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Children's interactions with interactive toy technology

By Rosemary Luckin, D Connolly, L Plowman and S Airey


Digital toys offer the opportunity to explore software scaffolding through tangible interfaces that are not bound to the desktop computer. This paper describes the empirical work completed by the CACHET (Computers and Children’s Electronic Toys) project team investigating young children’s use of interactive toy technology. The interactive toys in question are plush and cuddly cartoon characters with embedded sensors that can be squeezed to evoke spoken feedback from the toy. In addition to playing with the toy as it stands, the toy can be linked to a desktop PC with compatible software using a wireless radio connection. Once this connection is made the toy offers hints and tips to the children as they play with the accompanying software games. If the toy is absent, the same hints and tips are available through an on-screen animated icon of the toy’s cartoon character. The toys as they stand are not impressive as collaborative learning partners, as their help repertoire is inadequate and even inappropriate. However, the technology has potential: children can master the multiple interfaces of toy and screen and, when the task requires it and the help provided is appropriate, they will both seek and use it. In particular, the cuddly interface experience can offer an advantage and the potential for fun interfaces that might address both the affective and the effective dimensions of learners’ interactions

Year: 2003
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