The university’s Child Computer Interaction (ChiCI) Group led by Professor Janet Read pioneers research to involve children in the design of software.
A key driver for this project is to address the imbalance in young people’s active participation in the development of new IT products. It is best practice for the computer industry to get users to participate in product development but the expense means it is often avoided. Using and consulting children is even more rare.
The research uses inclusive methods to engage young people in the UK and worldwide in innovative, collaborative and participatory design processes. This raises their career aspirations, gives them a better understanding and awareness of the software design/computer game industry and gives them a say in the design of mobile apps and games.
The impact of the research is recognised nationally and internationally with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) conference for Interaction Design and Children (IDC) changing its publication policy as a result of the group's research and guidance. Previously, there was no formal requirement to state the ethical practices within research papers involving interaction design with children. The change has influenced the behaviour of researchers and ethically informed and safeguarded children from commercial exploitation. This has benefitted the industry and enabled children to enjoy better software products.