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 IDC06: Interaction Design and Children":
Chipman, Gene, Druin, Allison, Beer, Dianne, Fails, Jerry, Guha, Mona Leigh and Simms, Sante (2006): A case study of tangible flags: a collaborative technology to enhance field trips. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 1-8. Available online
This paper describes research that investigates the use of a technology designed to support young children's collaborative artifact creation in outdoor environments. Collaboration while creating knowledge artifacts is an important part of children's learning, yet it can be limited while exploring outdoors. The construction of a joint representation often occurs in the classroom after the experience, where further investigation and observation of the environment is not possible. This paper describes a research study where collaborative technology was developed, used by children, and evaluated in an authentic setting -- a U.S. National Park.
Hutchinson, Hilary Browne, Bederson, Benjamin B. and Druin, Allison (2006): The evolution of the international children's digital library searching and browsing interface. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 105-112. Available online
Elementary-age children (ages 6-11) are among the largest user groups of computers and the Internet, so it is important to design searching and browsing tools to support them. However, many such tools do not consider their skills and preferences. In this paper, we present the design rationale and process for creating the searching and browsing tool for the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL), the results from a user study evaluating it, and the challenges and possibilities it presents for other children's interfaces.
Garzotto, Franca and Forfori, Matteo (2006): FaTe2: storytelling edutainment experiences in 2D and 3D collaborative spaces. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 113-116. Available online
Storytelling, edutainment, and collaborative interaction are all powerful paradigms to promote learning in young kids. The FaTe2 project offers a combination of these paradigms by providing a web based, multi-user, two and three dimensions virtual space where children (aged 7-11) can meet, chat, explore, play, and perform storytelling activities in collaboration. The paper describes the background of FaTe2, its educational motivations, its design solutions, and its implementation approach.
Seitinger, Susanne (2006): An ecological approach to children's playground props. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 117-120. Available online
This paper describes an ecological approach to designing children's play props. By studying the world with the help of intermediary objects, children learn about the physical and "mythical" characteristics of their three-dimensional surroundings through physically active play. Starting from the universal pull-along toy as inspiration, a new category of space explorer emerges that interacts with children as they engage their outdoor play environment. Early design experiences are described and directions for future research are given.
Fernaeus, Ylva, Kindborg, Mikael and Scholz, Robert (2006): Rethinking children's programming with contextual signs. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 121-128. Available online
We present an approach to children's programming inspired by the semiotics of comics. The idea is to build computer programs in a direct and concrete way by using a class of signs that we call contextual signs. There are two aspects that distinguish contextual signs from other sign systems used for programming. The first is that the signs are displayed in the immediate visual context of the object that they refer to. The second is that the signs are used to illustrate actions and properties in a way that is directly perceivable by the user. We argue that these two properties make contextual signs a promising high-level approach for building systems that are rich in dynamic properties, such as the ones that children often like to build.
Mattila, Jussi and Vaatanen, Antti (2006): UbiPlay: an interactive playground and visual programming tools for children. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 129-136. Available online
Children develop important skills at playgrounds. Physical play promotes health and reacting to other children establishes social behavior patterns. By augmenting playground elements with sensor technology, video displays, and computer software, we pursued to take the experience further. This paper describes what was achieved; UbiPlay, a technology platform for programmable interactive playgrounds. UbiPlay allows children to create and play games in interactive playground environments. We present a play space built using the technology and results from qualitative evaluations, performed with 44 school children between the ages of 10 and 12. Results indicate that end-user programmable playgrounds like ours can provide much stimulus and excitement for children.
Steiner, Brittany, Kaplan, Nancy and Moulthrop, Stuart (2006): When play works: turning game-playing into learning. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 137-140. Available online
Current research on technology development for children focuses on children's roles as design partners helping to set high level goals or exploring prototypes and interfaces. In this project, we investigate whether game modification toolkits enable children to build games themselves rather than turning their ideas over to expert developers. Using an accessible toolkit for the game Neverwinter Nights, we invited seven children between the ages of 12 and 14 to design and build their own games. We analyzed their plans, the games, and their reflections on the experience to explore what our participants discovered about the roles of developers and players, how their experience as builders differed from their experiences as players, and what they perceived to be the benefits of building rather than simply designing or playing games. Our results show that children can master modification toolkits and that there may be value in encouraging children to build rather than simply play computer games.
