Early Design of a Conversational AI Development Platform for Middle Schoolers
More young people are interacting with smart conversational agents such as Alexa and Google Assistant. These platforms are extensible, providing, in principle, a compelling opportunity for young users to create and tinker with their own conversational agents. However, to date the interfaces for conversational app development are adult-focused. This paper presents the early design process for AMBY (AI Made by You), which we are building to empower young learners to create their own conversational agents. We first conducted a contextual inquiry with 14 middle school students (aged 11-13) in an AI summer camp, followed by two other usability studies. The system design has been refined after each study. Key features of AMBY include a visual dialogue management panel, testing panel with a diverse avatar, and a voice input modality. AMBY is designed to serve as a pedagogically-robust resource for K-12 AI education and as an engaging and creative way for middle schoolers to explore AI.