The IDC conference is a leading international forum for exploring childrens' and youngsters' needs in relationship to technology, i.e. exploring how to create interactive products for and with them, and investigating how technology-mediated experiences affect their life.
The following articles are from "Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children":
Ackermann, Edith K. (2005): Playthings that do things: a young kid's "incredibles"!. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 1-8. Available online
This paper looks into a small collection of animated toys, or "AniMates", which I describe in terms of the mental elbowroom each provides for exploring and enacting issues of agency, identity, attachment, and control. Toys are selected for their varying degrees of autonomy and responsiveness, and for their lasting popularity, or capacity to captivate commonly held passions. As will become clear through the examples, animated toys need not be computational to qualify as AniMates. Many classical toys exhibit creature-like qualities, such as self-propelled movement (wind-up toys) or the ability to keep a bearing (tops and gyros). And many no-tech or low-tech toys exist, which afford the thrill of controlling things at a distance (kites, string puppets). My purpose is to highlight some of the relational qualities that, beyond functionality, endow AniMates with the power to draw us in, amuse and delight us and, above all, re-enact some of the hurdles that growing up entails -- an indirect hint to toy-bots/tech-toys designers.
MacFarlane, Stuart, Sim, Gavin and Horton, Matthew (2005): Assessing usability and fun in educational software. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 103-109. Available online
We describe an investigation into the relationship between usability and fun in educational software designed for children. Twenty-five children aged between 7 and 8 participated in the study. Several evaluation methods were used; some collected data from observers, and others collected reports from the users. Analysis showed that in both observational data, and user reports, ratings for fun and usability were correlated, but that there was no significant correlation between the observed data and the reported data. We discuss the possible reasons for these findings, and describe a method that was successful in eliciting opinions from young children about fun and usability.
Autism is a developmental disorder which presents disability in communication and socialisation and a lack of imagination. To promote creativity, exploration and enjoyment in low functioning autistic children that have no verbal communication, we propose MEDIATE, an interactive environment that generates real time visual, aural and vibrotactile stimuli. This paper focuses on the design of interaction with visuals within MEDIATE. The design is guided by the objectives of giving children a sense of agency and enhance non repetitive actions. Other guidelines of this design include natural interaction, use of non invasive technology and non representational visuals. This visual interaction (together with sound and vibrotacile) allows the children to enjoy MEDIATE and be creative within this environment.
Resnick, Mitchel and Silverman, Brian (2005): Some reflections on designing construction kits for kids. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 117-122. Available online
In this paper, we present ten guiding principles for designing construction kits for kids, informed by our experiences over the past two decades:* Design for Designers* Low Floor and Wide Walls* Make Powerful Ideas Salient -- Not Forced* Support Many Paths, Many Styles* Make it as Simple as Possible -- and Maybe Even Simpler* Choose Black Boxes Carefully* A Little Bit of Programming Goes a Long Way* Give People What They Want -- Not What They Ask For* Invent Things That You Would Want to Use Yourself* Iterate, Iterate -- then Iterate AgainWhile these principles apply especially to the development of construction kits, we believe that they could be useful for everyone who designs new technologies for kids.
Berglin, Lena (2005): Spookies: combining smart materials and information technology in an interactive toy. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 17-23. Available online
This paper describes the use of textile material as a user interface to an interactive toy called Spookies. Both traditional textile and smart textiles have been used in order to communicate the function and the interaction. The project has generated ideas that can be used in the Spookies concept as well as toys in general.
Bouvin, Niels Olof, Brodersen, Christina, Hansen, Frank Allan, Iversen, Ole Sejer and Norregaard, Peter (2005): Tools of contextualization: extending the classroom to the field. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 24-31. Available online
Project based education is growing in importance in elementary schools though it is still quite poorly technologically supported, particularly with respect to actively taking advantage of contextual information. Based on an empirical study of teaching and in particular project based education in Danish elementary schools, we present the HyConExplorer, a geospatial hypermedia system supporting project based education and learning outside of the classroom through contextualization of information. More specifically, the HyCon-Explorer provides means for: browsing with your feet, annotating the world, and overview at a glance.
This paper presents the design of pOwerball, a novel augmented reality computer game for children aged 8-14. The pOwerball was designed to bring together children with and without a physical or learning disability and to encourage social interactions surrounding the play. The contribution of this design case is two fold. From a design perspective, pOwerball exemplifies an emerging class of computer games where the interaction style and game mechanics support social interactions amongst the players. From a methodological perspective, we describe the various ways children became involved in our design process; we highlight the related difficulties and successes in the context of relevant research literature.
Dindler, Christian, Eriksson, Eva, Iversen, Ole Sejer, Lykke-Olesen, Andreas and Ludvigsen, Martin (2005): Mission from Mars: a method for exploring user requirements for children in a narrative space. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 40-47. Available online
In this paper a particular design method is propagated as a supplement to existing descriptive approaches to current practice studies especially suitable for gathering requirements for the design of children's technology. The Mission from Mars method was applied during the design of an electronic school bag (eBag). The three-hour collaborative session provides a first-hand insight into children's practice in a fun and intriguing way. The method is proposed as a supplement to existing descriptive design methods for interaction design and children.
Fails, Jerry, Druin, Allison, Guha, Mona Leigh, Chipman, Gene, Simms, Sante and Churaman, Wayne (2005): Child's play: a comparison of desktop and physical interactive environments. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 48-55. Available online
The importance of play in young children's lives cannot be minimized. From teddy bears to blocks, children's experiences with the tools of play can impact their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Today, the tools of play include desktop computers and computer-enhanced physical environments. In this paper, we consider the merits of desktop and physical environments for young children (4-6 years old), by comparing the same content-infused game in both contexts. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used for data collection and analysis.