Fischer, Thomas and Lau, Wing (2006): Marble track music sequencers for children. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 141-144. Available online
We discuss the development of electronically enhanced construction kits for marble tracks that act as music sequencers for music education of young children. Marbles rolling along the tracks trigger sound events to produce the playback of musical notes and songs. Re-arrangeable tangible elements correspond to timing, durations and pitches of notes and thus allow electronic music sequencing by means of haptic programming. This approach to early music education separates the different tasks of melody making and instrument manipulation, aiming at faster success and fewer frustrating learning experiences. We present two marble track designs: an earlier one, which is based on a central synthesizer and a system-wide communication bus and a second one based on multiple decentralized synthesizer units. We discuss previous work in the field of machine-readable models and haptic programming and report on experiences with both sequencer designs including user tests of the second design.
Dalsgaard, Thomas, Skov, Mikael B., Stougaard, Malthe and Thomassen, Bo (2006): Mediated intimacy in families: understanding the relation between children and parents. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 145-152. Available online
Mediating intimacy between children and their parents is still limited investigated and at the same time, we find that, emerging technologies are about to change and affect the way we interact with each other. In this paper, we report from an empirical study where we investigated the social interaction phenomena that unfold between children and their parents. We used cultural probes and contextual interviews to investigate the intimate acts between children and parents in three families. Our findings show that the intimate act between children and parents share a number of similarities with other types of intimate relations such as strong-tie intimacy (couples cohabiting). However, we also identified several issues of intimacy unique to the special relation between children and their parents. These unique acts of intimacy propose challenges when designing technologies for mediated intimacy in families.
Fraser, Katie, Rodden, Tom and O'Malley, Claire (2006): Home-school technologies: considering the family. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 153-156. Available online
Research has focused on building technologies to support children in their transitions between home and school  without a developed sense of how individual families react to such technologies. We interviewed three different families about their reactions to ubiquitous computing technologies designed to support home-school transitions. We found that families were willing to use such technologies to share information among themselves, but that mechanisms for filtering this information would be a challenge for designers. Further, families were reluctant to share information with outsiders, such as teachers. We will discuss the implications of these findings for both future technologies, and further research into their design.
Tarrin, Nicolas, Petit, Gregory and Chene, Denis (2006): Network force-feedback applications for hospitalized children in sterile room. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 157-160. Available online
This paper describes the development of 3D network applications with force feedback for and with hospitalized children. These applications are built on an innovative multimodal platform which includes networked 3D graphics, sound and force feedback. One goal of this research is to improve the life quality of children isolated in sterile rooms during their stay in the hospital by providing them the ability to physically interact with other people and to enjoy themselves. Another goal is to elaborate a haptic design methodology where users are involved in the design process.
Blikstein, Paulo and Wilensky, Uri (2006): A technological platform for trans-media scientific exploration. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 161-162. Available online
A considerable body of research has demonstrated the benefits of modeling a variety of scientific phenomena via the multi-agent approach and its vast potential in education. However, most multi-agent simulations are purely virtual, with no connection to the physical world. To address this issue, we designed a platform to enable students to seamlessly link computer models and sensors, in real time. The platform is designed for learners to validate, refine, and debug their computer models using real-world data, in a Constructionist fashion. Also, the platform broadens the types of possible scientific explorations and makes available a low-cost version of apparatus only available in advanced research laboratories. We will focus on technical and educational aspects of this development, describing preliminary pilot studies in which we analyze projects built by students.
Jansen, Lisette, Dijk, Betsy van and Retra, Jose (2006): Musical multimodal child computer interaction. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 163-164. Available online
In this project an interactive computer system is designed that envisions to contribute to young children's musical education. From literature, requirements for musical interaction were derived. In this paper these requirements and the design of the system are described.
