KidPad: A Design Collaboration Between Children, Technologists, and Educators


GOALS FOR APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT

We have focused on three goals in the development of new learning environments for children:

1)

 

To develop integrated learning environments that support visual and verbal literacy.

Children like to tell stories; they love to draw. We observed this time and again among the children we worked with in schools. In addition, teachers and parents find it crucial that children learn to express themselves with words and pictures. A new type of literacy is being stressed by educators that asks learners to be literate verbal and visual thinkers [9, 13, 14]. With the advent of multimedia technologies, children and adults must come to make sense of their world in words, pictures, sound, video and more [15, 18].

 

2)

To support learners in constructing their own paths to knowledge.

All too often, when a computer application is labeled "educational" verses "a game", it comes to mean "drill and practice" instruction or an interactive textbook. Flashcards which prompt children for the "right" answers are not the only way to create meaningful learning environments [8, 16]. Recently, educational environments for children have focused on more open-ended, tools-oriented environments. These are often called "constructivist" or "constructionist" applications which offer children tools to explore different content areas by constructing their own paths to knowledge [8, 10, 11, 17]. Examples of such environments are Logo (a children's programming language), HyperStudio (a multimedia authoring tool for children), and PageMaker (a desktop publishing tool often used by children).

 

3)

To develop methodologies that offer a better understanding of what children want or need when using new technologies.

A majority of the current literature that discusses children's input in the technology development process consists of anecdotal descriptions of how children have offered feedback (e.g., suggestion for button changes, add-on features, etc.). While this type of interaction with children is valuable in short-term technology development, it does not offer possibilities for generalization and lasting impact on new technologies. If children can be heard before technology has begun to be developed, more profound technology innovations may be possible. For example, at CHI'95, 50 tutorial attendees worked with 25 children in small design groups to prototype new multimedia environments for children. From this experience, the adult participants offered such comments as: "Kids really know what they like..." "The children seemed to be catalysts and sparked ideas I wouldn't have thought of..." "I underestimated the kids..." "I think the children definitely changed the group dynamics and our design..."[8]. At the University of New Mexico we believe it is important to develop methodologies that support collaboration experiences with children as our design partners.

 

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1

Abstract

4

User Profile

7

Summary

2

Collaboration

5

Design Process

8

Acknowledgments

3

Goals for Development

6

Design Evolution

9

References