This site contains the latest information about Durham University’s on-going research concerning Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). This site also provides links to past TEL research carried out at the University.

The Durham University Technology Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (DU-TEL-SIG) is currently responsible for on-going research in TEL.

Previously, TEL research was carried out by the Technology Enhanced Learning Lab (TEL-lab).

New Publication: Facilitating collaborative learning between two primary schools using large multi-touch devices

Earlier this month the DU-TEL-SIG had a paper published in the Journal of Computers in Education. “Facilitating collaborative learning between two primary schools using large multi-touch devices” is a case-study detailing the technical challenges and solutions of using SynergyNet to support collaboration between two remote locations. The paper is open-access and available here.



This paper presents a technical case study and the associated research software/hardware underpinning an educational research trial in which large touchscreen interfaces were used to facilitate collaborative interactions between primary school students at separate locations. As part of the trial, an application for supporting a collaborative classroom activity was created which allowed students at either location to transfer resources to the students at the other via a ‘flick’ gesture. The trial required several novel innovations to the existing SynergyNet software framework to enable it to support synchronous remote collaboration. The innovations enabled the first successful classroom collaboration activities between two separate locations within the United Kingdom using large touchscreen interfaces. This paper details the challenges encountered in implementing these innovations and their solutions.



J. McNaughton, T. Crick, A. Joyce-Gibbons, G. Beauchamp, N. Young, and E. Tan. Facilitating Collaborative Learning Between Two Primary Schools Using Large Multi-Touch Devices. Journal of Computers in Education, pp. 1–14, 2017

DU-TEL-SIG Event (October 2016)

Earlier in October the DU-TEL-SIG organised a public talk named “Developing cognitive and social skills through the computing curriculum and digital learning”, where members of the group were joined by Gary Beauchamp, Tom Crick and Nick Young from Cardiff Metropolitan University. The event was open to public and was attended by over 30 post graduate students and teachers from the local area. At this talk Tom Crick, Gary Beauchamp and Steve Higgins (with input from others) discussed the future of technology enhanced learning following the (re)introduction of computing to the KS1-4 curriculum in England.

This discussion was followed by separate group sessions where anonymised data from the recent remote collaboration trial was the focus of both. One group discussed trends and points of interest arising from the data whereas the other was given a demonstration on how the recordings from the study were systematically coded to produce quantitative data with the SynergyView tool. The two groups then came together again to discuss outcomes from the sessions and for a final question and answer session. During this final session potential applications and implications of the findings and technologies produced from the DU-TEL-SIG’s latest study were discussed in detail.

The talk formed part of a two day workshop for all the researchers involved in the remote collaboration trial that took place earlier this year to discuss findings and next steps relating to the trial and Technology Enhanced Learning in general. There are several outcomes from this workshop including various publications and plans for further studies. News on these are planned to appear on this site in the near future.

Photos courtesy of Nick Young.

Remote Collaboration with Network Flick

The SynergyNet framework, originally developed by the TEL-lab, has long supported a feature known as network flick. This feature allows for content to be passed between interfaces with an intuitive gesture, as shown in the video below.

Network flick has previously found little use due to the transferal of materials being controlled by teachers in past studies using SynergyNet. However, a recent study carried out by the DU-TEL-SIG, collaborating with members of Cardiff Metropolitan University, focused on allowing students to control the transferal of materials between interfaces.

Previously, SynergyNet’s network capabilities could only function over a local network. This meant that the table-top interfaces used in studies were often co-located in the same environment. However, this recent study brought about changes to the SynergyNet framework that now allow it to function across the internet. This has allowed for materials to be transferred between instances of the framework in remote locations.

The study focused on connecting two classrooms situated about 300 miles apart through SynergyNet and video conferencing software. Groups of students in both classrooms were asked to work together with the other group to complete a task by communicating through the video conferencing software and passing materials to each other via SynergyNet’s network flick.

News on publications relating to the methodology and findings of this study will made available on this site in the near future.

Formation of the DU-TEL-SIG

Earlier this year the Durham University Technology Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (DU-TEL-SIG) was formed. The group now consists of a number of staff from various departments in the University interested in Technology Enhanced Learning.

One of the major incentives for the formation of this group was to continue the work of the Technology Enhanced Learning Lab (TEL-lab). Though many of the staff and physical resources from the TEL-lab are no longer in Durham, there is still a wealth of intellectual outcomes from the work done by it to build on. The DU-TEL-SIG intends to build on these. For example, SynergyNet was a software framework intended to support educational apps on large multi-touch interfaces. As the framework is still available and functional, the DU-TEL-SIG intend to use it as the basis for several studies.

The possibility of working international with  former members of the TEL-lab opens up the potential for the impact of the DU-TEL-SIG to be international.