Kindborg, Mikael and Scholz, Robert (2006): MagicWords: a programmable learning toy. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 165-166. Available online
This paper presents a design and technology demonstration that illustrates: (1) how high-level behaviours expressed as contextual words can be used for visual programming of graphical characters, and (2) the possible application of this programming technique to a language learning software toy.
Ohashi, Yutaro and Arisawa, Makoto (2006): Nature talk: a proposed audible database system for environmental learning. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 167-168. Available online
We developed a mobile learning application that permits users to explore and learn a natural environment. By using PDA, learners seek various kinds of sound in surroundings, and record them. Sounds are stored in PDA with position information obtained from GPS receiver, which is embedded in PDA. Sounds are layered on an aerial photo, based on the position information. As the network technology spread to school education, visual information (such as text, photo, etc) will be large in quantity. This project aim at stimulate children's awareness or creativity, by paying attention to audible information that is gained from surroundings.
This poster describes the design and early evaluation of MusicPets. MusicPets allows children to store audio, such as (composed) tunes or recorded messages, on tangible containers embodied by soft toys. Results show that children enjoy creating tunes and appreciate the possibility to record them on physical objects so that they can later 'show' them to others. They would also use MusicPets for exchanging messages and playing DJ using multiple prerecorded soft toys. MusicPets not only fosters musical creativity but also promotes collaboration among children.
Fieldtrips, traditionally associated with science, history and geography teaching, have long been used to support children's learning by allowing them to engage with environments first-hand. Recently, ubiquitous computing (UbiComp) has been used to enhance fieldtrips in these educational areas by augmenting environments with a range of instruments, devices and sensors. However, the sorts of interaction design that UbiComp makes possible have the potential not just to enhance the value of educational techniques in known application areas, but also to expand the application of those techniques into new areas of curriculum. We report on a UbiComp-supported fieldtrip to support creative writing, associated with the learning of literacy skills. We discuss how the fieldtrip, designed and run in the grounds of a historic English country house with Year 5 UK schoolchildren, engendered interactions which changed both the processes and products of creative writing, with benefits for both teachers and children.
Xu, Diana, Mazzone, Emanuela and MacFarlane, Stuart (2006): In search for evaluation methods for children's tangible technology. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 171-172. Available online
We selected some user-based evaluation methods for use with school children to evaluate our Tangible User Interface (TUI) prototype. We aimed to evaluate mainly the usability of the prototype, and also fun and educational design. The evaluations were carried out in different environments. We found location of the study and disposition of the space play important roles; selection of the participants is also important.
Kam, Matthew, Ramachandran, Divya, Raghavan, Anand, Chiu, Jane, Sahni, Urvashi and Canny, John (2006): Practical considerations for participatory design with rural school children in underdeveloped regions: early reflections from the field. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 25-32. Available online
This paper draws on a 2-week design workshop conducted at a rural primary school in northern India to provide recommendations on carrying out participatory design with school children in rural, underdeveloped regions. From our experiences in prototyping low-tech and hi-tech English language learning games with rural student participants, we advocate that researchers build a more equal relationship that is qualitatively different from one between teachers and students, enlist local adults and children as facilitators, and explore hi-tech prototyping to inspire the best designs.
Barry, Mary and Pitt, Ian (2006): Interaction design: a multidimensional approach for learners with autism. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 33-36. Available online
In the special education context of children with autism, the design of educational software needs to focus on their unique learning styles. In this study, results of a survey in Irish Primary Schools, and interviews with tutors, indicate that characteristics of learners with autism need to be more integrated into the design process. An interaction model, based on Norman's and Abowd and Beale's models, provides a basis for mapping special user requirements and instructional strategies onto a model suited to the learner with autism. We propose this extended interaction model as a basis for design guidelines for effective educational software for these special needs learners.
