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  1. The role that technology plays in supporting children at school and at home is more prominent than ever before due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This has prompted us to focus the 6th International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Children \& Recommender and Information Retrieval Systems (KidRec) workshop on what the lasting changes will be to the design and development of child information retrieval systems. After two years, are information retrieval systems used more in and out of the classroom? Are they more interactive, more or less personalized? What is the impact on the research and business community? Are there long-termmore »and unexpected changes on the design, ethics, and algorithms? The primary goal of our workshop continues to be to build community by bringing together researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders from various backgrounds and disciplines to understand and advance information retrieval systems for children.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 27, 2023
  2. In this paper, we explore how children engage with search engine result pages (SERP) generated by a popular search API in response to their online inquiries. We do so to further understand children navigation behaviour. To accomplish this goal, we examine search logs produced as a result of children (ages 6 to 12), using metrics commonly used to operationalize engagement, including: position of clicks, time spent hovering, and the sequence of navigation on a SERP. We also investigate the potential connection between the text complexity of SERP snippets and engagement. Our findings verify that children engage more frequently with SERPmore »results in higher ranking positions, but that engagement does not decrease linearly as children navigate to lower ranking positions. They also reveal that children generally spend more time hovering on snippets with more complex readability levels (i.e., harder to read) than snippets on the lower end of the readability spectrum.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 27, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  4. Hagen, Matthias and (Ed.)
    Readability is a core component of information retrieval (IR) tools as the complexity of a resource directly affects its relevance: a resource is only of use if the user can comprehend it. Even so, the link between readability and IR is often overlooked. As a step towards advancing knowledge on the influence of readability on IR, we focus on Web search for children. We explore how traditional formulas–which are simple, efficient, and portable–fare when applied to estimating the readability of Web resources for children written in English. We then present a formula well-suited for readability estimation of child-friendly Web resources.more »Lastly, we empirically show that readability can sway children’s information access. Outcomes from this work reveal that: (i) for Web resources targeting children, a simple formula suffices as long as it considers contemporary terminology and audience requirements, and (ii) instead of turning to Flesch-Kincaid–a popular formula–the use of the “right” formula can shape Web search tools to best serve children. The work we present herein builds on three pillars: Audience, Application, and Expertise. It serves as a blueprint to place readability estimation methods that best apply to and inform IR applications serving varied audiences.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  5. Bicycle design has not changed for a long time, as they are well-crafted for those that possess the skills to ride, i.e., adults. Those learning to ride, however, often need additional support in the form of training wheels. Searching for information on the Web is much like riding a bicycle, where modern search engines (the bicycle) are optimized for general use and adult users, but lack the functionality to support non-traditional audiences and environments. In this thesis, we introduce a set of training wheels in the form of a learning to rank model as augmentation for standard search engines tomore »support classroom search activities for children (ages 6–11). This new model extends the known listwise learning to rank framework through the balancing of risk and reward. Doing so enables the model to prioritize Web resources of high educational alignment, appropriateness, and adequate readability by analyzing the URLs, snippets, and page titles of Web resources retrieved by a given mainstream search engine. Experiments including an ablation study and comparisons with existing baselines showcase the correctness of the proposed model. Outcomes of this work demonstrate the value of considering multiple perspectives inherent to the classroom setting, e.g., educational alignment, readability, and objectionability, when applied to the design of algorithms that can better support children's information discovery.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 18, 2022
  6. Research in the area of search engines for children remains in its infancy. Seminal works have studied how children use mainstream search engines, as well as how to design and evaluate custom search engines explicitly for children. These works, however, tend to take a one-size-fits-all view, treating children as a unit. Nevertheless, even at the same age, children are known to possess and exhibit different capabilities. These differences affect how children access and use search engines. To better serve children, in this vision paper, we spotlight accessibility and discuss why current research on children and search engines does not, butmore »should, focus on this significant matter.« less
  7. In this paper, we take a step towards understanding how to design search engine results pages (SERP) that encourage children’s engagement as they seek for online resources. For this, we conducted a participatory design session to enable us to elicit children’s preferences and determine what children (ages 6–12) find lacking in more traditional SERP. We learned that children want more dynamic means of navigating results and additional ways to interact with results via icons. We use these findings to inform the design of a new SERP interface, which we denoted CHIRP. To gauge the type of engagement that a SERPmore »incorporating interactive elements–CHIRP–can foster among children, we conducted a user study at a public school. Analysis of children’s interactions with CHIRP, in addition to responses to a post-task survey, reveals that adding additional interaction points results in a SERP interface that children prefer, but one that does not necessarily change engagement levels through clicks or time spent on SERP.« less
  8. Given the more widespread nature of natural language interfaces, it is increasingly important to understand who are accessing those interfaces, and how those interfaces are being used. In this paper, we explore spellchecking in the context of web search with children as the target audience. In particular, via a literature review we show that, while widely used, popular search tools are ill-designed for children. We then use spellcheckers as a case study to highlight the need for an interdisciplinary approach that brings together natural language processing, education, human-computer interaction to address a known information retrieval problem: query misspelling. We concludemore »that it is imperative that those for whom the interfaces are designed have a voice in the design process.« less
  9. In this paper, we present BiGBERT, a deep learning model that simultaneously examines URLs and snippets from web resources to determine their alignment with children's educational standards. Preliminary results inferred from ablation studies and comparison with baselines and state-of-the-art counterparts, reveal that leveraging domain knowledge to learn domain-aligned contextual nuances from limited input data leads to improved identification of educational web resources.
  10. Past and current research has typically focused on ensuring that search technology for the classroom serves children. In this paper, we argue for the need to broaden the research focus to include teachers and how search technology can aid them. In particular, we share how furnishing a behind-the-scenes portal for teachers can empower them by providing a window into the spelling, writing, and concept connection skills of their students.