Touching and traveling on 3D augmented tangible maps for learning geography

George Palaigeorgiou (Department of Primary Education, University of Western Macedonia, Florina, Greece)
Anastasios Karakostas (Information Technologies Institute, Centre for Research and Technology-Hellas, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Kyriaki Skenteridou (University of Western Macedonia, Florina, Greece)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Publication date: 17 September 2018



Tangible physical maps which are enhanced by new digital forms of interaction can become an invaluable asset for learning geography in an embodied way. The purpose of this work is to evaluate an interactive augmented three-dimensional (3D) tangible map on which students interact and travel with their fingers.


A total of 58 fourth-grade students from eight elementary schools participated in the study. The participants played with the FingerTrips environment in 24 sessions and in groups of two or three. Each session lasted for about 20-25 min. After completing the interactive game, the students answered a questionnaire concerning their attitudes toward the tangible environment and participated in a short interview.


Students’ responses revealed that FingerTrips managed to transform the experience of meeting new places, understanding spatial relations and learning geography. Students supported that such an approach is closer to their interactive experiences and expectations, and exploits embodied learning affordances to achieve enjoyable learning. Students identified their finger-based trips as an effective and intriguing static haptic guidance that helped them learn more effectively.


The specific approach has two distinctive characteristics. First, a new interaction style on the map is suggested, the use of trips with fingers. Students have to follow predefined engraved paths on the 3D terrain to sense distances and changes in altitude and “touch” the topology asked to understand and explore. Second, it is examined whether a low fidelity interactive 3D terrain, which can be easily reconstructed and reprogrammed by primary school students, can become a useful canvas for learning geography.



Palaigeorgiou, G., Karakostas, A. and Skenteridou, K. (2018), "Touching and traveling on 3D augmented tangible maps for learning geography", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 279-290.

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