Fisch, Shalom M. (2005): Making educational computer games "educational". In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 56-61. Available online
Educational computer games provide an appealing context for engaging children in activities that deliver substantive educational content and customized feedback. However, creators of such games can only take full advantage of the power of the medium if the educational content is integrated effectively into the structure of the game. Drawing upon experiences in the creation of numerous real-life games and applications, this paper describes some of the considerations that must be taken into account in creating effective interactive games. These include: matching particular educational topics or concepts to their most appropriate media; placing educational content at the heart of game play so that children engage in the targeted real-world behavior or thinking as they play the game; and building feedback and hint structures in ways that support and scaffold children into challenging content.
Hall, Tony and Bannon, Liam (2005): Designing ubiquitous computing to enhance children's interaction in museums. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 62-69. Available online
The research reported in this paper set out to explore novel, interactive techniques to stimulate active participation, involvement and learning by children visiting a museum, through ubiquitous computer technology. To achieve this, a systematic design process was undertaken, which involved exploring Scenario-Based Design, Design-Based Research and a number of technology probes. These lead to the selection, design and implementation of "Re-Tracing the Past" in the Hunt Museum in Limerick, Ireland. The "Re-Tracing the Past" learning environment, with a focus on history and material culture, is described in detail and evaluated. The evaluation takes a case-based approach using video recording and post hoc analysis of the activities, discussion, reaction, and questioning by the children, both as individual participants and in interactive groups. The data derived from these video recordings is analysed in the context of eight design themes, which informed the development of the novel, computer-augmented museum exhibition. These themes included: (1) materiality; (2) narrativity; (3) sociality; (4) activity; (5) multimodality; (6) engagement; (7) computer as augmentation tool; and (8) pedagogical activity. The project culminated in the articulation of a series of outline design guidelines or design heuristics relating twelve experiential criteria to five supporting design informants and resources. These guidelines could be adapted to the design of other interactive learning environments for children. This together with very detailed description of the Scenario-Based Design and Design-Based Research in action constitute the major contributions of the research.
We present a design for an interactive American Sign Language game geared for language development for deaf children. In addition to work on game design, we show how Wizard of Oz techniques can be used to facilitate our work on ASL recognition. We report on two Wizard of Oz studies which demonstrate our technique and maximize our iterative design process. We also detail specific implications to the design raised from working with deaf children and possible solutions.
Jensen, Janne J. and Skov, Mikael B. (2005): A review of research methods in children's technology design. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 80-87. Available online
Research methods have been objects of discussions for decades and defining research methods is still a quite considerable challenge. However, it is important to understand research methods in different disciplines as it informs us on future directions and influences on the discipline. We conduct a survey of research methods in paper publications. 105 papers on children's technology design are classified on a two-dimensional matrix on research method and purpose. Our results show a strong focus on engineering of products as applied research and on evaluation of developed products in the field or in the lab. Also, we find that much research is conducted in natural setting environments with strong focus on field studies.
Kaplan, Nancy and Chisik, Yoram (2005): Reading alone together: creating sociable digital library books. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 88-94. Available online
Children between 10 and 14 years old continue to need support to develop advanced literacy skills but there is evidence that they may be reading less now. Libraries have long sought to cater to young adults but as more activities vie for the attention of children, the role of traditional libraries in the literacy lives of teens and 'tweens may be diminishing. As Digital Libraries (DLs) begin to offer resources to children in this age cohort, it is important that they support more than convenient access to digital books. The DL must provide engaging reading and writing environments not simply to support the tasks of schooling but also to support literacy as a social practice. In this paper, we discuss the development and field testing of a "sociable digital library book," an application that provides readers with the ability to leave notes and marks in a digital book and to share notes and marks with others. Our field study with a small set of Internet Reading Groups (IRGs) suggests that there are important pleasures to be had from "reading alone together."
Als, Benedikte S., Jensen, Janne J. and Skov, Mikael B. (2005): Comparison of think-aloud and constructive interaction in usability testing with children. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 9-16. Available online
Constructive interaction provides natural thinking-aloud as test subjects collaborate to solve tasks. Since children may face difficulties in following instructions for a standard think-aloud test, constructive interaction has been suggested as evaluation method when conducting usability testing with children. However, the relationship between think-aloud and constructive interaction is still poorly understood. We present an experiment that compares think-aloud and constructive interaction in usability testing. The experiment involves 60 children with three setups where children apply think-aloud, and constructive interaction in acquainted and non-acquainted pairs. Our results showed only minor significant differences between the setups, but the pairing of the children had impact on identification of usability problems as acquainted dyads identified more problems both in total and of the most severe than non-acquainted dyads and individual testers. Finally, the acquainted pairs reported that they had to put less effort into the testing than the think-aloud and non-acquainted children.
Labrune, Jean-Baptiste and Mackay, Wendy E. (2005): Tangicam: exploring observation tools for children. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC05: Interaction Design and Children 2005. pp. 95-102. Available online
This paper describes the design and early evaluation of the Tangicam, or tangible camera, a mobile device for children to capture and edit realistic pictures and videos. Our first experimental results show that the affordances of the Tangicam allow imitation learning and free playing in a context of tangible and augmented reality. Our goal is to create a simple and robust observation system that lets children produce narratives based on situated  video, audio and sensor data. We also want to explore how these temporal structures may allow children to describe themselves, other children or natural phenomena and how such situated time series may help develop new forms of synaesthetic and intersubjective constructions.
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