(workshop cancelled at IDC, will be re-organzied in Fall 2023)

For more information and news about events on Researchers' toolbox for the future, please see here.

Research in Child-Computer Interaction (CCI) is focused on cultivating, nurturing, and nudging children towards technology use and design. Recently, ethical aspects related to technology have come to the forefront, including the inherent limitations of technology, particularly related to Artificial intelligence (AI). Further, AI has a known diversity problem where age-inclusion can be sometimes forgotten. While various global and national policy frameworks on Children and AI are being developed, the approaches are child-centered but not child-led, restricting children from affecting their own digital futures. Further still, there is little discussion with children on the limitations, inherent biases, and lack of diversity in current design and development of AI. As AI evolves to mimic human-like cognition, emotions, conversations, and decision-making, its impact on children and their futures should be critically examined for, with, and by children. With this in mind, we invite participants and children to critically examine together the challenges towards AI in this IDC 2021 workshop, using design fiction where all participants consider and reimagine alternative technology presents and futures. This workshop contributes to the ongoing work on Children and AI by including children as equal partners and empowering them to consider present and future challenges as experts of their own lives, with diverse interests, backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.

Researchers’ Toolbox for the Future is an ongoing series of workshops focused on developing methods and best practices working on children’s technological futures. The first workshop was held in IDC 2020 with a focus on designing the future of technology with and for children and the second one at NordiCHI 2020 with an emphasis on empowering children to shape their future. The workshop series has been positively received by its participants who are usually PhD students or early-stage researchers looking to work on future oriented methods with their child-user groups. The workshops introduce a variety of hands-on methods with discussions on participants’ research agendas and how their methodology could support future orientation. From the IDC2020 and NordiCHI 2020 workshops, a special issue on ‘Designing the Future of Technology with and for Children’ for the INTERACT Publication series with revised position papers was published in Dec 2020. This workshop is the third in the series of the Researchers’ Toolbox for the Future (for and with children) and the first to invite child-participants to one of the sessions. Participants are invited to submit their papers possibily to a special issue of IJCCI.

Workshop structure

Session #1 (90 mins) Session #2 (90 mins)

Introduction to the workshop (20 mins) and participant introductions (20 mins)

Group activity #1 – where are we now and how did we get here (30 mins)

Introduction to future orientation methods (20 mins)

Group activity # 2 (45 mins) – codesign session with child and adult participants

Group discussion (30 mins)

Workshop wrap-up (20 mins)

Call for Participation

In this half-day workshop, we invite participants to critically examine challenges towards AI using design fiction. We encourage participants to recruit children, their own, or asking other parents or schools to engage children with consent to participate. Child-participants are invited for one co-design session that takes about one hour and information and details on the activity are provided by the workshop organizers. Researchers without interested child-participants are also invited to participate and will be teamed up together (adult-only group) for the co-design session.

If interested, please submit a short position paper (in the new ACM template, between 2-4 pages, as a .docx file) with the following:

  • author names and affiliations,
  • whether you have child-participant(s) they plan to invite to the workshop’s co-design session,
  • a short description of your research interests, driving values and motivations, goals, and your vision for the future of their own research,
  • a short mention of how your work addresses the workshop topic,
  • a short paragraph on your own vision and goals for ethical AI for and with children and how do you see that it would be possible to reach that vision? For instance, considering who are the actors whose actions are needed for the vision to come true and how it is possible to measure that the vision comes true?
  • Optionally, you can also provide an overview of a study, project, or research paper that you are most proud of.

Submission details coming in Fall 2021.


Dr. Sumita Sharma is a post-doc researcher at the INTERACT research group at the University of Oulu. Her research work focuses on designing inclusive and collaborative technology for the classroom environment for children across the world, including children living in urban slums, children with special needs, and children in remote communities. She is also interested in understanding the socio-cultural barriers towards empowerment of children.

Dr. Marianne Kinnula is an Associate Professor of human-centred design and digitalization in INTERACT Research Unit in University of Oulu. Her research focus is on sustainable development and use of technology at different levels: individual, organizational and society level. School as an organization and children’s technology use are close to her heart: what is children’s genuine possibility to affect the decisions that concern them as well as their technology-rich environment.

Dr. Netta Iivari is a Professor in Information Systems and research unit leader of INTERACT Research Unit in University of Oulu. She has background in Cultural Anthropology as well as in Information Systems and Human Computer Interaction. Her long-lasting research interest concerns understanding and strengthening people's participation in shaping and making their digital futures. Her research has focused on empowerment of children in and through design and Making. Her research is strongly influenced by interpretive and critical research traditions. Currently, she is examining critical design and Making in collaboration of children.

Dr. Leena Ventä-Olkkonen is a post-doc researcher at the INTERACT research group at the University of Oulu. Her current research interests concern on empowerment of children and people in the risk of social exclusion through design and Making. Her research has focused on participatory and critical design and making with children and understanding children’s digitalized everyday life and practices.

Dr. Jussi Okkonen is an Associate Professor of socio-technical environments in Faculty of Information Technologies and Communication Sciences at Tampere University, Finland. The key topic in his research work is performance and productivity in knowledge work. Due to digitalization of work environments Okkonen has put more emphasis on extended, augmented, asynchronic and spatially dispersed work and humans in digital environments. The underlying theme still is the individual and organizational performance connected to information ergonomics. Other research topics are digital learning environments, HCI and software engineering.

Dr. Sirkku Kotilainen is professor of media education at the Faculty of Information Technologies and Communication Sciences at Tampere University, Finland. Her research focuses on children and youth as users online, their digital literacies and media education among children and youth. More recently, her research has focused on promoting media education among at- risk youth and, methodological developments in co- research with young people as empirical experts in their uses of online media.

Dr. Nitin Sawhney is Professor of Practice in the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University. As a human-centered design researcher he examines the critical role of technology, civic media, and urban interventions in crisis and contested spaces. He engages user experience design, participatory action research, sensory ethnography, and multi-modal (speech/audio) approaches for complex contexts of human-machine interaction. He has been conducting research at the intersection of AI and HCI for real-time news as well as humanitarian and crisis situations. Nitin has conducted digital storytelling initiatives with Palestinian youth in refugee camps, and established the Engage Media Lab to support participatory media, research and civic agency among marginalized youth. Nitin is an associate editor for the International Journal of Child Computer Interaction. He co-chaired the International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC) in 2013 at The New School.