Tangible interactions and kids

The effect of tangible interfaces on children’s collaborative behaviour.. (pdf) Stanton, D., Bayon, B., Abnett, C., Cobb, S and O’Malley, C. In Proceedings of Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2002) ACM Press. P.820.

The physical nature of the classroom means that children are continually divided into small groups. The present study examined collaboration on a story creation task using technologies believed to encourage and support collaborative behaviour. Four children used tangible technologies over three sessions. The technology consisted of a large visual display in which they could input content (using Personal Digital Assistants (Pda) and a scanner), record sounds (using RF-ID tags) and navigate around the environment using an arrangement of sensors called ‘the magic carpet’. The children could then retell their story using bar-coded images and sounds. The three sessions were video recorded and analysed. Results indicate the importance of immediate feedback and visibility of action for effective collaboration to take place.

Why do I blog this? even though the paper is short, it's interesting to see what can be extracted from the analysis of kids using tangible devices. For instance, I like that result: "Children were often observed to collaborate without verbal communication indicating that the design of the technology encouraged collaborative behaviour." and would love to see how it works. Awareness of others actions (and hence feedback/through) seemed to be very important for that matter.