3D design software is increasingly available to children through libraries, maker spaces, and for free on the web. This unprecedented availability has the potential to unleash children’s creativity in cutting edge domains, but is limited by the steep learning curve of the software. Unfortunately, there is little past work studying the breakdowns faced by children in this domain—most past work has focused on adults in professional settings. In this paper, we present a study of online learning resources and help-seeking strategies available to children starting out with 3D design software. We find that children face a range of challenges when trying to learn 3D design independently—tutorials present instructions at a granularity that leads to overlooked and incorrectly-performed actions, and online help-seeking is largely ineffective due to challenges with query formulation and evaluating found information. Based on our findings, we recommend design directions for next-generation help and learning systems tailored to children.
The Learning project aims to investigate advanced techniques for assisting users in learning complicated applications. We are interested in a range of investigations from the scientific study of the human learning process to prototyping novel interaction techniques for improving the general learning mechanisms that can be applied to all applications.