Oct 2014

Janet Read, Children, Text Input – and the Writing Process


The process of learning to write is both cognitive and motoric.  Forming symbols into words and committing them to a surface is a process laden with complexity; creating the meaning that will be represented by these words is even more complex.

Digital technologies provide opportunities and insights for the study of writing processes.  With keyboard capture and pen stroke capture important information can be gathered to make writing systems more child suited and to provide useful assistance to beginner writers.  Data captured during the electronic transcription of writing can also provide insights into how writing emerges as a form.

This talk will present child computer interaction against the context of children writing using electronic means.  The marriage of the text input space, the digital ink space and the child will be explored using examples from recent research.


Prof. Janet C Read (BSc, PGCE, PhD) is an international expert in Child Computer Interaction having supervised 7 PhD students to completion, examined 14 PhD students in six different European countries and currently supervising 8 PhD students studying a range of topics including the use of colour in teenage bedrooms, the design of interactive systems for dogs, the use of scaffolding in serious games, the use of text input to detect fraudulent password use, collaborative gaming for children, evaluation of systems for children and the forensic detection process.  Her personal current research is in three main areas – she has recently published several papers on the ethics of engaging with children in participatory research activities offering a model for working with children which ensures they are given full information, and also a set of techniques that can be used to ensure that children’s contributions to interaction design are treated with respect. A second strand of interest is in the study of fun and the study of means to measure it.  The Fun Toolkit, which is a set of tools to measure the experience of children when using interactive technology, is her most cited work and this is work that has developed over time but is still being examined.  The uses of digital ink with children, and the whole area of text input for children, both with standard keyboards and with `handwriting recognition completes her current research portfolio. Professor Read has acted as PI on several projects (see below) and is the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Child Computer Interaction.

This seminar is part of our ongoing series from researchers in HCI. See here for our current schedule.