ARL paper for DIS 2018 (Hong Kong) was awarded a BEST PAPER award

Words Become Worlds: The LIT ROOM, a Literacy Support Tool at Room-Scale

George J. Schafer, Susan King Fullerton, Ian Walker, Amith Vijaykumar Clemson University, Clemson SC, USA
Keith Evan Green Cornell University Cornell, NY, USA


Illiteracy is a global problem impacting the growth and development of individuals and society. Studies indicate that picturebook reading within a facilitated storytime setting is an important tool for children’s language acquisition. In the research reported here, we hypothesized that literacy, in an increasingly digital society, can be cultivated in a robot-embedded environment that is physical, digital and evocative of the picturebook being read. Words become worlds. To test our hypothesis, we designed, prototyped, and implemented the LIT ROOM, a cyber-physical room for literacy. As a Research through Design [RtD] exemplar for interactive systems at habitable scale, the LIT ROOM featured a multi-phase, iterative process of design and evaluation for usability and efficacy. Evaluations with 35 children and 6 librarians in a public library serving a population with grave literacy challenges suggest that our reconfigurable learning environment facilitates a diversity of children’s literary responses during the dialogical reading of picturebooks.