Plot

Opportunity:

Teaching narrative and sequencing as part of literacy is a huge part of primary school education. Increasingly, teachers are relying on digital resources to teach these important skills. E-learning resources have proven incredibly powerful in delivering deep content as well as the benefits of personalised and adaptive learning – i.e., allowing children to learn at their own pace and feel rewarded by marking specific milestones. Yet these resources isolate children’s learning as they are confined to screens and lack physical and collaborative components deemed so important when learning new skills. It is no surprise that learning is most successful in collaborative environments which are also physically stimulating. How might we bring the depth and richness of digital learning together with physical and collaborative learning when teaching literacy?

Solution:

PLOT is an educational toolkit designed for 7 and 8 year old primary schoolers to develop synthesis, sequencing and narrative skills through storytelling. It ties digital and physical learning together. The board is used to record and playback voiceover on “story tiles” – children can draw on these or use pictograms provided in the toolkit. Children record story bits on these tiles by taking turns and then sequence the tiles on the board. At the same time they constantly play the story back to hear how it sounds and decide whether it logically makes sense. The PLOT app complements this process by guiding and prompting collaborative storytelling.

Plot has three modes. In create, students can make any story they want using the physical interface. The app offers them editing tools to layer the story with audio and pictures. Play mode offers various games like words or icons that need to be used in a story. These can be added by the teacher. PlotTube is the Plot community which allows students to publish and archive their stories. They can hear and/or watch each other’s stories, bring it to their editing environment and modify them in any way they want – e.g., giving each others’ stories a different ending for instance.

Impact:

Plot is the result of an iterative design process carried out in collaboration with 7 and 8 year old students. Earlier prototypes focused on integrating the findings from co-creation sessions run with children, doing various storytelling exercises. The final iteration is the culmination of all these findings, made into a fully working prototype.

Plot is highly impactful in children’s learning because of the constant auditory feedback mechanism it provides. Children listen to the story bits they recorded over and over again and iteratively improve on their narrative, grammar and construction without a teacher being present in the session. By dividing the story into manageable information bits, Plot also enables students to understand the basic structure of a story (beginning, middle and end) and modify it on-the-go in a collaborative manner.

The validation sessions have shown that the tool can foster other skills beyond literacy – such as turn-taking, effective communication and collaboration which are deemed vital for 21st century learners. As the world becomes more and more complex, education technology will also have to offer children novel ways of learning and manipulating information to come up with creative solutions.

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