Interfaces to support children's co-present collaboration: multiple mice and tangible technologies

Abstract

This paper presents evaluation of two technologies designed to encourage collaborative behaviour in young children in a classroom setting. KidPad, a 2_D drawing package with zooming capabilities, was adapted for use with multiple mice and tangible interfaces. The first section of the paper focuses on a study carried out to evaluate the effect of multiple mice on children’s collaborative behaviour at a desktop computer. Positive effects of the use of two mice included symmetry of mouse use amongst pairs and a greater degree of engagement in the task. However a number of usability issues were identified when children attempted to collaborate, particular problems were faced when the shared control was taken away, and one of the users took control, for example, when navigating. Different types of working styles were also evident between the one mouse and two mice conditions. The second section of the paper describes a move away from the desktop computer towards room-based technologies. Tangible interfaces to KidPad were developed in order to facilitate shared control over actions such as navigation where difficulties had been identified in a desktop situation. The visibility of action is highlighted as a fundamental element in the support of collaboration on a larger scale. Finally, future work and the potential of these technologies in encouraging shareable co-present interaction in a real school context are briefly discussed.

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