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Computer Science Department

The DyKnow Project: Designing and Evaluating Groupware to Support a Pen-based Electronic Classroom

Dave Berque works on research projects related to pen-based computing,  persuasive technology, and computer supported collaborative work. All three of these areas fall under a sub-field of Computer Science called Human Computer Interaction.

Pen-based computing involves the design and evaluation of software systems that use pens, rather than keyboards and mice, as their primary input mechanism.  Persuasive technology involves the design and evaluation of software and other technologies that is designed to influence human behavior or attitudes.  Finally, computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) is the branch of computer science that deals with the design and evaluation of software systems that help groups of people work together. Such software systems are often called groupware.

For the past several years we have been working on a CSCW project that involves the design and evaluation of groupware to support a pen-based electronic classroom. In this classroom, teacher's notes, consisting of typed text, imported images, and freehand notes written on a pen-based Video Tablet, a Tablet PC, or an electronic blackboard are transmitted to computers at each student's desk. At the same time, each student can use an electronic pen or keyboard to annotate a personal copy of these notes and save them for future replay and study. Student work can also be transmitted to front of the room for display and discussion.

Students Working in a Fixed-Seat Electronic Classroom


An Example of Content Entered with a Digital Pen

A precursor of the current system began as a research project at DePauw University and has been extended into a commercial software system named DyKnow Vision ( that has been used by tens of thousands of students at schools across the country. As we gain more experience using the system we continue to find rich open questions that need further exploration.  Issues range from the design, development, and evaluation of new system features that will enhance the type of collaborative learning that the system supports to the exploration of new algorithms for efficiently dealing with digital ink.  Additional projects have explored assistive technology issues such as developing customized versions of the software to serve students with low-vision.

Dozens of students have assisted with this project and many have been the co-authors of publications that describe our work