Although I was a little afraid of Deliverable 2, it actually came together nicely. Dr. Sprenkle's approach in just reading technical papers until I came across a topic seemed a little daunting since there was no definite end, but it worked. Below I have added what I wrote in my deliverable about how I searched for these papers and eventually came across my topic.
Most of my papers that I have compiled so far did not come from a “search”, but rather from references within other papers. The first paper I read was entitle “Tangible Bits: Towards seamless interfaces between people, bits and atoms” and from there I had the idea to explore education with tangible interfaces as it seemed obvious to me to use physical objects to enhance education. I then did actually search “Tangible interfaces + Education” and the paper “Can Tangible Interfaces Enhance Education?” was the first hit in the ACM Digital Library. This paper was the jumping point for the rest of the papers as I just looked at their references to find other papers and this process continued until I compiled the list I have now.
The searching part was actually the easiest part. The ACM Digital Library makes it not only incredibly easy to search for papers, but also especially easy to jump from paper to paper by clicking on the references of each paper. What I found to be the hard part of finding a topic was reading the research paper in a different way. When I read the foundational papers, I read them with a critical eye mostly on application. I think it was hard for me to read these papers thinking about limitations because I knew they were so important in the HCI community and therefore found it hard to find flaws. Trying to find a topic using this method was difficult. I had to change my approach in reading these papers. Now, I needed to question each part of a study asking how it could be extended or what they missed out on.
My next problem in the reading the papers was that I would get a certain idea in my head that I just could not shake. While this approach could be a good thing since it would allow me to relate a topic to multiple papers, it ultimately caused me to miss other topics in my initial readings. Once I cleared my head and went back through the papers, the idea of collaborative learning using tangible interfaces in higher education just popped out. I knew I wanted to work with higher education and using these interfaces for collaborative learning seemed the most applicable approach as many of the other ideas were geared towards younger kids lack of motor skills.
I am very relieved to have decided on a topic. Now I will be able to focus my efforts, whereas before I sometimes felt very scattered. My next step will be to look at pyschology (and maybe sociology) papers to see how collaborative learning is effective in higher education. I may still need to try some other search terms in the ACM Digital Library and extend my HCI papers as well. Now, off to do ground-breaking research.