We tried a few different techniques here. We did keep Elmo in some cases, and we also provided tips on how to read. Sesame is a big fan of what they call dialogic reading, which is a term from the education literature which means asking questions when you read. So you’re all “Oh look, Elmo has a book, do you have a book, can you read a book”, that sort of thing. So we tried putting those tips into the pages on the reader-side. In this instance, it doesn’t make a difference either way. But when we had Elmo and no tips the kids really liked it, and we saw that people would read for nearly twice as long.By the way, it’s till there, you can use it. If you have kids around three years old, it turns out to be just perfect ofr them. Bit too hard for 2 year olds, and four year olds don’t find it keeps their interest for very long, but there’s a huge sweet spot for 3 year olds. We are aware of only limited lab trials that indicate that sustained distance interactions with such young children is generally possible. The fact that usage peaked for families with children age 3 shows that it is possible for families with even very young children to create meaningful connections over a distance.
We’re now exploring ways to roll this out to large populations. For example, we sell hundreds of millions of phones in India each year, and there’s a great deal of potential for rolling out an unconnected reading solution, pre-loaded onto those phones. This is the sort of thing we’re looking at right now, and we’re talking to publishers and the like, so that’s very exciting.
So, to summarize and gie you something to take home, here’s what we’ve learned from these studies.
New Technologies to Help Families Love Jofish Kaye IDEA Team, Nokia Research Center North America
Observations and interviews transcribed and coded
Making love, performing family 4
Design for families: rituals Consider existing family rituals and create new ones “Family Story Play: Reading with Young Children (and Elmo) Over a Distance”. Raffle, H., Ballagas, R., Revelle, G., Horii, H., Follmer, S., Go, J., Reardon, E., Mori, K., Paretti, C., Kaye, J., Spasojevic, M. CHI 2010. Joint with Sesame Workshop.
Results Long and rich interactions. Average book reading times from 7-9 minutes, as long as 24 minutes vs typical calls of 1-2 min. “[Story Play] was good because it helped interact towards the book… I know every time he saw the light bulb, he went to press the button and he would actually listen a little bit and he would be talking about the book” (Mother of 3 yo boy) 7
Content is key Average reading time per session was 11.7 min vs. typical calls of 1-2 min. Reading session times almost doubled for ‘Elmo Only’ condition. Elmo brings the books to life. Usage peaked for 3 year olds Average reading time per session, Total reading time across sessions, Total number of pages read 9
In conclusion: The value of rich, open-ended, in-depth qualitative fieldwork Take ‘families’ seriously as a demographic, not just the individual or the corporation. (This is more radical than it sounds.) Families are increasingly diasporic and we should design for that. Provide activities for cross-generational play, not just conversation. 11