Mobile learning across the lifespan: Processing and learning information from mobile media technology in children, young adults, and older adults

With rapid technological innovation, the consumption of mobile digital media has become ubiquitous in the lives of people of all ages. As the favored platforms for digital content have rapidly switched to become portable, the impact of mobile media on learning and development has generated widespread public interest. This multidisciplinary research project aims to identify how users of different ages (preschoolers, college students, and older adults) process and comprehend information delivered on mobile devices. Using a head-mounted eye-tracking system, we assess learners’ visual attention during complex and dynamic mobile media viewing while viewers are in motion. Further, we examine individual difference factors such as baseline cognitive ability and media use in association with the processing and comprehension of mobile media content. Lastly, we use image analysis techniques to automate the processing of eye-tracking data and develop an open-access interactive graphical user interface to dynamically view and interpret a large number of eye and scene data files. This project focuses on examining how learners of different ages and characteristics process and comprehend information from mobile media technology, supporting opportunities for people of all ages to engage in learning.

This project has been made possible in part by a grant from Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. #icatmobilelearning

Collaborators: Benjamin D. Katz (Human Development and Family Science); Adrienne Holz Ivory (Communication); Gota Morota (Animal and Poultry Sciences)

Children’s Learning with Robots

Like quality interactions with human partners, learners benefit from meaningful interactions with technological sources throughout the course of development. A core aspect of humanlike robotics is that robots that closely resemble humans elicit positive emotions and support learning through naturalistic and socially adaptive exchanges with human learners. The goal of this project is to integrate experimental tests of the impact of interactive robots in learning, measures of individual correlates (technology use, robot and human face perception) of robot-mediated learning, and neuroimaging techniques to improve understanding of neural processes underlying developing children’s perception and learning with interactive robots.

Collaborators: Myounghoon Jeon (Mind Music Machine (tri-M) Lab; Industrial and Systems Engineering); Tae-Ho Lee (Affective Neurodynamics and Development (AND) Lab; Psychology)

Children’s and Adults’ Selective Learning from Human, Print, and Digital Information Sources

Technology has broadened the way we access information. We obtain information from a wide range of sources including human, print (book), and digital media (smartphone, tablet, laptop). This changing media landscape presents challenges to learners as they need to juggle information from various information sources. This problem is further complicated by the fact that often these sources provide conflicting information. When facing multiple sources providing different information, which source will learners choose to ask for information and learn from? The goal of the project is to provide a systematic understanding of how learners perceive different information sources and use that understanding to guide their future learning.

This project has been made possible in part by a grant from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS) at Virginia Tech.

Child Temperament and Early Screen Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended no TV or entertainment screen media for children under two years of age (AAP, 2016). Despite these concerns, infants and toddlers spend a considerable amount of their waking hours looking at screens. To address the discrepancy between the guideline and real-world practice, it is crucial to understand why parents allow their young children to use screen media. Guided by an ecological system’s perspective, the study aims to examine the role of parent stress in the link between child characteristics and screen time in infants and toddlers.

This project has been made possible in part by a grant from the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE) at Virginia Tech.

Collaborators: Cynthia Smith (Children’s Emotions Lab; Human Development and Family Science); Lucy Eunkyung Shin (Graduate Student; Human Development and Family Science)