Germany currently lacks more than 40.000 trained IT professionals. Beyond that, virtually every modern job requires some understanding of digital tools and methods. These challenges require us to educate more people in computer science. However, computer science is a highly abstract topic, even compared to many other scientific areas. Studies have shown that these concepts are perceived as complex and difficult to learn.

The TABULA project aims to make these concepts more tangible, by creating learning systems with tangible interaction. Tangible interaction can improve users' mental models, cognitive processes, and procedural knowledge. This does not only increase users' ability to learn, but also their motivation to learn difficult concepts. These systems will help users to learn abstract concepts in theoretical computer science. Our sample applications include teaching the concept of flow-based programming.

Some of our tangible learning applications are web-based. The developed applications can be found on


  • Prof. Jan Borchers, Christian Cherek, Simon Voelker (Human-Computer Interaction Center, RWTH Aachen University) - project coordination
  • Prof. Ulrik Schroeder, Svenja Noichl, Matthias Ehlenz (Learning Technologies, RWTH Aachen University)
  • Prof. Martina Ziefle, Wiktoria Wilkowska (Human-Computer Interaction Center, RWTH Aachen University)
  • Patrick Blum, Sylvia Kowalewski, Tobias Schierge (inside GmbH)
  • Ferdinand te Walvaart, Alex Politis, Volker Bombien, Jens Nickel, Luc Lemmens (elektor-Verlag GmbH)



  • Christian Cherek, David Asselborn, Simon Voelker and Jan Borchers. Off-Surface Tangibles: Exploring the Design Space of Midair Tangible Interaction.  In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA '19, ACM, New York, NY, USA, May 2019.
    HomepagePDF DocumentBibTeX Entry
  • 2018

  • David Asselborn. Reaching a New Dimension: Using Tangibles for 3D Object Rotation. Masters's Thesis, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, September 2018.
    PDF DocumentBibTeX Entry
  • Christian Cherek, Anke Brocker, Simon Voelker and Jan Borchers. Tangible Awareness: How Tangibles on Tabletops Influence Awareness of Each Other’s Actions.  In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI '18, pages 298:1–298:7, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2018.
    HomepageMoviePDF DocumentBibTeX Entry
  • 2016

  • Alexander Neumann. User Friendly Tangible Construction Kit. Bachelor's Thesis, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, September 2016.
    PDF DocumentBibTeX Entry


We were invited to present TABULA in a radio interview on Deutschlandfunk.

G.I.B. Info published an article about the ELE-Infotour which happened in the fall of 2018 featuring TABULA as a highlight-project of the call.


This project runs from 2016 until 2019, and is funded by the German Ministry of Science and Education (BMBF) through its Tangible Learning Initiative.

Contact: Christian Cherek

Internal project page, Ele-Infotour (registered users only)

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