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Doctoral Work



Knowledge Places and Wallcology | The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Dissertation Work

This research investigates a novel approach to supporting classroom learning communities. The idea is that it embeds community knowledge within the physical space of the classroom, with the aim of mediating opportunistic inter-group interactions, instigated through proximity and shared artifacts. Through ubiquitous computing, proxemic interaction, tangible computing, and ambient visualizations.


In Wallcology (Moher, 2006), students are told that there are ecosystems embedded within their classroom walls, including various habitats, species (predators and prey), and vegetation to create food webs.  These ecosystems are invisible, except through special "Wallscopes" attached to the classroom walls, where students can see a kind of x-ray view revealing four or more distinct habitats (i.e., one for each wall).  The habitats in each wall vary regarding: (1) the specific species and vegetation included, (2) the nature of the habitat, regarding some mixture of bricks and plaster, (3) temperature.  Students are tasked, as a "scientific community" to investigate these habitats, developing a knowledge base concerning food web relations, habitat and temperature dependencies, and any other observations. 


Associated Publications:

(in preperation)


SOLAR | The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Learning Technologies Group (LTG) & University of Toronto, ENCORE Lab

This instance of HelioRoom ran in a Toronto classroom along with a large “digital poster”; a large vertical multi-touch application in which students were able to create poster-sized representations of their contributions. 


Neighborhood Safari | The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Learning Technologies Group (LTG) & University of Toronto, ENCORE Lab

In Neighborhood Safari, students are loaned motion-detecting field cameras ("camera traps"), which they use to investigate the behavior of animals in their backyards. In our pilot study, students investigated self-generated questions related to food preferences, the presence of scarecrows, the presence of pets, differences between day and night foraging patterns, and others. We developed tablet (iPad) applications that allowed students to filter, sort, and tag their photo sets, create note contributions to a common base in addition to providing aggregated representations of their data.


Hunger Games | The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Learning Technologies Group (LTG) & The University of Toronto, Ontario Institute of Education (OSIE)

Hunger Games centered on the development of learner understandings of animal foraging behavior. Inspired by traditional teaching practices employing physical simulations, within the unit students engage in an embodied enactment of foraging using stuffed animals (with embedded RFID tags) as tangible avatars to represent their foraging among food patches (with camouflaged RFID readers) distributed around a classroom. Displays situated near the food patches provide students with information regarding the energy gain as the forage in the environment.

Associated Publications:

Moher, T., Gnoli, A., Perritano, A., Guerra, P., Lopez, B., & Brown, J. (2013). Back to the future (pp. 275–282). Presented at the the 8th International Conference, New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.


HelioRoom | The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) & The University of Toronto, Ontario Institute of Education (OSIE)

Based on Astronomy, HelioRoom digitally maps an orbital planetary system onto walls of a classroom (Moher, 2006). Students adopt a heliocentric perspective of the solar system and observe dynamic representations of the planets (equally sized, colored circles) though four ambient visualizations (i.e., monitors) during intermittent periods of the day. Students’ work collectively to observe planet occlusion patterns and relative orbital speeds from the phenomena while adding their observations to a collective knowledge base.


Associated Publications:
Moher, T. (2006). Embedded phenomena: supporting science learning with classroom-sized distributed simulations. the SIGCHI conference (pp. 691–700). New York, New York, USA


Tom Moher



Science Create By You (SCY) | InterMediaLab, University of Oslo

SCY is an Integrated project financed by the 7th framework program in the European Commission It ran from 2008-2012 with 12 partners from 7 countries with a total funding of €6 million.


In the learning environment students work individually or collaboratively on “SCY missions” in topics related to mathematics, science and technology. The missions are guided by general socio-economic questions (known as Advanced Pedagogical Scenarios, e.g. “How can we produce healthier milk?”, “How can we design a climate-friendly house?” or “What are the basic properties of aquatic eco-systems?”) requiring knowledge from different STEM subjects. While completing the mission, students are engaged in constructive and productive learning activities (experiment, game, share, explain, design, etc.).

Partner Institutions:

InterMedia, University of Oslo, Norway

Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France

University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

University of Bergen, Norway

Frauhofer IAIS, Munich, Germany

University of Cyprus

University of Tartu, Estonia

De Praktijk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Stichting Technasium, Groningen, The Netherlands

ENOVATE, Bergen, Norway

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada


Associated Publications:

De Jong, T., Van Joolingen, W. R., Giemza, A., Girault, I., Hoppe, U., Kindermann, J., ... & Van Der Zanden, M. (2010). Learning by creating and exchanging objects: The SCY experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(6), 909-921


MIRACLE: Mixed Reality Interactions across Contexts of Learning | University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

MIRACLE delivers models of learning spaces where a mixed reality set up creates a learning experience that seamlessly ties together different settings: the school, the web, and the museum. The project provides knowledge and inspiration for designing an educational program that utilizes the Internet of the future. A mixed reality set up characterized by a rich amount of artifacts and digital representations in science are used to tie these settings more closely together. New interfaces are created to break down boundaries between virtual and real spaces for learning and communicating.  (cite:MIRACLE Project Page)


MIRACLE Project Page


Snøkult | University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Snøkult is an InterMedia design of a multitouch application and pedagogical activities developed in collaboration with the National Museum and Snøhetta - an architecture firm based in Oslo - with the aim of fostering young people's deeper understanding of architectural design processes. (cite: Project Page)


Snøkult Project Page


 WISE: Web-based Inquiry Science Environment | University of California Berkeley

The Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) projects engage students in the methods of real scientists. Through various activities and scaffolding tools, students collaborate to explore issues of social importance; they pose relevant questions and make predictions; they experiment with computational models; they work to evaluate and distinguish discrepant information; and they construct evidence-based explanations through reflection and discussion. From WISE's inquiry-based projects, students not only learn skills that prepare them to be successful in science, they also learn skills necessary to be responsible, critical thinking citizens. (cite: wise.berkeley.edu)



WISE Berkeley