CN19 - Giving Children a Voice in the Design of Technology: What's new and old but still works

Allison Druin, HCIL, University of Maryland
Mona Leigh Guha, HCIL, University of Maryland
Jerry Fails, HCIL, University of Maryland

Over the years, children have taught us what it means to be brave; how difficult it is to be different; and how playing matters. When children are given a voice in the design of technology, their viewpoints, experiences, and needs can be supported. Attendees in this course will be introduced to the latest methods in designing new technologies with and for children. The course will include hands-on design activities that can be put to use tomorrow. Each design method activity will be given a context by presenting case study technologies that have been developed with that method. Attendees will leave the course having been introduced to or updated on co-design methods that can lead to the best possible new technologies for children.

Courses that have lead to the development of this course have been given in many venues over the past fifteen years, including at Interaction Design and Children 2003; International Congress on Toys, Games, and Media 2002; Participatory Design Conference 2002; CHI 1998, CHI 1995, CHI 1994, SIGGRAPH 1993, and CHI 1990.


  • Hands-on experience using the latest methods in designing new technologies with and for children.
  • Historical overview of co-designing with children
  • Case study examples of technologies that have been developed with children using co-design methods

The audience for this course requires no special background. We view design as most effective when it is interdisciplinary; therefore, we welcome and encourage attendance by industry professionals, academics, and students from a wide variety of communities (e.g., design, computer science, information studies, psychology and more).

Hands-on design activities, small and whole-group discussion, short presentations with slides and video

Instructor Backgrounds:
Allison Druin is director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab and Associate Professor in the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies. Since 1998, she has led interdisciplinary research teams of computer scientists, librarians, classroom teachers, artists, and children to create new educational technologies for children. Her work has included: developing digital libraries for children, designing technologies for families, and creating collaborative storytelling technologies for the classroom. Over the past 20 years of attending CHI conferences, she has lead 4 tutorials, one of which became her first book, Designing Multimedia Environments for Children (Wiley, 1996). Mona Leigh Guha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Human Development at the University of Maryland and is a graduate research assistant working on developing new technologies for the “Classroom of the Future.” Since 2002, she has worked with Dr. Druin in designing technology with and for children. Her doctoral research focuses on the cognitive and social benefits of the technology design processes for children as codesigners.