Building a Better Book

Academic Technologies spent the last two academic years researching how Notre Dame faculty and students used tablets to augment or replace traditional paper-based course materials.  The OIT Academic Technologies team partnered with faculty and staff from the Mendoza College of Business, Notre Dame Law School, Hesburgh Libraries and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures to purchase 50 Apple iPads and 60 Samsung Galaxy Tabs for faculty and students to use in pilot courses.  We spent a significant amount of time with each faculty member involved in the tablet course pilots to find electronic versions of their textbooks that provided students the most interactivity. The level of interactivity and quality of the interaction features available depends on the content and the capabilities of each tablet app.  We also discovered that tablets with large color screens solved the challenge of viewing heavily illustrated eTextbooks versus using eReading devices like the Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook that use the black & white E Ink technology.

Academic Technologies is also assisting faculty develop their own eBooks which have the potential to create more dynamic and engaging learning experiences. We helped Dr. Elliott Visconsi develop Shakespeare’s The Tempest for iPad, which is an iPad app designed for social reading, listening, annotating, authoring, and sharing. We collaborated with a student developer working for the Institute for Latino Studies create Day of the Dead – Experience the Tradition, which is an iOS app providing readers an interactive way to learn about the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) through many beautiful multimedia elements. And we are currently supporting Assistant Professor Andre Murnieks who teaches graphic design to help him use iBooks Author to develop a textbook which demonstrates the interactive design principles he teaches.  Apple has also requested that we create interactive iBooks and iTunes U courses that will include materials from the University of Notre Dame OpenCourseWare courses created by faculty with assistance from the Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning.

Our current work to support faculty exploring ePublishing, eTextbook authoring and iOS application development is a small part of a broader multi-year effort to examine how the University of Notre Dame can create an mobile elearning ecosystem to support the creation, distribution, and consumption of eBooks and eTextbooks on different eReading devices.

Using GigaPan to Support Faculty Research

Inspired by the same technology that the Mars Rovers used to capture panorama images of the red planet, GigaPan is a system that creates zoomable web-based images from a series of very high resolution digital photos. The GigaPan hardware can be programmed to enable a digital camera to automatically capture hundreds, or even thousands of photos of a single location, which the GigaPan software then stitches into a single, high resolution image.

GigaPan is currently being used by the Digital Historical Architectural Research and Material Analysis (D.H.A.R.M.A) research team from the Notre Dame School of Architecture to create high resolution panoramas of historic monuments and buildings around the world. The GigaPan images are used by faculty & students in their off-site research and will eventually be used to create high resolution 3D models. GigaPan has been used most recently by the D.H.A.R.M.A team to scan and document the Roman Forum and ancient tombs in India.

GigaPan Example


The Academic Technologies team has also used the GigaPan system to create detailed panoramas of archaeological dig sites in Indiana and Michigan, and to create scenic high resolution panoramas of the Notre Dame campus including South Quad and views from the 14th floor of Hesburgh Library. If you would like to see some of the Gigapan panoramas created by the AT team please visit our GigaPan Gallery at

Sifteo Cubes

Siftables are…sets of cookie-sized computers with motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical display, and wireless communication. Siftables act in concert to form a single interface: users physically manipulate them—piling, grouping, sorting—to interact with digital information and media. Siftables provide a new platform on which to implement tangible games.”

Context Aware Computing

Humans often behave differently based on the answers to questions like: Where am I? Am I standing still or moving? What time is it? What am I near? Who am I with? As more smart, mobile devices are used, developers are creating software that changes the device’s behavior based on the same kinds of questions.




The iPad became available on April 3, 2010, and supports ePub formatted content. The iPad’s large color screen can potentially be a viable textbook replacement, pending the addition of features such as annotation.

Dr. Corey Angst, Mendoza College of Business, has initiated the first phase of a study on iPads as a traditional textbook replacement, more commonly known as “the iPad class”. For more information, please contact Jon Crutchfield (jcrutchf @


Microsoft Kinect

We have developed the following applications using Kinect: control of interactive, panoramic photography using Gigapan and Microsoft DeepZoom; control of PowerPoint, including annotation of slides; and control of 3D objects in Chimera.

3D Camcorder

Movies, television and even video games are actively pursuing 3D capabilities. How could a 3D camcorder change field research like archeology and architecture?