Abstract ii

Acknowledgements iii

Chapter 1: From analogue to digital: a new interface for education

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Aims and objectives
1.3 The organisation of the thesis
1.4 A summary of contextual research

Chapter 2: The Research Tool: about the production

2.1 Introduction
2.1.1 The original aims of the BBC project
2.1.2 The decision to use Starcatcher
2.2 Incorporating the literature review in the Research Tool
2.2.1 The need for an interface for teachers
2.2.2 Recognition of eye physiology and children’s vision issues
2.2.3 The role of manipulation of objects using the mouse
2.2.4 The potential of a pseudo 3-D storytelling interface metaphor
2.3 Developing the interface design
2.3.1 The teachers’ control panel menu
2.3.2 The children’s menu 2.3.3 The interactive song screen
2.3.4 The interactive story page
2.3.5 The activity pages
2.4 Summary

Chapter 3: The literature review

3.1 Introduction
3.2 IT in primary education
3.2.1 Logo, CAL and simulations: three trends in early IT development in schools
3.2.2 Information technology research (1980s-1990s)
3.2.3 Summary
3.3 Interface design
3.3.1 Introduction
3.3.2 Children’s eye function, field of view, and vision issues
3.3.3 The role of ergonomics and human factors
3.3.4 Pleasure in learning
3.3.5 Manipulation of objects and conventional education theory
3.3.6 The role of metaphor in interface design
3.3.7 Improving learning using pseudo 3-D perspective interfaces
3.4 A new holistic paradigm
3.5 Summary

Chapter 4: The methodology

4.1 Introduction
4.2 The first methodology pilot
4.3 The second methodology pilot
4.4 Refining the final methodology design
4.4.1 Introducing the research to children
4.4.2 Refinement of the classroom observations
4.4.3 Question schedule for individual interviews with children
4.4.4 Interview schedule with the teacher
4.4.5 Final adjustments to the research methodology for the main study
4.5 Technical issues remaining
4.6 Use of the digital audio recorder
4.7 Use of a computer database
4.8 Summary of changes for the final methodology design
4.9 Defining the research question
4.10 The criteria informing the main research question
4.11 Summary

Chapter 5: The main study

5.1 Introduction
5.2 The organisation of the main study
5.3 The organisation of data
5.4 The evidence
5.4.1 The role of written and audio instructions
5.4.2 The role of screen design 155
5.4.3 The role of mouse movements
5.5 The teachers’ control panel
5.6 The analysis of the evidence
5.6.1 Criterion 1: Are users clear about what task they can do?
5.6.2 Criterion 2: Are users clear how to make the interface work?
5.6.3 Criterion 3: Are users clear about what is happening?
5.6.4 Criterion 4: Do users find it easy to navigate?
5.6.5 Criterion 5: Is the interface activity an enjoyable?
5.6.6 Criterion 6: Does the interface engage the user through movement?
5.6.7 Criterion 7: Is the control of movement easy for small hands?
5.6.8 Criterion 8: Do small changes stimulate the user?
5.6.9 Criterion 9: Does the interface have multi-functionality?
5.6.10 Criterion 10: Is the product capable of organisation by teachers?
5.7 Summary

Chapter 6: Improving the quality of interaction

6.1 Introduction
6.2 The total impact assessment toolbox
6.3 Contributions from the literature and main study
6.4 Summary

Chapter 7: Discussion, implications and conclusion

7.1 Introduction
7.2 Improving the quality of educational software design
7.2.1 Education radio resources for multimedia
7.2.2 A new approach to the manipulation of information
7.2.3 A new approach to audio instructions
7.2.4 Eye and visual search theory
7.2.5 Pleasure in learning and educational simulations
7.2.6 Metaphors – the physical component
7.2.7 Teachers’ control of software
7.3 Future directions for improving the quality of interaction
7.3.1 Applications for the container metaphor
7.3.2 Software ergonomics
7.3.3 QuickTime VR in an education environment
7.4 Implications for further research
7.4.1 Education software design
7.4.2 Interactivity and the Internet
7.5 Implications for future research methodology
7.5.1 The digital audio recorder
7.5.2 The digital database
7.6 Conclusion

Glossary of terms



Appendix 1: Main study data collection schedules. Appendix 2: British Journal of Technology Paper,
‘Visual elements and container metaphors for multimedia’.
Appendix 3: List of papers and presentations during the research period.
Appendix 4: Starcatcher: programme 1 of the series, (cassette tape)
pupil’s booklet and teachers’ notes. (See separate attachment.)
Appendix 5: The CD-ROM of the Research Tool (Macintosh version).
Appendix 6: Titles of the PowerPoint reports for BBC Education Directorate.
(See in file Fieldworkdiary2.doc on accompanying CD-ROM of the Research Tool for the complete PowerPoint presentations).

Children and computers:

The development of graphical user interfaces to improve the quality of interaction.


  • Date of completion May: 2003

  • Take a look around the ideas in this on-line version of my thesis.

  • Click on the sub menu to investigate the abstract, chapters and references.

  • Unfortunately the research tool only runs in Director on a CD-ROM, but illustrations are provided in Chapter 2.