Facilitating Classroom Learning Through Hobbies & Personal Interests
We did this project as part of a brief from Microsoft where we had to identify a domain of human activity and think of the applications of making big data personal in that area. Our team chose to study 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.
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.
Synthesizing the insights from the workshop with the kids, we designed and developed a multi-faceted online solution, Lifted, 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.
Students would log into the platform with an ID, where they would then be given access to a personalized tree system (we used the metaphor of a tree literally) showing various school subjects as branches and extracurricular activities, discussions, collaborations, references and other things that kids did related to those subjects as leaves. By helping friends, participating in class, and adding more interesting links related to subjects that they enjoyed, students could get advice from the system related to growing their hobbies and later, on things like career guidance.
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