This week in our lecture we will be exploring the relationship between learning, children, and technology. In the seminar session this week we will be working with industry expert and digital producer Antonio Gould.

Antonio Gould: Specialist in digital product design and strategy with a focus on education and technology. Amongst other things I lead on BAFTA nominated Teach Your Monster to Read, which has now helped over a million children learn to read, is growing year on year and is now financially sustainable. I have 18 years’ experience delivering a wide range of projects across web, mobile, social, games and software for brands, broadcasters, and charities.

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I take a lean, service design-based approach to all my work, helping organisations to deliver better digital products often at far lower costs. This includes: Leading the design process – using a mix of service design, lean approaches and data analysis, project definition and budgeting, recruiting teams, growth and marketing.

Teach Your Monster To Read:

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 17.43.20.pngThis Weeks Reading: Computer as Mudpie – Seymour Papert

Although this weeks reading is not relevant to our Amnesty project, we have included some short notes to show our attentiveness on learning about a variety of areas linked to Interaction Design.

In this short excerpt, Papert describes working alongside a psychiatrist who observed children in the first stages of their learning. He found that children learn things that are a part of living and embedded into the natural environment of a child.

For example, one does not teach a child to claps hands for fun. The clapping of hands originates from the child’s desires. Class room curriculum is imposed onto the child, which may be why some struggle more than others. To combat this, Papert believes that natural learning must be increased.

Papert refers to the computer as ‘mudpie’ whereby computers could be used to fill the gaps between the child’s natural learning, similar to the education system. Computers are a natural symptom of human technological evolution and should be utilised in the learning environment. More so, Papert believes that children should have free access to computers.

To learn Euclidean geometry, you must get it ‘into your body and think about it’. Using the computer as a tool distances itself from the externalised experience found in the theory of pen to paper classroom practises. Papert made this especially clear by explaining a turtle game whereby the child must program it’s mathematical movements in order to draw shapes. This allows the child to think about the mathematics logically and learn the technicalities through their own trial and error. The child naturally teaches themselves through initiative and logic, as oppose to practising meaningless diagrams with no retention of what was learned afterwards.

To use the computer as a cultural agent coming into the life of a child is a smart way of increasing their learning capabilities alongside formal education. As a consequence, Papert explains that the relationship between the learner and subject matter being learned will inevitably change.

To conclude, children will learn naturally from partaking in an activity that captures their desire to fulfil that gets them using natural logic and initiative practise. Therefore, if a designer is looking to educate a child in the form of an interactive toy, the designer should be aware that a) the child must initially desire interaction with the toy, b) the toy must test their logic and initiative skills, c) the toy must not under or overestimate the child’s capabilities in order to maintain engagements without frustration or boredom, and d) the toy must allow the child to repeat activity in order to practise trial and error.