IEEE World Haptics 2017 Workshop: Haptics in Education

Haptics in Education

This half-day panel workshop on the afternoon of June 6 will feature invited speakers and discussion on current implementations of haptics in all levels of education as a part of IEEE World Haptics 2017.


Intuitive and formalized in education models, hands-on experiences are important for learning. Haptics’ ability to facilitate kinesthetic information transfer makes it an appealing tool for not only haptics and general mechatronics tertiary education, but also for a wider range of levels and topics. To this end, several groups have presented low-cost devices and accompanying curriculum.

The workshop comes at a timely point to discuss methods for developing curriculum to be complemented by haptic devices. The goal will be to provide future and current educators with latest developments for haptics in education across all levels. Speakers will provide insights on devices developed for a broad range of curricular goals, many with iterative improvements to decrease cost, increase their efficacy, or achieve new curricular goals. Finally, the workshop is intended to provoke a discussion about the limitations of assessment of their impacts on learning outcomes. Despite student interest in hands-on devices, and the foundational role of experiences in learning, experimental comparisons of learning outcomes over a broad range of devices have shown mixed results.

Intended Audience

The workshop is intended for graduate students, researchers and educators who have an interest in understanding the haptic interactions in education. The workshop will identify best practices in delivery and assessment of haptic enhanced education.

Workshop would be of interest to
·         Instructors teaching mechatronics, control or haptic curricula interested in exploring low cost haptic tools
·         Educational researchers with an interest in using haptics and virtual reality to support visual learning.
·         Haptic researchers seeking to apply educational principles in new applications and devices
·         Medical researchers interested in the interplay between learning a clinical skill and learning an educational concept

Workshop Schedule

Opening Remarks 13:45-13:55

Roger Gassert, PhD, Director and
Olivier Lambercy, PhD, Deputy Director
Rehablitation Engineering Laboratory
ETH Zurich



A Hands-on Approach to Education in Physical Human-

Physical human-robot interaction is a rapidly growing field with
increasing application in rehabilitation engineering, in the form
of both therapeutic and assistive devices – a topic of great
interest to many students. While universities provide a solid
background in theoretical principles in scientific and technical
subjects, many students struggle to transfer these principles
to real-world problems. This talk will give an overview of our
efforts to raise interest for the exciting field of physical human-
robot interaction at ETH Zurich, and provide students with a
tangible link between theory and application. This ranges from
Engineering Weeks for high-school students to raise their
interest in STEM education, to interactive, basic engineering
education in the interdisciplinary Health Science and Technology
(HST) curriculum, all the way to a focused pHRI course for
mechanical engineering and HST students, which combines
lectures with hands-on labs.

Trevor Smith, MS
PhD Student
Saint Louis University


The Haptic Paddle as a Teaching Tool in System Dynamics

The haptic paddle is a single degree-of-freedom force feedback
haptic device that has seen tremendous evolution as a teaching
tool in engineering, particularly in the areas of dynamics and
controls. A second goal of the haptic paddle is to increase the
accessibility of robotics and haptics by providing a low-cost device
for middle and high school teachers and students. Prior assessments
of the learning enabled by the paddles at the college level have
largely been qualitative, consisting of anecdotal case studies
illustrating student and educator belief that they enhance learning
and increase student enthusiasm. In this talk, we summarize the
evolution of the haptic paddle, describe paddle design enhancements,
and provide a formal assessment of student learning in a System
Dynamics course featuring haptic paddle laboratories

Volkan Patoglu, PhD
Associate Professor of Engineering
and Natural Sciences
Sabancı University


HandsOn-SEA: A Series Elastic Educational Robot
for Physical Human Robot Interaction

HandsOn-SEA is a low cost, single degree-of-freedom, force-
controlled education robot with series elastic actuation. 

HandsOn-SEA relies on a force control loop to achieve the desired
level of safety and transparency during physical interactions and
complements the existing impedance-type force-feedback
educational robot designs. 
Wpresent the design of the device,
its integration to pHRI 
education, and its efficacy in teaching
fundamental con
cepts of force control. 

Q&A, Discussion 15:00-15:15
Karon Maclean, PhD
Professor of Computer Science
University of British Columbia


One Take on the Design Space of Teaching of and with Haptics 

I will suggest a few dimensions of this design space (for example,
pedagogical goals, platform variables, ways in which content
development is supported) that have become obvious to me
in 20+ years of attempts at all of the above, and note
examples of 
where we’ve done well as a community and where
we could do better. 

Melisa Orta, MS
PhD student in CHARM Lab
Stanford University


From the lab to the classroom: How to bring haptics into
learning environments 

A haptic device has the potential to expand and transform the
ways that students experience a variety of concepts by providing
hands-on learning experiences. We will present the evolution of
our Hapkit series of devices in terms of both design and learning
applications. With the Hapkit, our aim is to facilitate online,
engaging, interactive learning environments that could
be used
both in the classroom as well as in informal learning settings.

Megan Tracey, MSc
PhD Student
King's College London


Reimagining Biological Cells: Evaluating 3D Learning in a
Co-operative Haptic Environment

Q&A, Discussion


Ed Colgate, PhD
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Northwestern University


Raconteur: The Why's of the Workshop


Discussion Questions

We would like to guide the discussions to cover these broad questions for Haptics in Pedagogy. If you have any refinements or additions please send us an email and we'll include them!

- How should the intended audience and pedagogy influence device and curriculum design?
- What is an appropriate cost for a device, and what are the biggest obstacles to low-cost design?
- How should laboratory exercises complement lecture materials? 
- What are the key challenges of content and representation development? 
- What factors (such as cost, technology comfort levels, availability, etc) are important to facilitate uptake?
- How should we assess the impact of these devices on learning educational concepts and skills? 



Chad Rose, MS
Graduate Student
Rice University
cgr2 [at]

Dr. Marcia K. O'Malley, PhD
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Director of MAHI Lab:
Rice University
omalleym [at]

Dr. William Harwin, PhD
Professor of Human and Interactive Systems
University of Reading
w.s.harwin [at]

Dr. Faustina Hwang, PhD
Associate Professor of Digital Health
University of Reading
f.hwang [at]

Dr. Ozan Tokatli, PhD
Post-Doctoral Research Associate 
University of Reading
o.tokatli [at]


More information on workshops at World Haptics 2017 can be found on the WH17 website,