ASIS&T IA Summit 2003 "Making Connections"  
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Kids in the Mi(d)st
Sunday, 8:30 - 9:30
Session Two

Nancy Kaplan
Kids in the Mi(d)st
Nancy Kaplan, Professor, Director, School of Information Arts and Technologies

We all know that user-centered design requires sharing the creative space with people who are not professional designers.  It also means using a variety of methods, from ethnographic techniques to contextual inquiry. In pursuit of this goal, how many of us are ready to share the design task with partners much younger than ourselves, say those who still number their years in single digits?  Yet we cannot, or at least should not, develop information spaces or software for young people without involving them directly as design partners.

This presentation will describe the process of building a design team that includes people whose ages range from 9 to 55. As part of the curriculum in the Masters of Interaction Design and Information Architecture program at the University of Baltimore, we have assembled such a design team to develop interfaces for the International Children's Digital Library.  Our experiences in the first stage of a three-year, grant-funded project provide fresh insights into the value, and the challenges, of making real connections with an important but under-utilized population segment and may help to clarify more general issues arising from user-centered design methods.

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