Creating visual tools for learning through design
'Sparks' for 21st-century skills is a generative design research-driven project aimed at creating playful learning experiences for children through design; and tools for the same, for use by facilitators.
The project was done in collaboration with an upcoming children's museum in Mumbai which aims for engagement and learning through experiences that are led by children, largely collaborative, and take inspiration from the community around us.
The project started out with exploring how design thinking can be introduced to children to encourage a problem-solving attitude but evolved into using the design process as a tool to frame learning experiences to develop 21st-century skills in children.
WHO AM I DESIGNING FOR?
Children in the age group of 8 to 14 years
will be the key audience for programs in the museum and will include children from a typical ICSE, CBSE, SSC, or IB school in the city.
The programs designed should cater to children from different socio-economic backgrounds and with varied learning experiences, etc
As children are our core audience parents, teachers and many factors around them will play a huge role in deciding who is going to space.
WHY GENERATIVE DESIGN RESEARCH?
The process follows a generative research model to see learning as a process from a child’s perspective and work with them to create what meaningful learning experiences could look like.
Taking from MuSo Pillars, we felt a need to bring in the voices of the children in our design process to do complete justice to the vision MuSo intends to stand for — to create meaningful learning experiences for children. The people we design for have a lot of intangible insights and background context to offer that may get overlooked when designing for a project of such a scale.
This project explores the role of the human-centered and participatory approach of design to develop tools and methods to build 21st-century skills in children.
-What are the 21st Century skills and what approaches have been taken to inculcate these skills in learning practices?
-How can the design-led way of thinking be introduced to children through different tools and methods?
-How can learning experiences be designed for better engagement and student-focused learning process?
-In informal settings of learning who are the core stakeholders to be considered and how do they ensure the long-term impact of the experience?
The exploratory phase started from the learning experiences of the children today and how an informal space be used to fill the gaps we face presently in terms of learning.
It further moved towards research on engagement methods and play driven learning and converged towards insights from the process about how to innovate for learning. It set the stage for further generative stage.
The generative phase of the project included working with the user, children, and embodying the role of a program maker and facilitator.
This phase was research-intensive and involved a series of workshops with children to test for engagement and learning value. The workshops were conducted in three phases - Conduct, Immerse, and Create which depict the progression of the process from research to prototyping.
Get an insight into how Sparks (short duration) programs can be used to build 21st Century Skills in children through design-led tools and methods.
THE CHILDREN'S PANEL
We created a panel of 20 children from different backgrounds who met with us every month for testing of different experiences and programs that contributed to the overall design process. These children, in the age group of 10–13 years came from different schools and socio-economic backgrounds in Mumbai, thus bringing in different perspectives and representative groups of the target audience for the Museum.
The panels were conducted as a series of experience and learning-driven workshops which were designed to nudge the children to react to the material presented and actively be engaged in critical feedback and development of it.
CONDUCT + IMMERSE : PARTICIPATORY SESSIONS
read in-depth about the participatory process
Consolidating understanding from the research and analysis phase in a format which can be used to frame sparks programs - prototypes ahead. Through the insights from the process,
this section focused on putting forward a thorough understanding of what makes a spark program, bringing together various factors associated with making a program.
Create stage consists of combining the learning from previous 2 stages and developing and conducting Sparks programs as prototypes. The stage traces the journey of how a facilitator will go through this process.
CREATE 1: PEOPLE OF MITHI
People of Mithi was developed as a spark program as apart of a Children's panel walking through the story of the Mithi river in Mumbai.
It is a 6 player board game where each player assumes the role of a stakeholder and works collaboratively to solve problems affecting the Mithi river.
This journey included testing the learning goals of the exhibits in the gallery through prototypes of the same followed by a sparks program which would focus on building up on learning through the exhibits - why was it important and what did children take away from those?
Click here to see the People of Mithi game in detail
CREATE 2: HOW WOULD YOUR CITY TRAVEL?
-The transport Game was developed as a part of a panel around Future Cities which encouraged children to think about the future of their city.
The Sparks station let children get and the idea of how a transport system can be laid down for a city.
Through a choice based quiz and collaborative build game, children walk through a multitude of transport options available to us, yet what choices we make and why, and what impact they have on the city in a longer duration
The Evaluate phase of the process pieced together the learnings from the entire process to consolidate the research and process of working/co-development with children into a tangible output to be referred to.
The idea was to put the research in a format that can be applied and tested by Museum of Solutions in the coming months of the project and can form a basis for how learning can happen through programs to suit the needs.
DESIGN BEYOND THE DESIGNER
how can the process and research help future facilitators? how can we create a format on which they can build on?
THE SPARKIT TOOLKIT
Sparkit is a toolkit for facilitators( designers, educators, young volunteers, etc) which used design mindset at its core to develop sparks programs focusing on building 21st-century skills in children.
The toolkit is a starting point for the facilitator in navigating through the messy process of creating and conducting workshops with children and encourages them to put their spin on it.
This project delves into how the inquisitive, creative minds of children can be supported to be the change-makers of today. It is a work in progress project wherein the toolkit and tools developed could be adapted and refined ahead by designers, and facilitators as the program development goes ahead.