Sunday, March 24, 2013

Developing Ipad apps for Early Childhood Classrooms

DD+D was invited back, this month, to Columbia College's Visual Presentation class to deliver our Design Empathy workshop. The workshop was held at the Steelcase show room at the Mart.
The design brief for the project required the student designers to create  Ipad apps, and Ibooks for early childhood education teachers. Our goal was to help the student designers to empathize with the needs of all stakeholders including; teachers, young students. We created personas and acted out scenarios to understand the client's needs.

Here is the design brief, breakdown of project activities, and student designer feedback on DD+D session....

DESIGN BRIEF: developing Ipad apps for early childhood classrooms

New opportunities are constantly opening up in the various educational environments as digital technology and new media platforms emerge. In colleges and universities we’ve been using virtual classroom tools (blackboard, skype, basecamp, google docs, etc.) for more than 10 years to deliver material to students both synchronously and asynchronously. In elementary, secondary, and high school many of these tools are also used. However in the early childhood environment where children are learning very rapidly to do so many things from manipulating physical puzzles to developing crucial social skills, technology has not been as vital or necessary.

With the increase and growing sophistication of mobile technology, earlier access by more and more children, although certainly not all, and genuine curiosity with the devices and the apps/games they afford, we are witnessing a paradigm shift of technology down into the pre-school, kindergarten and early elementary school years. This simple phenomenon when combined with the emergence of intuitive authoring tools like Ibooks author and InDesign allow for educators to develop teaching tools for the ipad that augment established books and other support materials. The process can be fast and the results can be tested and refined right in the classroom.

As product designers we are trained to be generalists and to explore emerging opportunities like these through direct observation, interviews, and primary research posted on line or in journals.  In this project we will be collaborating with Early Childhood Education students to develop teaching scenarios for their classrooms. We will be using many of the visualization skills from previous assignments as well as new ones to develop scenarios that will lead to storyboards of interaction, and finally tasks/games that can be quickly built and tested on an ipad using ibooks author. The project will involve several stages and require interaction/collaboration with the Early Childhood Education students led by professor Mary Quest. Because the respective courses do not occur at the same time the groups will be communicating as much as possible through a range of cloud-based collaborative tools.

Task 1:                      Setup collaborative space
Task 2:                      Review video documentation of student teaching (before 3.18.13)
Milestone 1:               Develop initial scenarios around a range of topics for review
Task 3:                      Get feedback from student teachers
Task 4:                      Bodystorming workshop withh DD+D
Milestone 2:               Create storyboards to define either existing problems or opportunities
Task 5:                      Transform storyboards into videos as communication tool (upload)
Task 6:                      Get feedback and refine scenarios.
Milestone 3:               Develop concepts for testing using ibooks author and ipads.

Student designers' feedback
"It was nice working in groups and coming up with personas and scenarios to put ourselves in other people's shoes."
"It helped get us to visualize the process of research. Also, really getting involved with it creates a better understanding.
"Exploring where the teachers and students are coming from and experiencing was a great way to do research."
"The workshop helps encourage all to step out of their own mind and into an empathetic state."
"It was informative yet entertaining and engaging."
"A great work environment to work and learn"
"Today's session was very effective. Empathy can be difficult. It was very helpful to learn some theatre tools to help."
"It was great to warm up and take on the empathy challenges. Stand up,sit down, moves my mind also body."