Kianzad, S. (2021). "Magic Pen: A versatile digital manipulative for learning." Ph.D. Thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Digital manipulatives such as robots are an opportunity for interactive and engaging learning activities. The addition of haptic and specifically force feedback to digital manipulatives can enrich the learning of science-related concepts by building physical intuition. As a result, learners can design experiments and physically explore them to solve problems they have posed. In my thesis, I present the evolution of the design and evaluation of a versatile digital manipulative – called MagicPen – in a human-centered design context. First, I investigate how force feedback can enable learners to fluidly express their ideas. I identify three core interactions as bases for physically assisted sketching (phasking). Then, I show how using these interactions improves the accuracy of users’ drawings as well as their authority in creative works. In the next phase, I demonstrate the potential benefits of using force feedback in a collaborative learning framework, in a manner that is generalizable beyond the device we invented and lends insight on how haptics can empower digital manipulatives to express advanced concept by means of the behaviour of a virtual avatar and the respective feeling of force feedback. This informs our device’s capability for learning advanced concepts in classroom settings and further considerations for the next iterations of the MagicPen. Based on the findings of how haptic feedback could assist with design and exploration in learning, In the last phase of my thesis, I propose a framework for physically assisted learning (PAL) which links the expression and exploration of an idea. Furthermore, I explain how to instantiate the PAL framework using available technologies and discuss a path forward to a larger vision of physically assisted learning. PAL highlights the role of haptics in future "objects-to-think-with".