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How Far is UP: Social Interaction over Mobile Content

By

  • Betty Sargeant
  • RMIT University

Description

How Far is UP is an interactive children’s book app for audiences aged four and above. It combines fact and fiction, teaching children about distance and space through storytelling. How Far is UP entertains and educates.

I am an independent developer who is currently being funded by RMIT University.

The How Far is UP app has been internationally recognised as being aesthetically alluring, functionally reliable and easy to use. It has also been internationally recognised as a design that fosters intergenerational social bonding and child literacy development. It is an engaging, educational story that adults and children can enjoy together.

Key Features

1

Social interaction over mobile content:
When adults read alongside children it assists in the development of child social and literary skills. Yet book apps are commonly designed for a single child user; audio narration is used in lieu of adults reading aloud.
The audio narration in How Far is UP does not repeat the written text. Preliterate children can understand this app whilst alone, yet they can increase their understandings by reading it alongside adults.
The app is designed to appeal to intergenerational audiences. It addresses the problem of adults not being included as active children’s book app users.

2

Supporting child literacy:
Increasing numbers of children access their literature from digital devices and via apps. This is leading to concerns around child literacy. Cognitive science studies show that when audio narration repeats written text the text becomes redundant. Users watch the animation, listen to the audio and ignore the text.
The How Far Is UP audio narration does not repeat the text. The text is not redundant; it is designed as an active component.
There is a need for children’s mobile content that supports literacy development. How Far is UP is designed to address this issue.

3

Transformation:
Kirkus Book Reviews describes this app as ‘an alluring exploration of the word “far,” its meaning and its mystery.’
Graeme Base, multi-award winning children’s book app developer and industry leader, states that: How Far is UP ‘makes a simple observation (regarding the relative perception of distance) and a deeper point (touching on our open-ended relationship with the cosmos) and does so economically and with definite charm’.
Investment in this app has led to an increase in my profile as a developer and recognition for RMIT. This product is noted as having functional and aesthetic appeal across international markets.

4

Impact:
As a result of this app design, I was given membership to ‘Know What’s Inside’ (Moms with Apps). This company promotes industry best practices in relation to children’s online protection and U.S. COPPA legislation. Relevant issue involve children’s apps providing access to social networking, in-app purchasing and advertising. How Far is UP does not contain any of these features nor do I collect, store or share user data. These issues are proving increasingly important, particularly for teachers and parents.
Membership with KNOW provides me with a market edge; I have formal recognition that my practices represent highest industry standards.

5

Innovation:
How Far is UP presents an original design concept that enhances intergenerational user experiences.
A depth of trans-disciplinary research, including children’s literature, cognitive science and interaction design studies, informed the making process. This app demonstrates how text, images and audio can attract and maintain children’s attention and how children can work alongside adults to decode deeper meanings from narratives.
This product sets new standards in book app design. How Far is UP is noted for having broad appeal. The design is achieving excellent industry and academic peer reviews and was selected for inclusion in the CHI2014 Interactivity exhibition, Toronto.

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