PuppyIR will conduct state-of-the-art research. The research will make use of the latest research and technology in information access. However, PuppyIR will not simply adapt existing solutions to cater for children. The proposed information services will be designed, developed, implemented and evaluated based on the true understanding of the needs and behaviours of children. To achieve these aims, the project will contribute to the progress beyond the state-of-the-art, focusing on the following four angles:
Interface and interaction design
There are differences in how children interact with search engines that can be exploited to provide “child-aware” search systems. The response by search engine developers to children’s design needs is often to simplify content, to add visual content or to simplify the interaction to a few basic interactions. This approach sees children as simple versions of adults rather than responding to the specific needs of children as searchers. That is why PuppyIR will work on the investigation and promotion of new interaction paradigms for children’s access systems to create interface and interaction design.
Information services for children
A good Information Retrieval system should ”grow” with children, giving more support for younger children and allowing older children to take more control as their confidence and experience increases. A number of interrelated research questions will be addressed that contribute to the interaction of children with information services. The focus will be on presentation, mining and language issues for the appropriate development of these information services.
Open Source software development
There are many existing open source toolkits and frameworks for constructing Information Retrieval systems. These toolkits are generated for adult content but we require different search technology for children. Modifying these toolkits for children’s information retrieval systems is not a simple matter of changing indexing and retrieval algorithms. What is required are additional Information Services.
An Open Source Framework will be created to support the development of common interchangeable components to support the realization of information services for children.
User-centred and system-centred evaluation
The current evaluation approaches used by Information Retrieval are not sufficient for evaluating children’s search systems. So, in terms of evaluation, the aim is the identification of appropriate evaluation measures and development of an evaluation framework for information services for children.