The interactive tools available today include pre-designed course units in the form of VCDs, ipods, interactive toys and games. The design process for making these tools into effective products has now become a complex subject in itself.
As USERS, they dictate the output specifications of the tool to be developed by generating desired functional aspects. There are generally two reasons for researchers to ask children to take on the role of technology user: (1) To test a general concept that may help future technology developers and (2) To better understand the process of learning which may contribute to future educational practices.
As TESTERS, they are made to use the tools under observation by adults, peers and designers. This generates an empirical database regarding feedback and corrective measures. This data is then utilized for modifying the design, before it is released to the outside world for product realization and its end use.
As INFORMANTS, the children play a major part in the design process. The input of the design shall take into consideration the children's' reaction to the existing technology by observation and asking questions. The testing and validation of the design shall involve the children, who should be asked questions before any technology is developed, the child may be observed with existing technologies, or they may be asked for input on paper sketches. Once the technology is developed, the child may again offer input and feedback. With this role, the child plays a part in the design process at various stages, based on when researchers believe they can be informed by children.
As DESIGN PARTNERS, children are considered to be equal stakeholders in the design of new technology throughout the entire experience. As partners, children contribute to the process in ways appropriate for the children and the process (Allison Druin, Human computer Interaction lab, University of Maryland).
Each role is used today by some portion of researchers and developers.
Impact On Children's Lives:
The net-centric generation of today values its abilities to use the web and other software technology to create a self-paced, customized learning path. Current interactive gadgets like web logs, VCDs and ipods, along with online access to various tools, facilitates the formation of learning communities. The other stakeholders like parents at home, social contacts as well as teachers in the school environment are naturally involved in a supporting role. This encourages a social networking environment where exchange and sharing of various tools is possible, thus extending the awareness and accessibility of such tools (Baird Derek E et al, V34n1 page 5-32 -2005-6, Journals of Education technology systems).
New Research Methods:
The basic approach for further development of technology needs to shed the earlier notions such as 'ALL KNOWING ADULTS' versus 'ALL LEARNING STUDENTS'. Recent papers such as 'interface design - a neglected issue in education software' presented by