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The Digital Sandbox: Playful Information Interaction

Fascinating concept: digital sandboxes for interacting with a library’s primary sources.

Lisa Norberg discusses the importance of students working with primary sources to develop critical thinking skills in studying history. She cites the difficulties of connecting students with said sources — primarily because of their perceptions regarding access to the material.

I even suggested that we help faculty build digital sandboxes in the backyards of their course pages. These sandboxes would be filled with an array of engaging primary materials and tools that would enable students to explore, to discover, to play. My playful argument was based on a growing body of research that indicates that students need the opportunity to connect with primary sources on a cognitive and emotional level in order to assess their meaning and put them into historical context.

Norberg proposes the idea of a digital sandbox for playfully interacting with primary sources. In her comment she is speaking of a web interface and may not necessarily be suggesting a true sandbox-like interface (possibly using the word sandbox more generally).

No matter the case, she’s struck on something great here. It seems to me that this interaction model is an interesting one to flesh out for creatively exploring, assembling, and correlating information sources in the form of a physical sandbox. Playing in a sandbox and working with information share a number of interactions: sifting, digging, piling, doodling, etc.

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