Evaluating a cross-cultural children's online book community: Lessons learned for sociability, usability, and cultural exchange

Anita Komlodi, Weimin Hou, Jenny Preece, Allison Druin, Evan Golub, Jade Alburo, Sabrina Liao, Aaron Elkiss, Philip Resnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)


The use of computers for human-to-human communication among adults has been studied for many years, but using computer technology to enable children from all over the world to talk to each other has rarely been discussed by researchers. The goal of our research is to fill this gap and explore the design and evaluation of children's cross-language online communities via a case study of the International Children's Digital Library Communities (ICDLCommunities). This project supports the development of communities for children (ages 7-11) that form around the International Digital Children's Library (ICDL) book collection. In this community the children can learn about each others' cultures and make friends even if they do not speak the same language. They can also read and create stories and ask and answer questions about these. From this evaluation study we learned that: (i) children are very interested in their counterparts in other countries and a remarkable amount of communication takes place even when they do not share a common language; (ii) representing their identity online in many different forms is particularly important to children when communicating in an online community; (iii) children enjoy drawing but representing stories in a sequence of diagrams is challenging and needs support; and (iv) asking and answering questions without language is possible using graphical templates. In this paper we present our findings and make recommendations for designing children's cross-cultural online communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-511
Number of pages18
JournalInteracting with Computers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • Children
  • Cross-cultural
  • Evaluation and design
  • International Children's Digital Library
  • Online communities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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