Published: June 19, 2023

IDC conference logo with background in the style of children's drawings

11 ATLAS community members have contributed to work featured at the 22nd annual ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference to be held on June 19-23, 2023 at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. IDC is the premier international conference for researchers, educators and practitioners to share the latest research findings, innovative methodologies and new technologies in the areas of inclusive child-centered design, learning and interaction. IDC’23 is hosted by the Center for Computer Science and Learning Sciences at Northwestern University.

Coming out of the pandemic, this year’s theme asks participants to “rediscover childhood” to understand what it means to be a child in this and coming decades and what adults can do to provide a sustainable and equitable future for the next generation. Key topics include privacy, ethics, equity, social and emotional wellbeing, sustainability, and healthy human development.


Research presented by ATLAS faculty, students and affiliates

Designing Together, Miles Apart: A Longitudinal Tabletop Telepresence Adventure in Online Co-Design with Children
Casey Lee Hunt (ATLAS THING Lab member, PhD student), Kaiwen Sun, Zahra Dhuliawala, Fumi Tsukiyama, Iva Matkovic, Zachary Schwemler (ATLAS MS alumnus), Anastasia Wolf, Zihao Zhang, Allison Druin, Amanda Huynh, Daniel Leithinger (ATLAS THING Lab Director, Computer Science faculty member), Jason Yip

Children’s online co-design has become prevalent since COVID-19. However, related research focuses on insights gained across several shorter-term projects, rather than longitudinal investigations. To explore longitudinal co-design online, we engaged in participatory design with children (ages 8 - 12) for 20 sessions in two years on a single project: an online collaboration platform with tabletop telepresence robots. We found that (1) the online technology space required children to play a role as technology managers and troubleshooters, (2) the home setting shaped online social dynamics, and (3) providing children the ability to choose their design techniques prevented gridlock from situational uncertainties. We discuss how each finding resulted from interplay between our long-term technology design and online co-design processes. We then present insights about the future of online co-design, a conceptual model for longitudinal co-design online, and describe opportunities for further longitudinal online co-design research to generate new methods, techniques, and theories.


Exploring Computational Thinking with Physical Play through Design
Junnan Yu, Ronni Hayden (PhD student), Ricarose Roque (Assistant Professor, Information Science)

Physical play has often been leveraged to provide children with active and engaging learning experiences. However, coding activities are predominantly sedentary in front of the screen, and the application of physical play in Computer Science education is less explored, e.g., how can we engage in computational thinking (CT) through physical play? In this design-based exploration, we conducted three design activities where young children, college students, and researchers were invited to create physical play projects using the BBC micro:bit and reflect on their experiences. By examining participants’ projects and creating processes, we provide empirical evidence that remixing physical play activities with coding can engage learners in various CT concepts and practices, reveal how CT concepts and practices can be represented in physical play, and highlight implications for designing physical play-mediated computational learning experiences. Ultimately, we encourage more learning experiences to incorporate physical play into computing education for children.

Ricarose Roque chairs the session “Computational and Data Literacy” in which this paper is included.


[Pictorial] Imagining Alternative Visions of Computing: Photo-Visuals of Material, Social, and Emotional Contexts from Family Creative Learning
Ricarose Roque (Assistant Professor, Information Science)

This pictorial presents visuals of families engaging with creative technologies as “knowledge-building artifacts” to provoke reflection on the social, material, and emotional context of designed interactions (“things that make you think”) as well as provocations to re-value these contexts and promote alternative visions in what and how engagement with computing can look like (“things that matter”). The selected images are from a large and ongoing collection of documentation from a family technology program. The images were captured using the Reggio Emilia documentation approach to documentation, which aims to “make learning visible.”

Ricarose Roque is one of three Pictorial Chairs in the conference Organizing Committee.


[Work-in-progress] Cartoonimator: A Low-cost, Paper-based Animation Kit for Computational Thinking
Krithik Ranjan (ATLAS ACME Lab member, PhD student), Peter Gyory (ATLAS ACME Lab member, PhD Candidate), Michael L. Rivera (Utility Research Lab Director, Assistant Professor, Human-Computer Interaction and Digital Fabrication), and Ellen Yi-Luen Do (ATLAS ACME Lab Director, Computer Science faculty member)

Computational thinking has been identified as an important skill for children to learn in the 21st century, and many innovative kits and tools have been developed to integrate it into children’s learning. Yet, most solutions require the use of devices like computers or other expensive hardware, thus being inaccessible to low-income schools and communities. We present Cartoonimator, a low-cost, paper-based computational kit for children to create animations and engage with computational thinking. Cartoonimator requires only paper and a smartphone to use, offering an affordable learning experience. Children can draw the scenes and characters for their animation on the paper, which is printed with computer vision markers. We developed the mobile web app to provide an interface to capture keyframes and compile them into animations. In this paper, we describe the implementation and workflow of Cartoonimator, its deployment with children at a local STEAM event, and a planned evaluation for the kit.


[Work-in-progress] Empower Children in Nigeria to Design the Future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through Writing
Cornelius Onimisi Adejoro, Luise Arn, Larissa Schwartz (Master's student), Tom Yeh (Associate Professor, Computer Science)

This paper presents a new approach to engaging children in Nigeria to share their views of AI. This approach is centered on an inclusive writing contest for children in a secondary school in Abuja to write about AI to compete for prizes and share their writings with others. A preliminary analysis of the first 11 articles we received exhibits diverse gender and ethnic representation that conveys cultural values and perspectives distinct from those of the children in Western countries. This finding suggests future work to conduct an in-depth cross-cultural analysis of the articles and to replicate similar writing contests to engage children in other underrepresented countries