(slides 22MB)


Layered Elaboration: A new technique for co-design with children

27 th Annual Human-Computer Interaction Lab


Greg Walsh, Allison Druin, Mona Leigh

Guha, Beth Foss, Evan Golub, Leshell

Hatley, Beth Bonsignore, Quincy Brown,

Sonia Franckel

What is co-design?

Co-Design Related Research

• Cooperative Inquiry

(Druin 1999)

– Participatory Design methodology

– Children are partners in the design of technologies for children

• Techniques utilized

– Low tech prototyping with art supplies

– Modeling the new technologies

Other Co-Design Techniques

• Storyboarding

• BrainDraw

(Dray 1998)

• Comicboarding

(Moraveji 2007)

• Elaboration of prototypes results in the destruction of previous iterations.

Layered Elaboration

• Paper-based co-design technique

• Uses paper + washable markers + overhead transparencies + permanent markers

• Allows for iteration without the destruction of previous versions

Origins of Technique

• Designed storyboards for history game



• Previous experience with hesitation to

“destroy” another person’s work

• Added transparency overlay to allow for drawing without destroying

Layered Elaboration Design Process

Break into groups

Teams create paper-based prototypes

Everyone comes together to explain their designs

Layered Elaboration Design Process

Break into groups

Teams create paper-based prototypes

Teams elaborate on the designs transparent overlay is added

Explain designs

Example of Use

• Design a technology to help children learn about the environment while visiting the

White House, while at school or at home.


• Use physical activity to power devices in the house

• Must keep jumping or devices stop working

Initial Conclusions

• Works best when non-destructive design annotation, limited space, and evolutionary artifacts are requirements

• Layered Elaboration can support asynchronous design work

• Layered Elaboration can be used with little space

• Does not require costly resources

• Works well with screen-based projects

Prototype: Birth of DisCo

• Distributed Co-design

• How does LE need to be modified for geographically distributed co-design?

• What does a computer-based tool need to facilitate LE?

• What changes are needed to better achieve its goal?


• Flash/HTML/PHP-based

• Supports

– Asynchronous collaboration

– Geographical distribution

– Creative Freedom

Design Session Takeaways

• Undo Tool

• Better layer visualization

• More drawing tools

Prototype Conclusions

• Need to regulate who has control of the design

– Software locks

• Limitations of tool and needs of audience should not prohibit design

– New tools like voice recording

• Participants who know each other make good-fait efforts to elaborate

– Social networking features

Future Work

• Current Projects using Layered Elaboration

– Children’s Equitable Online Social Network (Club


– Educational Concert Experience for Carnegie Hall

– Educational Social Network for Weil Music


• Being adapted for designing mobile technologies

• Continuing online version


• Children of Kidsteam

• Supported by:

– University of Maryland’s College of

Information Studies (the iSchool)

– Carnegie Hall’s Weil Music Institute

– The U.S. National Park Service


Thank You!

Greg Walsh gwalsh@umd.edu


Twitter: gxwalsh

Previous Work

• Online-Collaborative


– Only real-time

• Distributed Co-Design

– Cooperative Inquiry -> Modified techniques

– Only paper-based/relied on mail