N. 21, Summer 2014

Table of contentsAuthor index

This special issue of the IxD&A journal focuses on design for children and older people, both in teaching and in design practice. The aim is to expand the results from the DEVICE project (DEVICE - DEsign for Vulnerable generatIons – Children and Elderly) and from the workshops “Show me yours, and I’ll show you mine – Teaching design for children and the elderly” held at the The 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers in Oslo 2013 and “Curriculum or not – Show us how you teach Interaction Design & Children!” held at the IDC - Interaction Design & Children 2014 conference in Aarhus. This goal is achieved by discussing issues related to the involvement of children and older people in Interaction Design, aiming also at a better understanding of the underlying concerns and potentials in this realm. This special issue thus represents an attempt to collect and share the contributions of educators, researchers, designers and practitioners regarding teaching designers Interaction Design for children and older people. In addition, it tries to foster the sharing of best practices and methods, and to encourage a discussion in the relevant academic and professional communities. Despite the fact that a growing interest is targeting the needs of children and older people in design processes, only little research and debate have been devoted to developing teaching modules for design methods and practices aiming at covering these particular tasks. Our main concern is thus focused onto the risk that a gap between the accumulation of knowledge in the field and the transfer of this knowledge to new generations of designers could emerge and grow at a greater pace compared to the efforts put in place to fill it in.

The papers included in this special issue cover a wide range of approaches and case studies and discuss different aspects of design for children and older people. The first two papers focus on educating the next generations of designers in design for children and older people, while the following four papers bring up different applications, examples and studies that demonstrate different approaches to working with design for these user groups.

The paper 'Teaching Interaction Design and Children: Understanding the Relevance of Theory for Design' by Tilde Bekker, Wolmet Barendregt, Panos Markopoulos, Janet Read, describes the evolution of a Master’s degree course in Interaction Design and Children by investigating in particular how to include the theoretical knowledge about children development theory in designers' work. In conclusion, the authors list some key elements that support the learning process of incorporating theoretical knowledge in design activities. In the second paper, 'Training designers for vulnerable generations: a quest for a more inclusive design' the authors present findings from a project focusing on how design education can be improved to better take into account the needs of both children and older people. Based on an international collaboration that among other things included desktop surveys, interviews with stakeholders and 14 pilot studies in four different countries, the paper shows how a number of training needs, nine freely accessible educational modules, and an award focusing on design for children and older people were developed. The aim of the paper is both to encourage educators to include design for children and older people into their teaching and to enhance the interest and knowledge of professional designers.
The author Morris Siu-yung Jong introduces a digital collaborative knowledge building environment named Learning Villages, based on social inquiry learning through multi-player online role-play gaming, in the paper 'Elementary Students’ View of Collaborative Knowledge Building in LearningVillages'. The paper discusses the pedagogical design of the learning environment, as well as the experiences and results from testing.  The environment has been tested by over two hundred pupils in fifth grade in Hong Kong, and the results show that the children did learn through collaborative knowledge building, and that especially the low-academic achievers were more positive towards this form of learning. In 'The Videographic Requirements Gathering Method for Adolescent-Focused Interaction Design' the authors Tamara Peyton & Erika S. Poole describes a method for including adolescent populations into the requirements gathering process. The method called videographic requirements gathering is based on the concept that the adolescent participants create their own media, for instance videos, using tools like mobile devices and standard movie editing software. The media created by the participants can help designers earn an insight into the lives of the participants. The method presented also includes elements of co-creation and prototyping using the captured media as a starting point. In the paper, the authors in addition to presenting the method also discuss experiences from use and present advice on how common problems can be faced when the technique is used in practice.
The authors Andreas Komninos, Emma Nicol and Mark Dunlop in the paper “Reflections on design workshops with older adults for touchscreen mobile text entry” explore relationships between older users and touchscreen devices. The paper is based on a study on mobile text entry aimed at developing new keyboard layouts. The study involved several rounds of user involvement and various participatory design activities together older adults. The paper presents the background, the design process, methodological lessons learnt from involving the users into the design process and also direct lessons specifically related to text entry. The authors conclude by stating that they are more aware than ever of that the older adult population is a diverse group engaging in a wide range of activities. Finally, the paper titled 'Involving children and elderly in the development of new design concepts to become active together' by Fenne van Doorn, Mathieu Gielen, Pieter Jan Stappers, rounds up this special issue with a paper where the needs of both children and older people are taken into account in the same project. The paper presents a case study describing the design process of an activity park intended for all generations. In the project methods such as contextmapping and co-research were used by both children and older people as input to a design competition and as part of the process for selecting the winning concept. The methods used for involving both children and older people as well as the outcome of the design process are presented and discussed. The authors note that while working with this diverse user base has its challenges an even bigger challenge might be to find the projects which really are relevant for, and engages, both children and older people at the same time and leads to a result meaningful for everyone involved.
The editors of the special issue would like to thank all authors for their submissions and the reviewers for their valuable feedback and timely response.


Caterina Calefato, Eva Eriksson, Chiara Ferrarini, Olof Torgersson