Skewer in Seoul (SiS): Measurement of Blind Children's Executive Function Using Mobile Learning Games


Skewer in Seoul (SiS) is a version of the computerized Tower of London task that was modified to measure executive function in blind children. This study aims to explore mobile game design possibilities for blind and visually-impaired children. More specifically SiS looks at designing critical thinking games for blind youth.

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The Game

In this game, players have a barbecue party and receive orders from customers. Their task is to rearrange pieces of food on three skewers based on customers’ orders. Pieces of shrimp, chicken, and lamb have to be moved from a particular start position on the three skewers to a goal position, within a certain number of moves. The three skewers are of unequal height: the left skewer can hold up to three pieces of food, the middle skewer can hold up to two pieces, and the right skewer can only hold one piece. If a skewer holds more than one piece of food, only the uppermost piece can be moved. Only one piece of food can be moved at a time.

Adaptation for blind children

Audio instructions from the device describe to the players both the start and goal positions. For example, the device would sound, “Start position: The left skewer holds two pieces of food - chicken and shrimp. The chicken is at the bottom, and the shrimp is on the chicken. The middle skewer holds a piece of lamb at the bottom. The right skewer holds nothing” and then “Goal position: The left skewer holds nothing. The middle skewer holds two pieces - lamb and chicken. The lamb is at the bottom, and the chicken is on the lamb. The right skewer holds a shrimp.”

Button Functions

The Left arrow is used to select the uppermost food on the left skewer, the Up arrow for the middle skewer, and the Right arrow for the right skewer. Pressing Enter confirms the selected food and the Down arrow repeats the audio explanation of the goal position. Players can restart the current task by pressing the ‘Grape’ button. The ‘Banana’ button is used to abort the current task and go to the next one. Finally, pressing the Apple button repeats the general audio instructions.

The Study

TeacherMate devices were given to participants at the beginning of the session so that they could explore them and become familiar with the interface. Simple questions such as “How many buttons can you find on your device?” were asked of participants to get feedback.

Blind students in a rural school in India exploring TeacherMate

After the warm up activity, the study began. Participants were guided by the built-in audio instructions from the TeacherMate devices on how to operate them. After receiving these guidelines, participants started to play with the game.
Different contextualized versions of the SiS game were developed and implemented in different settings, in order to better suit the culture and language of the participants and to create a more authentic problem-based scenario for them. First version of SIS was developed using different shapes and colors and pilot tested with blind children in Malaysia. Based on their suggestions, the elements were revised to shrimp, lamb, and chicken to use a less abstract concept. Meat items have been replaced with fruits and flowersin order to contextualize the original Tower of London and SiS games for use in India.

Blind participants playing with critical thinking game

Interviews were conducted at the end of the study to collect participants’ feedback and investigate new ways to improve the study.
We found that blind children tend to collaborate with each other to solve more complicated problems when playing SiS. After they completed the basic level task and understood the game concept, the collaboration began. Blind children seemed to greatly enjoy playing the game.

Future Plans

• Develop multi-lingual versions of SiS
• Conduct more studies on narrated instruction design for blind and visually-impaired indivuals
• Test this audio game with children from varied socioeconomic backgrounds
• Design similar audio-based games in different areas (i.e. science, math, & literacy)
• Conduct a study on collaborative and participatory learning among blind participants
• Conduct user interface and tactile experience studies
• Conduct study on blind participants’ cognitive intelligence, ability and development

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Publications and Reports


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Faculty Staff Staff

Dr. Paul, Kim
Arafeh Karimi
Donggil Song

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"Skewer in Seoul (SiS): Measurement of Blind Children's Executive Function Using Mobile Learning Game" is the subproject of POMI in Education.