An observational study of dual display usage in university classroom lectures

Joel Lanir, Kellogg S. Booth, Steven A. Wolfman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report a study of how dual display screens were used in classroom lectures for university-level courses across a variety of disciplines during five academic terms over a 2-year period. Our goal was to understand the pedagogical consequences of using more than a single electronic display screen to support classroom lectures. We deployed an in-house software system (MultiPresenter) in real classrooms. We examined the use of MultiPresenter by 8 university instructors who taught 15 courses with a total of 1,147 students during 13-week regular terms or 6-week summer terms. We observed classroom lectures, interviewed instructors, collected screen images and log files of MultiPresenter usage, and administered questionnaires to students about their subjective impressions. Based on these data, we analyzed how instructors used MultiPresenter in order to identify examples of how multiple display screens might best be used for educational purposes. The analysis revealed that the following practices are beneficial: the ability to keep information persistent for extended periods, the increased flexibility in where and when information is shown, capability for side-by-side comparison of full screens of information, simultaneous visibility of both overview ("roadmap") and detailed ("content") information, and extra space to annotate information. Possible hazards include difficulty focusing on specific information amidst a large amount of information and too much information changing too quickly without proper indication of the changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-377
Number of pages43
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support. This work was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through a strategic research network grant for NECTAR, the Network for Effective Collaboration Technology through Advanced Research, and through the discovery grant program.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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