Collaborative & Interactive Children's ABC Media

With four large teams across two sections of my 15 week Interactive IV class, students were tasked with researching, designing, and producing conceptual and collaborative books and card sets both as physical and interactive media.

I created a website collects the efforts of the Fall 2019 class, with their goal of teaching young children topics like social identities, emotions, inclusion, and empowerment.

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A grid of photos. Students in a space on couches with a white board writing down ideas. Students holding up lettered cards, and a pile of books.
Students identifying their project scopes in the New Media Lab

Students worked together to troubleshoot their subject matter and what they would be creating. They were required to think of how to divvy up the content, and consider their own contribution. Each student was assigned three letters, or two letters and a cover.

Students reviewing their designs on a table
Students working on and reviewing designs

Collaborating and Contributing

Each week, they would present internally, iterate, and identify not only how the content was progressing, but also considering how content would vary across physical and digital media. They needed to design the visuals as well as think of the experience of interacting with the media considering their defined target audience. Each group had a target age range of children that they identified.

A video snippet of a group prototype
A book being held. The page says L is for language
L is for language book spread by Vanasa Liu

With a hard stop date for a final presentation, students had to consider how best to appropriate their time. Considering they needed to have either a print book or deck of cards produced, in addition to a working large scale interactive prototype, they also needed to develop a process deck of their work and proper documentation for this site.

a grid of photos showing the cover for an inclusion book, a spread for K is for knowledge, and a 3D rendering of a wasp
Some of the book spreads, and interactive layouts

The students had complete freedom in how they could address their content through visuals and interactions, which provided for a lot of experimentation and variety.

Process videos of the interactive prototypes

Making Collaborative Prototypes

In addition to making print artifacts, students had to consider how their content would exist as interactive media. Using new tools like Figma Design and Principle App, we built larger than life prototypes that contained rich interactions and were indistinguishable from finished tablet apps.

Liam Madigan's spider interaction

Students were able to leverage their skills in motion design, interaction design, systems design, 3D design, illustration, layout and typography. They were challenged with going outside of their comfort zone, which led to a menagerie of styles.

Students presenting, and an iPad with the prototype loaded being touched.
Students in their groups working & presenting

There were many moving parts to the project. Students had to consider how to build a working system, how to define parameters for their media, and how to work with 9 total cooks within a single kitchen. They were each accountable for their own portion of the outputs, their "contributions." But they were still responsible for communicating and assisting their group.

a grid of photos. A reviewer looking at an iPad. Another reviewer looking at an ipad and holding cards. cards and iPads on a table.
Presentation day reviewers & artifacts


Students loaded up their interactive functional interactive prototypes onto iPads, and brought their completed books and card sets. Each student presented their interactions and demonstrated their designs. I brought in an artist from the community as well as some colleagues to give feedback on the students' work.

A hand touching an iPad with the interactions
The symbiotic ABCs interactive prototype

Having a single robust working prototype for each group that students and reviewers could interact with and experience was a cornerstone of this project. They were made fully modular and entirely without code by pushing the available technology to its limits.

A grid of photos including students presenting, and reviewers looking through an iPad prototype.
Some shots from presentation day

Presentation day came with still a few weeks to spare for the remainder of the semester. I wanted the students to have the ability to have time to reflect, and document their work. So often students work right up to a final presentation, without taking the time to reflect on feedback and document their efforts with intention within the scope of the class.

User testing with young children
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Three Cards fanned out with the letters and digital illustrations of a human, sea urchin and sea cucumber on them.
Human, Sea Urchin, and Sea Cucumber Cards by Andrew Hurley