Druin, A., Revelle, G., Bederson, B., Hourcade, J., Lee, J., Campbell, D. (May 2002)
Over the last three years, we have been developing a collaborative digital library interface where two children can collaborate using multiple mice on a single computer to access multimedia information concerning animals. This technology, called “SearchKids” leverages our lab's past work in co-present collaborative zoomable interfaces for young children. This paper describes the differences in children's collaborative behavior and dialogue when using two different software conditions to search for animals in the digital library. In this study, half the children had to “confirm” their collaborative activities (e.g., both children had to click on a given area to move to that area). The other half used an “independent” collaboration technique (e.g., just one mouse click allows the pair to move to that area). The participants in this study were 98 second and third grade children (ages 7-9 years old) from a suburban public elementary school in Prince George's County, Maryland. The children were randomly divided into two groups and paired with a classmate of the same gender. Each pair was asked to find as many items as possible from a list of 20 items given a limit of 20 minutes. Sessions were video taped and the first and last five minutes of each session were coded for discussion type and frequency. The results of our study showed distinct differences between groups in how children discussed their shared goals, collaborative tasks, and what outcomes they had in successfully finding multimedia information in the digital library. These findings suggest various ways educators might use and technologists might develop new collaborative technologies for learning. Keywords Children, Collaboration, Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Digital Libraries, Educational Applications, Single Display Groupware (SDG), SearchKids, Zoomable User Interfaces (ZUIs).