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Do Tangible Interfaces Improve Collaboration between Young Children in Educational Settings? Hannah Staddon Rea Wilson Lisa Robinson Mridula Iyer
Overview • Collaboration Techniques • Controversy • Ely the Explorer • Results • Criticisms • Conclusion
What Is Collaboration? • “learning environments in which small groups, two to six learners, work together to achieve a common goal” (Underwood & Underwood, 1999: 12) • Working effectively with another individual, avatars or technology • It involves: – Mental articulation of thoughts – Co-operation and sharing – Constructing knowledge – “meaning that is constructed in successful processes of collaboration as a shared group product” (Stahl, 2005: 80)
Advantages of Learning Collaboratively • • Motivating Enjoyable Challenges original concepts in child’s mind Increase self-esteem Conflict (Piaget – Socio-Cognitive) Peer scaffolding (Vygotsky- Socio-Cultural) Less off task
Collaboration Skills Present in Early Development • Preoccupation with sharing knowledge, experiences, artifacts (Crook, 1998) • “ “…. only humans have the kind of appetite a one-year old begins to show for sharing the arbitrary use of tools, places, manners and experiences” “ (Trevarthan, 1988 within Crook, 1998) • Development of language, vast degree of collaboration with adults (Bruner, 1983 within Crook, 1998) • Children exhibit good playground collaboration yet this stops in the classroom (Crook, 1998)
Why is Collaboration Difficult for Young Children in the Classroom? • Developmental researchers suggest young children do not have the cognitive skills for successful collaboration (Crook, 1998) • “Ethnographies of classroom in early education reveal that effective pupil collaboration is strikingly rare” (Crook, 1998: 238 -239) • Piaget - until the developmental age of 7 believed the child was governed by egocentric thought. • In some circumstances of collaborative interactions, “skilled peers often dominated decision making, ignored their partner and communicated little” (Rogoff, 1991: 355)
Technological Attempts to Improve Collaboration • “Children’s success as collaborative learners depends a lot on the character of the resources at hand to mediate their interaction” (Crook, 1997: 239). • Original desk top PC limits the physical interaction with the task (use of 1 input), (Africano et al, 2004) • Multiple input devices reduces ability to dominate (Stewart, 1999, within Stanton et al, 2002). • Each child has an input device - more engagement, more active, and more preference by child (Inkpen et al. 1999) • Children playing together on 1 machine completed significantly more puzzles than a child playing alone (Inkpen et al 1995)
Successful Collaboration 3 aspects of social interaction necessary for successful collaboration (Crook, 1998) 1) sense of a community when problem solving 2) external sources improving collaboration e. g. ) computers, digital toys 3) presence of interpersonal relations prior to collaboration, likes/dislikes/expectations – Gender composition – Group task
Controversy Children working collaboratively without technology vs. Children working collaboratively with technology
Collaborating with Technology Case Study: Africano et al (2004): “Designing Tangible Interfaces for Children’s Collaboration” Aims: Investigate whether a new multi-user interactive play system supported collaboration, interactivity and promoted sufficient enjoyment and engagement of younger children
The Ely Doll • Both a soft toy and an on -screen character • An agent designed to guides children through a learning experience giving instructions and feedback
The on-screen Ely Explorer The Teleporter The on-screen display On-screen Ely
Method • 9 pre-school children (M = 5 years 9 months) • 14 first grade children (M = 7 years) • Children from the same class were randomly assigned to mixed-sex triads • Two Tasks: 1) Skills: Language & Problem Solving Location: Holland Task: to grow a tulip 2) Skills: Mental Arithmetic Location: Sweden Task: build a traditional house
Measurements • Six dependent variables analysed: – – – Interactivity Collaboration Verbal Discussion Engagement Motivation and Enjoyment
Findings • Results showed that the system supported both sequential and concurrent interaction and collaboration • High levels of enjoyment, engagement and motivation • Encouraged communication • The split interface was seen as a novel way for children to learn from each other and compare their work constructively • However, levels of collaboration varied with age.
Criticisms of Study • Too Complex for young children • Costly • Collaborative context limited to one setting • Lack of generally accepted definitions of interactivity and collaboration and the non-existence of a baseline for these variables • Differences in cognitive level • Content design • Instructing the children before testing
Peers vs Technology Criticisms of Peers Criticisms of Technology • Children under 7 are still egocentric, and distract each other. • • Facilitator exhaustion. • Peer interaction and relationships can remove the standardising element that technology aims to introduce in education. Technology is still not sophisticated enough to ever replace humans. Problems still exist in terms of: – Interactivity – Mobility – Intelligence and Adaptability • Avatars and computer programs, can never fully teach and appreciate social skills. • Facilitator exhaustion is necessary to show the true functioning of humans. • Computer programs are currently only capable of repetition and do not offer the element of competition like peers do. • Aided collaboration, but this could be as a result of the individual component of this exercise
Technology as a Replacement for Humans • Can a teacher ever be properly replaced? • Children get dependant on technology as a means to communicate. • Interest wanes as children get used to the technology. • Limitations for children with learning disabilities.
Conclusion • “Research shows that the use of computers can foster social support and interaction” (Africano et al, 2004: 855) • However, Collaboration with technology is not necessarily at a stage that we can say it is better than without. • Technology aims to replace the human and standardise the means of collaboration within education. However it is impossible at the moment to replicate human characteristics such as emotion in a computer. • To conclude: there is no such thing as a “standard human” and therefore a computer can never replace the human being and the social skills they bring to an educational setting.
References • • Africano, D. , Berg, S. , Lindbergh, K. , Lundholm, P. , Nilbrink, F. and Persson, A. (2004) Designing Tangible Interfaces for Children’s Collaboration, CHI 2004, p. 853 -868. Crook, C. (1998) Children as Computer Users: The Case of Collaborative Learning, Computers Education, 30(3/4), p 237 -247. Inkpen, K. , Booth, K. S. , Klawe, M. and Upitis, R. (1995) Playing Together Beats Playing Apart, Especially For Girls, Proceedings of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL)‘ 95, p 177 -181. Inkpen, K. M. , Ho-Ching, W. , Kuederle, O. , Scott, S. D. and Shoemaker, G. B. D. (1999) “This is Fun! We’re All Best Friends and We’re All Playing”: Supporting Children’s Synchronous Collaboration. Proceedings of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL)‘ 99, p 252 -259.
References • • Lewis, A. , Maras. P, Simonds, L. , (2000), “Young School Children Working Together: A Measure of Individualism/ Collectivism”, Child: Care, Health & Development, 26: 3, pp 229 -238. Rogoff, B, (1991), “Social interaction as apprenticeship in thinking guided participation in spatial planning” in Resnick, L. B. , Levine, J. M. , Tesley, S. , (eds) Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition, Washington DC, American Psychology Association Stahl, G. (2005) Group Cognition in Computer-Assisted Collaborative Learning, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21, p 79 -90. Stanton, D. , Neale, H. and Bayon, V. (2002) Interfaces to Support Children’s Co-present Collaboration: Multiple Mice and Tangible Technologies, Computer Support for Collaborative Learning: (CSCL) 2002. ACM press, p 342 -352.
References • Underwood, J. and Underwood, G. (1999) Task Effects on Cooperative and Collaborative Learning with Computers. In Littleton, K. and Light, P. (eds) Learning With Computers, Analysing Productive Interaction. London: Routledge.