University of Abertay hosts HCI conference

University of Abertay hosts HCI conference

By Ed Fear

April 24th 2009 at 3:46PM

Delegates from across the world converge on Dundee to discuss learning through play

The University of Abertay Dundee has welcomed experts from across the globe to explore the usage of games as education tools.

Over 40 experts from countries as diverse as Australia, Lithuania and Norway have converged at the event to discuss teaching through play, and play through teaching.

The conference was organised by Dr Colin Cartwright and Dr Jacqui Archibald, who lecture in Abertay’s School of Computing and Creative Technologies.

“Key opportunities for people to learn about and interact with their world come through play," said Dr. Cartwright.

"When children play with blocks, they stack them, knock them over, sort them by colour, and they learn through playing. When people learn new software on a computer, they lose this tangible interface, but learn to use a keyboard and mouse with representations of real world objects (folders, desk-tops, photo albums, etc).  HCI is concerned with developing better interfaces to the virtual world that mimic the tangible benefits of physical artefacts, and creating effective opportunities to play and to learn through play in both the real and virtual worlds is the goal of this conference."

The conference is also exploring how Universities can cooperate with research and teaching initatives to push forward ideas. Professor Lachlan MacKinnon, programme chair for the conference, added: "We will be discussing the development of new interfaces and software tools to open up the computer for wider and more innovative use, moving away from the constraints imposed by the keyboard and the mouse."

“Many exciting projects are already under way with this technology, allowing people to connect to their computer to fabric, skin, lights, instruments, fruit, and every other imaginable physical tangible object. However, we are also concerned to ensure the widest possible access to these projects, developing interfaces to ensure that the inexperienced, those with different levels of abilities, the fearful, and the experienced computer users can all benefit from these technological developments."