adopting institutions by and keeping content closely tied to their curriculum. 

MEC is unique from other learning platforms in that it works directly with university systems to sync the video lectures with the course syllabus, and work with local teachers to use MEC content in the classroom to supplement existing lectures. Our motivation for MECs came from talking with educators in India, where there is a great disparity in the quality of education, and difficulties associated with scale.

For more information, check out the MEC homepage.




Recent efforts by organizations like Coursera, edX, Udacity and Khan Academy have produced thousands of free educational videos online. While the presentation style of the videos varies depending on the author, they all share a common drawback: videos and courses are time-consuming to produce and cannot be easily modified after release. This limitation is a significant obstacle to updating content after the initial video release, or easily porting videos in English to other languages. With that in mind, we built VidWiki, an online platform to leverage the massive numbers of online students viewing videos to iteratively improve video presentation quality and content, similar to other crowdsourced information projects like Wikipedia.

Through the platform, users annotate videos by overlaying content on top of the video, lifting the burden on the instructor to update and refine content. Layering annotations such as text, equations, or images also assists in video indexing, language translation, and replacing illegible handwriting or drawings with more readable typed content.

For more information, check out the VidWiki project page.




qCards are a low-cost alternative to electronic response systems (i.e. i>clicker) using a mobile phone or laptop/webcam, and paper cards for voting. Our approach allows teachers to ask a multiple-choice question. Students respond by holding up a sheet of paper that contains a printed code, similar to a QR code, encoding their answers as well as their student IDs. Using a mobile phone, or laptop and an off-the-shelf webcam, our software automatically recognizes and aggregates the students’ responses and displays them to the teacher. Each card is unique, identified by the code printed on the card; students answer A, B, C, or D by rotating their qCard in one of four orientations, associated with the letters written on the back of each qCard.

We built this system and performed initial trials in secondary schools in Bangalore, India. In a typical 30-student classroom, our system offers 94% recognition accuracy, captures 95% of responses within 15 seconds, and costs 20x less than existing electronic solutions. We also conducted a large-scale test at the 2012 ACM User Interface Software and Technology conference polling roughly 300 people, capturing 90% of responses and with 98% accuracy.

For more information, check out the qCards project page.




A distinct feature observed in computer use in schools or rural kiosks in developing countries is the high student-to-computer ratio. It is not unusual to see more than five children crowding around a single display, as schools are rarely funded to afford one PC per child in a classroom. One dominant child controls the mouse, while others are passive onlookers, without operational control of the computer. The dominant child is often the most intelligent, the richest or simply the oldest child in the group. Learning benefits appear to accrue primarily to this child with the mouse, with the other children missing out and losing interest. Given this constraint, our group began research ways to extend single computers to accommodate entire classrooms.

MultiPoint provides each child with a mouse and cursor on screen, thus effectively multiplying the amount of interaction per student per PC, for the cost of a few extra mice. Trials with both single-mouse and multiple-mice scenarios suggest that children are more engaged when in control of a mouse, and that more mice increases overall engagement, or connection with on-screen content. Large scale field experiments with over 200 students in rural Karnataka have shown strong educational benefits in using multiple mice. The technology to build applications like this has been released as the Windows MultiPoint Mouse SDK so that any content developer can build educational content using multiple mice.

For more information, check out the Windows MultiPoint Mouse homepage.




Collage is a software presentation tool that has been created exclusively for supporting instruction in K-12 classrooms. The tool enables teachers to display digital scans of textbook pages along with digital multimedia in an interactive fashion. For example, an teacher giving a science lesson on the solar system and blend images and text from the textbook with additional multimedia resources like videos or other interactive content. The goal of the tool is to enable teachers to easily mix and match content for their lesson, both from traditional resources like textbooks and from the increasingly large database of open educational resources available for usage worldwide.

Teachers need to assemble content in digital form before using it with Collage. This involves collecting any digital images or videos that they are interested in presenting in class and scanning paper content (like textbook pages) that may be relevant. While presenting the content, the tools enables teachers to do interesting things like highlight parts of pages, digitally “ink” on them, overlay an image or video on top of a page, insert textboxes, and dynamically cover and uncover parts of pages.

For more information, check out the Collage project page.




There is increasing pressure for schools to expose their students to computers. However, the unbalanced computer-to-student ratio that prevails in resource constrained schools limits the effectiveness of using the computers as learning tools. One solution is Windows MultiPoint Mouse, which allows multiple students to interact with a single computer, thereby reducing the financial cost of buying and maintaining computers in schools, and enabling students to work together collaboratively on computer assignments. While effective, MultiPoint applications developed by outside vendors and do not always meet the everyday curricula needs of teachers.

To enable teachers to fully benefit from MultiPoint while effectively covering their curricula goals, we developed Cloze, an authoring tool, which simplifies content creation for MultiPoint applications. Targeted at teachers with minimal computer skills, Cloze enables them to replicate common interactive classroom activities using MultiPoint without having to write a single line of code.

For more information, check out this paper written on the Cloze project.