DO CHILDREN TELL PROPER STORIES? – INFORMING THE DESIGN OF A TECHNOLOGICAL TOOL TO SUPPORT STORYTELLING
This paper describes an interactive multimedia application designed to support the construction of stories by 8 to 10 years old children – Curucucu©, Conto eu ou contas tu? – as well as the study conducted to inform the design of the application. We start with a brief incursion into the conceptual framework of the study, demonstrating the fundamental role that narrative plays in human life and the importance of the development of adequate narrative skills and arguing that these skills, along with general communication and expression skills, are still crucial in the technological world in which we live: children’s capacity to express their ideas and needs successfully, in multiple ways and for multiple audiences integrate an essential part of what is called multimodal literacies (Ferrão Tavares & Barbeiro, 2008). The paper proceeds with a description of how the study was designed, according to what is suggested by Hanna et al. (1999) for Human-Computer Interaction researches, namely how we sought to understand the activities to be technologically supported, how we considered the children’s prior knowledge, skills and expectations and how the technological tool was conceived, prototyped and validated, following a learner-centered (Soloway, Guzdial & Hay, 1994) and iterative approach (Hanna et al., 1999; Preece, Rogers & Sharp, 2002). For this purpose, we first present how the study addressed the processes of structuring and the structure of stories told by primary education children and the morphological approach adopted, grounded on Vladimir Propp’s (1992) theory and model, also demonstrating their adequacy, since they have already been used in other studies with related research goals (Rodari, 1996; Carlsson, 1999; Charles, 2006) and also as the basis for modeling technological storytelling tools (Prada, Machado & Paiva, 2000; Hammond, 2011). We then clarify the nature of the adopted methodologies and how the empirical studies were conducted, allowing children to adopt the role of storytellers and informants, offering us the corpus and the contents for the morphological and content analysis. After presenting the main results of the empirical studies, from which we were able to sketch and extract general guidelines for conceiving the storytelling tool, we briefly describe the prototyping process, emphasizing the ways children and primary education teachers, as well as other informants (in the quality of experts), were integrated at specific times in the process, as suggested by the Informant Design approach proposed by Scaife & Rogers (1999). Finally, we present the storytelling application prototyped and the main results of the validation tests with real users, concluding with some final considerations and suggestions for future studies.