News release: High Sheriff To Open New Computing Building. Local school children to demonstrate handwriting recognition technology

Media and Promotion Office (2004) News release: High Sheriff To Open New Computing Building. Local school children to demonstrate handwriting recognition technology. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

[thumbnail of Scan of paper copy]
PDF (Scan of paper copy) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.


Official URL:


Bryan Gray MBE, High Sheriff of Lancashire and Chairman of the North West
Development Agency, will officially open the University of Central Lancashire's
(UCLan's) new Computing and Technology building on Wednesday, 3 March at
I lam.
The £4.3 million building on Fylde Road is at the heart of the University campus,
opposite the Students' Union. It provides superb new facilities including eight new
spedalist computing laboratories and over 200 latest specification PCs.
And during a tour of the building the High Sheriff will meet pupils from All Saints
Hesketh-With- Becconsall CofE Primary School who have been taking part in a
ground-breaking research project which focuses on the usability of handwriting
recognition technology for children (case study included).
UCLan students will have plenty of opportunity to make use of the facilities in the
new building as they will be able to use it twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
A special swipe card system is in place which will keep the building secure at the
same time as giving students access.
Martin Brown, Head of the Department of Computing, says: ''This is a flagship
building which greatly enhances the teaching and research provision in computing
and technology. The new facilities and the open-all-hours policy are already making
a significant difference to students on our courses."
Students using the building study on a range of courses from web/multin1edia design
and software engineering to media technology and electronic engineering. A phase 2
extension of the building ill currently under construction and will be completed by the
Summer of 2004.
Notes To Editor
A photo opportunity of children from All Saints Hesketh-with-Becconsall CofE
Primary School demonstrating the CobWeb handwriting recognition software to
Bryan Gray, Chairman of the North West Development Agency, and UCLan Vice
Chancellor Dr Malcolm McVicar will take place at 10.45am on Wednesday, 3 March
in the new Computing and Technology building, located on Fylde Road.
*Handwriting Recognition For Text Entry Research Project- Case Study
'CobWeb' i..<; a prototype writing environment which enables children to write with a
special pen onto a tablet device (similar to a magic slate) which captures their writing
to the computer, displays it on the screen, and then allows the handwriting to be
turned into computer text.
Leader of the project is researcher and Senior Lecturer Janet Read who works within
the University's Child Computer Int'eraction (ChiCI) Group**. Her motivation for
undertaking this research stemmed from watching children struggle to master the
QUERTY keyboard.
''I'm carrying out the research amongst children in the 6- 9 year old age range," It' s a
time when children traditionally make great strides in improving their verbal and
written communication skills. However this process can sometimes be hampered by
the additional task of learning to use a computer keyboard.
"Keyboarding takes time and children can easily loose the thread of their story as they
search for a letter; in addition, the breaking up of words into letters appears to cause
anxiety about spelling."
Janet's research has identified key usability problems for children using handwriting
recognition technology. These were drawn from a range of studies using local school
children and this work has been used to inform the design of the prototype writing
environment (CobWeb).
Children fmd the CobWeb system easy to use and easy to learn. They are tolerant of
the errors that the recognition software makes and the high visibility of the text
encourages discussion. There is research evidence that good spelling is related to
kinaesthetic memory (memory of hand movements in the actual writing process). This
is supported by the handwriting recognition software but unsupported in keyboard
input devices.
**The Child Computer Interaction (ChiCI) ( Group is well est ablished
as an innovative research team based in the Department of Computing at the
University of Central Lancashire. In its short history, the group has become
internationally known, and has es tabli..<;hed itself as a leader in its field.
The group is primarily concerned with research relating to the design and evaluation
of interactive artefacts for children. Themes include interface design, novel interaction
technologies, usability testing, evaluation paradigms, and educational applications.
The group recently hosted the 2003 International Interaction Design and Children
Conference (IDC2003). In recent years, the Human Computer Interaction community
has begun to take a more active interest in the design and evaluation of technology for
child users. Growth areas include the study of play and the support of teachers and
parents in their use and selection of interactive products.

Repository Staff Only: item control page