Let's jam the reactable: peer learning during musical improvisation with a tabletop tangible interface

Anna Xambó, Eva Hornecker, Paul Marshall, Sergi Jorda, Chris Dobbyn, Robin Laney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


There has been little research on how interactions with tabletop and Tangible User Interfaces (TUIs) by groups of users change over time. In this article, we investigate the challenges and opportunities of a tabletop tangible interface based on constructive building blocks. We describe a long-term lab study of groups of expert musicians improvising with the Reactable, a commercial tabletop TUI for music performance. We examine interaction, focusing on interface, tangible, musical, and social phenomena. Our findings reveal a practice-based learning between peers in situated contexts, and new forms of participation, all of which is facilitated by the Reactable's tangible interface, if compared to traditional musical ensembles. We summarise our findings as a set of design considerations and conclude that construction processes on interactive tabletops support learning by doing and peer learning, which can inform constructivist approaches to learning with technology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number36
Number of pages34
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • human centered computing
  • human computer interaction
  • musical improvisation
  • social computing
  • tabletop interfaces
  • collaborative learning


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