Creative Learning team at Stanford


The Interaction Design and Children (IDC) `17 Conference at Stanford was a special conference for the Creative Learning team at the lab. For the first time in the miLAB’s history, three student-led papers were accepted and presented at the same time, one full paper and two work in progress papers. The team arrived en-masse – Tom Hitron, Ofir Sadka, Aviv Sheriff, Yasmin Keats, and Rona Sadan all arrived to present their papers and participate in the conference. In addition, lab director Oren Zuckerman came to give his support, as well as lab alumnus David Bar-El, now a PhD at Northwestern University.

Aviv Sheriff, who presented his paper on ‘CataKit’ said he was excited to discover that the IDC research community is extremely supportive. The intellectual connections and nourishment that occurred in just a few days were incredible. “Some of our favorite researchers in the field – Prof. Mike Eisenberg, Prof. Paulo Bilkstein, Prof. Dor Abrahamson approached us after our presentations to give constructive feedback and even propose collaborations and positions”.

Tom Hitron, who presented his paper on the design and implementation of Scratch Nodes said it was inspiring to meet so many people with devotion to create and explore with technologies for children. He mentioned a notable moment from the poster session, where he also presented a small demo. A professor he highly appreciate tried playing with the Scratch Nodes and almost broke it. “It events like that helps to break the ice, it lets you speak directly to the person and helps to remove the tension of saying the wrong thing”. He also mentioned “Between a Block and a Typeface”, paper by Weintrop & Wilensky, highlighting the importance of exposing children to visual block languages as an instrument to learn standard coding.

Ofir Sadka presented his Work-in-Progress paper: ‘From Parent to Mentors’. He was surprised to hear about the diverse topics researches in the IDC community investigate. He notes Alissa’s Antle keynote ‘Crazy Like Us: Design for Vulnerable Populations‘, where Alissa raised the discussion regarding the potential ethical challenges while conducting researches with children. Her talk made him think about the potential impact the researches in the lab might have on children’s’ lives.

Overall, the team was able to learn of the latest research trends, such as the development of assistive technologies for autistic children, research on computational thinking, and more. The trip was a milestone for the Creative Learning team and the lab is already working on new studies based on these research projects.