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2008 Publications

Journal Publications


Mentz, J., Kotzé, P., Van der Merwe, A. 2008. Searching for the Technology in University of Technology. South African Computer Journal, Vol 42, December 2008, p. 29 - 37.

Higher education in South Africa has been the scene for dramatic changes during the last fourteen years of the new democracy. The cleanly divided domains and roles of higher education institutions made way for a chaotic situation that was eventually resolved by the creation of three different kinds of universities. Universities of technology as previously vocational training institutions gained academic legitimacy with the title of university and the right to deliver postgraduate outputs. The problem that arises out of this new order is the claim that technology defines the uniqueness of a university of technology. The public image of the five universities of technology in South Africa is analysed in order to validate this claim.


Van Biljon, J. and Kotzé P. 2008. Cultural Factors in a Mobile Phone Adoption and Usage Model. Journal of Universal Computer Science, Vol 14, No. 16, p. 2560 – 2679.

In human-computer interaction and computing, mobile phone usage is mostly addressed from a feature-driven perspective, i.e. which features do a certain user group use, and/or a usability perspective, i.e. how do they interact with these features. Although the feature driven and usability focus carry value, it is not the full picture. There is also an alternative or wider perspective: mobile phone use is influenced by demographic, social, cultural, and contextual factors that complicate the understanding of mobile phone usage. Drawing on concepts and models from sociology, computer-supported cooperative work, human-computer interaction and marketing, we researched the influence of culture on mobile phone adoption using interviews and two surveys. The contribution of this research is a model that includes culture as one of the factors that influence mobile phone adoption and usage. The proposed model represents  the influence of mediating factors and determining factors on actual mobile phone use. The proposed model has been evaluated from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective.


Kotzé, P., Renaud, K. and Van Biljon, J. 2008. Don’t do this – Pitfalls in using anti-patterns in teaching human-computer interaction principles. Computers & Education, 50 (2008) 979–1008; DOI:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.10.003.

This paper explores the use of design patterns and anti-patterns in teaching human–computer interaction principles. Patterns are increasingly popular and are seen as an efficient knowledge transfer mechanism in many fields, including software development in the field of software engineering, and more recently in the field of human–computer interaction. In software engineering a concerted effort is also being made to identify and document anti-patterns for recording the experiences of expert software developers to caution novices against potential bad practices. It is, however, essential that we ensure compatibility with the learner’s internal knowledge representation and acquisition processes, whether we are attempting to convey the knowledge in the form of a pattern or an anti-pattern. Since teaching with anti-patterns implies using negation, the primary aim of the research reported in this paper is to explore the efficacy of negative, rather than positive, teaching mechanisms. Evidence from theories of mental modelling and knowledge acquisition that highlight significant dangers in the use of anti-patterns to teach novices human–computer interaction principles is presented and supported with empirical findings. We started off by investigating the use of patterns (positive) in teaching, and then carried out experiments to test the use of anti-patterns (negative) in teaching HCI principles. This paper, whilst reporting mainly on our findings with respect to HCI design anti-patterns, will also identify some problems with the structure and use of patterns and anti-patterns in pedagogy.


Kotzé, P. and Renaud, K. 2008. Do We Practise What We Preach in Formulating Our Design and Development Methods?, Lecture Notes in Computer Science LNCS 4940, edited by G van der Veer, Springer: Berlin, p. 566 - 585.

It is important, for our credibility as user interface designers and educators, that we practice what we preach. Many system designers and programmers remain sceptical about the need for user-centred design. To win them over, we need to be absolutely clear about what they need to do. We, as a community, propose many different methods to support naïve designers so that they will design and implement user-centred systems. One of the most popular methods is HCI design patterns – captured and formulated by experts for the sole purpose of transferring knowledge to novices. In this paper we investigate the usability of these patterns, using both theoretical and experimental analysis, and conclude that they are not usable. Hence, unfortunately, we have to conclude that we don't practice what we preach. We conclude the paper by making some suggestions about how we can address this situation. You can find a draft version of this paper here.


Conference Publications

Greeff, M, Kotzé P. 2008. I am Part of Society, but Still an Individual: A Case Study about Challenges Faced by Individuals with Mobility Impairments. In Proceedings of Accessible Design in the Digital World: new media; new technologies; new users. University of York.

This paper reports on our experiences, problems and lessons learned in designing an adaptable web portal that is specifically aimed at people with a variety of disabilities and an initial usability evaluation of the portal. We highlight the fact that designing a system that is usable by people with various disabilities, and various severities of a specific disability, is not a trivial task. Each person with a disability has his/her own way of interacting with ICT devices and even prefers to use different assistive devices, depending on their computer literacy level and the severity of their disability. Although the portal was evaluated by participants with a variety of disabilities, this paper focuses only on the participants with comparable mobility impairments, to illustrate that even within a fairly homogenous group, no ‘universal design’ was possible.


Gelderblom, H; Kotzé P. 2008. Designing Technology for Young Children:  What we can Learn from Theories of Cognitive Development. Proceedings of SAICSIT 2008. ACM Conference Proceedings Series, ISBN 978-1-60558-286-3, p. 66 - 75.

The majority of guidelines and principles for design of technology are aimed at products for adults. The limited guidelines available for design of young children’s technology do not focus sufficiently on age-related requirements or they offer high-level advice that is only useful in the planning stages of design. This paper reports on research aiming to develop a set of guidelines for the design of technology for children aged five to eight years. We believe that the existing knowledge base on child development provides an ample starting point for setting up a useful framework of such guidelines. This paper demonstrates how the knowledge contained in psychological theories of child development can be translated into guidelines for the design of technology. Another version of the paper is available here.


Van Biljon, J; Kotzé P; Renaud, K. 2008. Mobile Phone Usage of Young Adults: The Impact of Motivational Factors. In: Proceedings of the Conference of the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group (CHISIG) of Australia on Computer-Human Interaction , edited  by Frank Vetere, Connor Graham & Christine Satchell, CHISIG.ISBN 0-9803063-4-5,  p. 57 to 64.

To increase marketability in a competitive and technologically evolving market designers are compelled to add new features to mobile phones. This often leads to ‘featuritis’ with hit-and-miss success rates. Our research goal is to find a more informed point of departure for feature addition activities that will improve design and maximise return on investment. We argue that a human motivational factor focus could provide a solid grounding for judging whether features are likely to be used, or not. In this paper we address the motivational factors that underlie mobile phone use by young adults aged between 18 and 30. We consider models for motivational factors from psychology and consumer science, as well as mobile phone usage space models, including the mobile phone usage space model (MUSM). MUSM proposes linking usage spaces to motivational factors, but does not explicitly investigate the mapping of features to the identified usage spaces. In this paper we investigate the features associated with individual MUSM usage spaces as well as the ranking of the usage spaces for our specific target group. Another version of the paper is availbel here.


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