Strobel, Johannes and Idan, Einat (2006): Integrating scaffolds into goal-based scenarios: the case of an interactive game on biodiversity for children. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 37-39. Available online
In this paper, we describe the design of a goal-based problem solving oriented interactive game on biodiversity. The audience is children ranging from age 6 to 14. We focus in our paper especially on a) the instructional design of the game and b) the support structures. We differentiate between modeling, coaching, scaffolding, and general support structures and focus especially on the design of scaffolds that were integrated in order to provide learners with feedback, guidelines, and help structure.
Nevanpaa, Tiina and Law, Nancy (2006): Pupil's ecological reasoning with help of modeling tool. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 41-44. Available online
Ecological concepts, and in particular population dynamics, has been found to be among the most difficult topics in biology. Some researchers pointed to students' relatively weak mathematical background as the main source of learning difficulties. This paper reports on an investigation of pupil's (n=73) reasoning about the ecological phenomena by using an iconic modelling tool, WorldMaker. The simulations eliminated the need for understanding of mathematical equations, and made the ecological concepts much more accessible to some children. However, many of the pupils reasoned from an anthropocentric perspective that obstructed their ability to predict ecological phenomena which requires systems thinking.
We developed a new system called CarettaKids that supports face-to-face collaborative learning by children. CarettaKids uses a sensing board based on the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to support collaboration in a shared space, and the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) device to support activity in personal spaces. We also introduced this system into an actual classroom environment to evaluate its performance in support for children's collaborative learning, by analyzing the children's interaction. As a result, we have confirmed that CarettaKids's feature of transition between two spaces, makes it possible for children to reflect on problems detected in the shared space so as to find solutions in their respective personal space, and to engage in an active exchange of opinions in the shared space, based on ideas generated from personal-space learning.
Buechley, Leah, Elumeze, Nwanua and Eisenberg, Michael (2006): Electronic/computational textiles and children's crafts. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 49-56. Available online
An astonishing array of new technologies is currently effecting a revolution in the professional design of textile artifacts. This integration of electronics and computation into textiles likewise suggests new directions in the practice of children's crafts. In this paper, we present a classification scheme that we believe will prove useful in structuring exploration and discussion of new directions in children's textile-based crafts. Within the context of this classification scheme, we describe several projects in our lab (along with early pilot-testing efforts) that offer examples of how children can work with computationally enriched textiles. We conclude by describing several extremely exciting-but nonetheless plausible-scenarios for continued work in this area.
Labrune, Jean-Baptiste and Mackay, Wendy E. (2006): Telebeads: social network mnemonics for teenagers. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 57-64. Available online
This article presents the design of Telebeads, a conceptual exploration of mobile mnemonic artefacts. Developed together with five 10-14 year olds across two participatory design sessions, we address the problem of social network massification by allowing teenagers to link individuals or groups with wearable objects such as handmade jewelery. We propose different concepts and scenarios using mixed-reality mobile interactions to augment crafted artefacts and describe a working prototype of a bluetooth luminous ring. We also discuss what such communication appliances may offer in the future with respect to interperception, experience networks and creativity analysis.
Hourcade, Juan Pablo (2006): Learning from preschool children's pointing sub-movements. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 65-72. Available online
Several studies have shown that children's performance with input devices in pointing tasks increases with age. However, none of these studies analyzes the sub-movements children make during pointing tasks. This paper analyzes mouse event data from a previous study to compare, at a sub-movement level, the way preschool children and young adults conduct pointing tasks. Results of the analysis show that the children made significantly more sub-movements than the adults. This was caused by children's inaccuracy in the length and direction of their sub-movements. The results also show that most sub-movements were started near the target, and that there was a balance between overshoots and undershoots in these sub-movements. Based on sub-movement data, this paper proposes an algorithm to identify when participants have difficulty pointing. The algorithm provides several advantages such as triggering a precision mode only when users experience difficulty, not requiring information on the location of visual targets, and not requiring information on the direction of mouse motion.
