The Digital Companion Project (for KQED)
The KQED Digital Companion explores the design of a computer-mediated information- and knowledge-sharing space for an adult, out-of-school population. This space is embedded in a prototype for an interactive, digital iPad application serving as a companion to a general-population book entitled "The Science of Big Waves", written by Kerry Tremain. This will be the first in a series published by the University of California Press; each book will dovetail with the content of one televised Quest science program from KQED, the nation's largest public radio and television station.
Though there are many excellent mobile and web-based textbook and collaborative learning applications for in-school students, currently none address the unique concerns of our target population of adult, out-of-school readers. We believe we have started to fill that gap for this general readership.
What is new about this project is our research on what barriers hindered participation by this population, what reduced these barriers and increased motivation, and what features increased users' trust in others. We believe that should our work prove effective and easy to implement, it could provide a useful template for extending learning opportunities in a wide range of interactive mobile applications.
This work draws on computer-mediated communication (CMC) studies, user experience and interaction design, qualitative sociology, participatory media for education, and visual design, as investigated at the University of California School of Information and College of Environmental Design's Cal Design Lab.