Facilitating Classroom Learning Through Hobbies & Interests

Spring 2012

This project involved our team studying ways in which we could use information about kids interests and hobbies to create a lifelong learning system that would help them develop their interests academically, introduce them to new interests, and bridge those to possible career paths. Drawing from preliminary research from authors interested in the relationship between technology and children’s learning, and through a combination of exploratory research methods, we identified a communication gap between parents, kids and teachers, where not enough agency and scaffolding was being given to children in molding their own learning, and kids were learning a lot of useful information through their hobbies but not paying enough attention to subjects in the classroom.

Observing kids at the Children’s Museum.

After synthesizing all of our exploratory research data, we found that one possible way to facilitate classroom learning and raise the level of interest in school subjects was to design a way to bridge those subjects to children’s hobbies – some of the kids that we interviewed had actually expressed that the subjects that they were most interested in were the subjects related to their interests outside of school. After conducting a series of generative exercises designed to get the kids to tell us how they would like to be taught and what kinds of media they used in different contexts.

Getting the kids to teach!
Getting the kids to teach!

In the end, we designed and developed a multi-faceted online solution that would allow:

  • kids to log in, add their interests and hobbies to the system, and get help regarding how their different school subjects related to those, build their ‘interest trees’ by connecting school projects that they were engaged in to the system and facilitating problem solving by building a database of personal references, and collaborate over common school projects, allowing them to help each other through shared interests;
  • allow teachers to get a sense of the distribution of their class’s interests and aid in planning classroom projects;
  • parents and kids to have more informed conversations about interests and career goals.
The login page.
The login page.
Interest trees.
Interest trees.
Viewing answers to ongoing questions and projects.
Viewing answers to ongoing questions and projects.
Collaborating with peers and teachers.
Collaborating with peers and teachers.
Interaction Design & Programming by Ahmed Ansari
User Research by Ahmed Ansari, Anna Von Reden, Alison Servis & Judy Brooks
Content Development by Anna von Reden & Alison Servis
Project Management by Judy Brooks

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