Baauw, Ester, Bekker, Tilde and Markopoulos, Panos (2006): Assessing the applicability of the structured expert evaluation method (SEEM) for a wider age group. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 73-80. Available online
This paper describes a study which examines whether a predictive evaluation method (SEEM) is suitable to assess products for an older age group than for which the evaluation method was originally developed. SEEM stands for Structured Expert Evaluation Method and is an analytical evaluation method especially developed for assessing the fun and usability of young children's educational computer games (children from 5 to 7 years old). In the present study SEEM was applied to assess educational computer games for children between 9 and 11 years old. Outcomes on scores for thoroughness (whether SEEM finds all problems), validity (whether SEEM makes predictions that are likely to be true) and appropriateness (whether SEEM is applied correctly) were compared. The results show that the trends for the thoroughness and the validity are the same for the two different age groups; however SEEM scores a bit better for the oldest age group. The appropriateness scores are about the same for the two age groups. The results indicate that SEEM can also be applied for assessing educational computer games for children between 9 and 11 years old.
Read, Janet C. and MacFarlane, Stuart (2006): Using the fun toolkit and other survey methods to gather opinions in child computer interaction. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 81-88. Available online
The paper begins with a review of some of the current literature on the use of survey methods with children. It then presents four known concerns with using survey methods for opinion gathering and reflects on how these concerns may impact on studies in Child Computer Interaction. The paper then investigates the use of survey methods in Child Computer Interaction and investigates the Fun Toolkit. Three new research studies into the efficacy and usefulness of the tools are presented and these culminate in some guidelines for the future use of the Fun Toolkit. The authors then offer some more general guidelines for HCI researchers and developers intending to use survey methods in their studies with children. The paper closes with some thoughts about the use of survey methods in this interesting but complex area.
Pardo, Sofia, Vetere, Frank and Howard, Steve (2006): Teachers' involvement in usability testing with children. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 89-92. Available online
This paper describes the involvement of teachers as facilitators in user-based evaluation of educational software. Findings from a case study that compare the behaviour of teachers and designers during the evaluation indicate that there is no strong evidence to support the current practice of teachers' tangential participation in the evaluation of educational software. Further research is needed to better understand the role teachers can play in this type of evaluation so that their knowledge and experience can positively contribute to the evaluation process and outcomes, whilst retaining the children's valuable contribution.
This paper describes the design of Camelot, a mobile outdoor game for small groups of children aged 7-10. Camelot was designed with the aim to encourage social interaction between the players and to encourage physical activity. The paper extends the research literature on design methodology for children, by recording and reflecting upon the lessons learnt by applying a range of techniques for involving children in the design of interactive systems.
Kahkonen, Matleena and Ovaska, Saila (2006): Initial observations on children and online instructions. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 93-96. Available online
When children use a computer, they often need instructions for how to proceed. However, giving instructions in the user interface is challenging: young children do not know how to read, or the instructions might be in a language they do not master. We describe three small scale usability studies where the amount and method of advice giving in the interface varied. Our results show that children manage to use properly designed software with no instructions at all. Some usability test protocols emphasize giving children spoken instructions to help them get started. In our case studies we report two kinds of adult presence in the group for providing the spoken instructions, and the mixed findings of the role of the adult.
Kaplan, Nancy, Chisik, Yoram and Levy, Debra (2006): Reading in the wild: sociable literacy in practice. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC06: Interaction Design and Children 2006. pp. 97-104. Available online
Online reading, especially among children, is an understudied phenomenon. Thus designers of digital libraries and pedagogic tools for children generally lack deep knowledge about how to shape reading experiences so that they will be attractive for young audiences. Without a nuanced picture of children as readers, we are unlikely to develop systems responsive to their needs and desires. Participatory design coupled with studies of prototypes in natural conditions may help us create experiences that contribute to proficient literacy practices among children 10 to 14 years old. Our participatory design processes revealed that children this age highly value sharing their experiences and that reading sociably can introduce new pleasures. The current study uses the Alph prototype to study how one small group of children responds to its sociable literacy features.
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