On the Effects of a Nomadic Multisensory Solution for Children’s Playful Learning

– Thank you for the
introduction and good afternoon. I am Julia, and I’m a Master’s
student of Communication Design and I’m going to present you Ahu. That is a nomadic multisensory
solution for children playful learning. First I want to say
thanks to our Ph.D. tutor, Miko Gehesmini that followed
us during the whole project. We worked together in IT
lab that is a laboratory of Politecnico in Milan. and we do research in various
domains such as learning, and in particular for children
with different abilities. This is why we start our
project focusing on design for all process. We wanted our project to
be usable to every people of our target, and it can be
people with different needs and different abilities. This is why we focus our target
on primary school children and on an Italian public
school system that included neuro-diverse children. Our starting point is play. These demonstrate that play
promote cognitive, emotional, and physical abilities. And in particular for
children with special needs, it’s an opportunity to acquire new skills in different areas. Playing is influenced by
several factors as indicators. One, it can be parents or
psychologists or therapists. The object or the toy with
whom they play during their activities. The children abilities; so the
skills that they use during the playing activities. And the final one is the
external factor that are independent to the other ones. Motion- based activities
engage children naturally, and (inaudible) demonstrate
they promote and acceleration of process learning through
sensory information. So it’s important to give
the opportunity to all the children to have a sensory experience. And in order to do that, we
tried to understand what system already exists. And we discovered that there
are multisensory environments and multisensory platforms. The multisensory
environments more immersive but they are movable. Snoezolen focused on multisensory therapy. Mediate is an (inaudible)
space with interactive surface. Magic Room has several
(inaudible) objects connected and focus on neuro-diverse children. And Blue Room is (inaudible)
with the sensory technology. On the other side, the platforms
are less immersive than the environments one,
but they aren’t movable. So for example, part of Aurora
is they all feel around, but no multimedia contents. The other ones have only one projection, so a very distinctive area
in which children can play. So we want our product Ahu to be movable as the platforms, but more immersive. That’s why we build
Ahu with two projection fields, that promotes collaboration
and competition between children that can play in
two different fields with two different teams. We developed also sound effect
and light effect in order to promote the reward and the
immersivity of the system. For do that, we used
investigative research methods, and we collaborate with 34
teachers from four different primary schools and psychologists
from two care centers. In particular, we asked them
to answer a questionnaire in order to understand
their technology aptitude that includes the situation
of the schools or the center. And also, what is the best
focus areas for the activities that we are going to develop for them. Then we did focus groups,
to let them understand what projection technologies are for real. The first set of contents
that we already developed, in the initial prototype of Ahu. And following these methods
and the design guidelines, we started to design the
internal structure of Ahu, that is made by Vuden. In the bottom part you can see wheels, and accessible compartment
which you can find lights, controlled by Phillips U-Bridge. The whole system is
controlled by two mini PC. And you can find the Microsoft
connect and the projector on each side. The top part of the structure
is easily removable, so you can access the whole
component of the structure. The external structure
is made by PVC layer, covered by an adhesive blackboard in which children can draw. But there is a little part
without the adhesive blackboard in order to see the LED
strip in the internal part controlled by (inaudible) we developed our activity with unity apps, connected to KINECT wrapper from AGTTP. And in particular we developed
two types of activity. One is (loud background noise) sorry that is the competitive one. So the children are divided in two groups, in two different fields, and the Ahu will tell them a story. And in order to go on with the
story they have to interact with the floor, so jump in
the right solution to go on in the story. And with the LED strip, the quality is not so
good on the projector, with the LED strip of Ahu
they can see they score points during the activity. The second activity is Colorful, it is a collaborative activity. The children are divided into groups. The first one see images on
the floor with a specific color and they have to tell to the other groups what color they see. The other groups with you go
lights to search the right color around the field, positioning in precisely
the position on the floor. We conduct an exploratory
study with 200 children of one primary school and two pre-schools, and we (inaudible) So first we introduct Ahu to the children as totem poles of an Indian tribe. So in order to create a sort
of magician experience to them. Then we ask them to draw on
the interface in order to familiarize with it. After that, they start
to play the activities, and finally we ask them
to evaluate the experience with Ahu. The questionnaire are
divided in several sections, and as you can see most of the
children like Ahu very much. In particular, for the voice
that engage a lot because is a human voice, an emotional voice. For the lights effect that
they may see during the game, the fact that they have
to listen to a story and work in group. This is an important factors
because they love to work together and they collaborate each other; in fact a lot of them ask
if they can bring Ahu home to play with their family
or with their friends. And after that, we collect
data from video and we asked two psychologists to find
the key points to the affect that Ahu has on the children. In particular, I’m not going
to explain it all in detail. But it’s evident in the
drawing that the children are enjoying the activity. We noticed also that the more
competent one, (inaudible), and also the fact that
they play the same time for the same goal gives us all
a sort of association and collaboration and
socialization between them. There are all several
effects on the teacher. In particular, they are engaged
too during the activity. And they encourage
children and motivated them when they have some problems
or they cannot do some task. And they have very important
rule during the activity of regulation, that the
children have to respect during the game. And after some month, the teacher
asked the children to draw the experience with us, and it’s clear that they
remember the experience. They draw Ahu in a very good way. But we are planning to do
another study in order to measure the resonance and remembrance. So if they remember an
activity they enjoyed, and also if they want to play
again is a pleasant activity. In conclusion, this is our
starting point exploring the potential of a multisensory
system in a classroom. And in particular we notice
a sort of diverse inclusion, so the children with disability
are included spontaneously during the activities, and this is I think a good
starting point for school system with these new
technologies for include all the people in a classroom. So thank you, and I’m here for question. (applause) – [Moderator] Any
questions for our speaker? – [Man] Hi, Etzee from Nuitech. This is really cool work;
I really enjoyed seeing it. And I was wondering just a
little bit more about the story that you told about the totem
pole and something like that, can you tell me a little bit
about you’re trying to make the technology a little bit more familiar, but what impact did telling
the story have for how the children ended up playing? Did you try any times where
you didn’t tell the story and did they interact with
it differently as a result? – Yeah, because the Magic
Room, the one the state of the arts is made by us in the classroom, and we noticed that telling
a story around the playing activities that can also be
disconnect to playing activities gives a sort of motivation. So Ahu as a totem, he’s
a totem of a tribe, and they feel like part of it. – [Man] Also it gives them
a role, in addition to telling them about what the Ahu is, okay. Very cool. Yeah, I love the idea of the
story, because I love the idea of making it familiar and they
have a role to play from the context of the story. Very cool, thank you. – Thank you. – [Moderator] Any other questions? I have one last question. What was the teacher’s reaction
to introducing the system? Were they in general positive
to adding more technology to the classroom? And did they see that as a
positive for the children, or did they see that adding
more technology might be detrimental to the children? – In general, Italian school
system is very slow in this field, but I saw a
positive approach of it, because in particular the
younger ones know the potential of the technology and want
to experiment more because of every people has different
abilities and maybe read the text is not the best
one to learn something. So use the movement and use
the other part of the body can help a lot of children in that field. – [Moderator] Thank you so much. – Thank you. – [Moderator] Let’s give
it again for our speaker. (applause)

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