The University of Sussex

Improving children's understanding of formalisms through interacting with multimedia

Yvonne Rogers, Mike Scaife, Frances Aldrich, Sara Price

IMM (Interactive Multimedia) has the potential to facilitate learning by providing new means of interacting with information, offering learners the ability to explore ideas and concepts that they find difficult to understand when represented in traditional media (e.g. diagrams and text in books). To know how to capitalise on this, however, requires understanding how IMM works. In this paper we describe our Cognitive Interactivity framework that outlines the benefits and properties of IMM. To support our assumptions we developed and empirically tested a software prototype for teaching children how to use foodweb diagrams to reason about the dynamic behaviour of ecosystems. Findings suggest that IMM can be developed to help children understand better how to use formalisms as computational aids with which to reason about a complex system.

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