DigiPal: Cross-Cultural & Interlingual Mobile Interaction for Children

Lamichhane, Dev Raj (2022) DigiPal: Cross-Cultural & Interlingual Mobile Interaction for Children. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Digital ID: http://doi.org/10.17030/uclan.thesis.00047986


This thesis contributes research and analysis towards, and the design and development of, a Digital Pen pal application (DigiPal) for children from two different countries and languages. Children from a developed and a developing country came together and participated in multiple studies for the design of the app with their ideas and input both matching and differing. Feedback and thoughts provided by them contributed to the design of the app and towards a generalised model for similar applications.

DigiPal required a translation system to be integrated into the App so that the children could talk in their own language which not only makes sure they can talk confidently, but also contributes to preserve local languages. Google translate was the option which was used in this case following a study that assured its effectiveness. Accuracy was relatively low but higher levels of Understandability gave some hope to advocate the possibility of use of Google translate as a translator and most importantly as a facilitator of cross-cultural chat.

A real time letter exchange activity, with children from Nepal and England was conducted. In a deep analysis of text entry errors and their impact on translation, and on other translation errors and their possible causes, findings show why and where Google translate struggled. However, children’s reaction to the translated letters, as well as analysis that shows how improving text entry correctness can support the translation software, shows that regardless of some error children could communicate and they enjoyed the activity overall.

This work also contributes insights for design that are needed beyond translation to create an engaging and culturally level experience. Two separate studies were conducted to gather some culturally influenced attributes from the children. In one, children drew pictures to introduce themselves whereas in the second one they drew pictures of games they would like to have in an application like DigiPal.

The thesis concludes with a generalisable model that can be used by other app developers to consider how to create culturally level products for children from different countries and with different languages.

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