The importance of narrative in design for children

Last week as part of the Interaction Design and Children Conference (IDC) in NYC Rebecca Cober and I had a chance to take part in a workshop at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) entitled: Narrative Contexts as a Design Element. The workshop was organized by Peggy Monahan, and Dorothy Bennett, and special gests Jessie Hopkins and David Glauber from Sesame Street Workshop (JOY!). The goal of the workshop was to look at some of the existing exhibits at NYSCI and try to improve them by adding a rich layer of narrative through the addition of simple low-fi prototypes (e.g., using cardboard, felt, string, or just pen and paper). Read more →

Common Knowledge – Alpha 1


We’ve been developing a tablet-IWB (interactive whiteboard) discourse tool for the past year and a half. Our first implementation (May 2011) was a simple application that allowed students to contribute “Inquiry” and “Idea/Comment” notes from tablets. These notes (in response to a newspaper article) appeared instantaneously on the classroom’s IWB on a simple chronological T-table with the column headings: “Inquiry” and “Idea/Comment”:
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Bugs in the walls!

Students at a WallCology portal, examining the digital ecosystem of Habitat 3


The Encore Lab is using the Embedded Phenomena (EP) and the Knowledge Community and Inquiry (KCI) frameworks to investigate technologies designed to foster collaborative knowledge construction in elementary science classrooms. In EP environments, a media-rich representation of a scientific phenomena is mapped on to the physical space of a classroom for an extended period of time.
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Multiple Screens For Multiple Uses and the Growth of HCI for Education

This post is about an article I recently read (really you can skip directly to the Google slideshow if you want) which really makes me feel good about a lot of the things we’ve been doing over the past four years in understanding what it means to connect students in a smart classroom across a wide variety of devices, displays, and even locations and contexts.

Our earlier work showed us that when collaborating students tended to do so more effectively using larger format displays (as huddling around small screens tended to make some students get pushed to the fringe and prevented them from taking part in the discourse). We also found that large displays were great for the teacher in seeing the work of the class at-a-glance (versus on small screens) and in discussing it with larger groups (
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Road Show in a land down under


This year’s ICLS conference was held at the University of Sydney, in Australia. Members from the Encore Lab had the opportunity to present recent research at various paper and poster sessions. This post will highlight one of the sessions where we presented our research from the Embedded Phenomena for Inquiry Communities (EPIC) project, in which we embedded “bugs in the walls” of a grade six classroom. Six posters were positioned around the room, each describing one element of the research: a discussion tool, a tool that gives teachers a “birds-eye view” of student activity, aggregation of student observations, the professional growth of the teachers, theoretical frameworks that underpin the research, and fidelity of science practice.
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