During our research, we realized that gamification is a powerful tool to motivate children to learn. Especially in schools for children with special needs, it is essential to get the pupils’ attention with interactive learning methods.
Our approach is to teach pupils in a playful and interactive way, so that the children stay focused on a task and get the opportunity to work together in small groups. This way, they can help each other to solve problems and improve their social skills. The main idea of our concept is that the children succeed together as a group. Besides that, the teacher can adapt the difficulty level of tasks if necessary. This should help to minimize the frustration level in case a task cannot be solved by a group.
Every task is visualized as an in game 2D boss. When all groups have solved their individual tasks, the boss is defeated, and they level up. This encourages cooperative working and reduces competitive thinking, as all groups have to succeed to defeat the boss. There is not a necessary amount of people to form a group, so the group building is up to every teacher and technically, every group could also consist of only one pupil. In this case, teachers could let every child work on their own tasks and maximize individualization, but the boss is still only defeated when all children solve their tasks. Another helpful feature is that teachers can create tasks and share them with other teachers to simplify their work process.
We think that our learning app is an innovative and helpful way to improve pupils’ and teachers’ everyday life.
Through our on-site observations and interviews in schools we got valuable insights about the needs regarding digitalization and how well digital media is currently integrated into school.
In the following phase of Ideation we used methods like the Affinity Diagram to sort our observations, recognize underlying problems and generate and refine solutions. Our most prevalent questions were:
„How might we…
…make lessons more captivating and interactive so students don’t seek distraction?“
…allow teachers to let students use digital tools without the danger of abuse?“
…enable teachers to test the use of digital media in lesson preparation?“
Another valuable insight we got from teachers was that they don’t want to completely replace traditional teaching and learning methods by digital ones – for example, writing by hand on paper is still one of the most effective ways of learning. Rather do they aim at striking a balance between both, so what if you could just augment the traditional way and build on it?
Our solution: sCool Glasses. AR glasses for school classes.
Not only can they replace older technologies, they also make education more interactive and engaging. Difficult concepts like complex geometrical shapes can be shown in 3D. Content can be displayed either for everyone or individually for each student. Clearly the possibilities for applications are nearly endless. And because the glasses are lightweight and portable, teachers can take them home for lesson preparation.
Since the functionality is always limited to what’s needed for the current lesson, there is no danger of distraction for students as there would be on their smartphones.
The implementation of our concept will have to wait for AR glasses to be available as a reliably functional, mass-market product. We will then need to discuss funding, integration into schools and provisioning of content resources with the school ministry. But if our vision becomes true, we’re sure it will make school a lot more engaging.
Our final concept we developed is an augmented reality platform for music lessons in primary schools. It allows students to try a huge amount of instruments, without the need of the school to have them physically in the classroom. This enables the opportunity for students to try instruments even though the school never bought it.
All you need are augmented reality glasses, that fit on children’s heads and gloves for haptic feedback that are specially designed for that purpose. Wearing these glasses and gloves gives the ability to select an instrument and try it out. Every individual user can hear his instrument, or all instruments around him through bone conduction from the glasses. The gloves offer a high precision feedback to enable a real feeling of the selected instrument.
On the one hand there are the mentioned benefits of reduced costs, because one device can replace every instrument you can imagine, on the other hand the students can learn instruments in the same room with their classmates without disturbing them. If needed they can play together and form bands. This can be great fun and make music lessons more diversified.
Our next step would be to go to schools and evaluate what can be improved and if teachers are even interested in such product. When they are, we would concretize some core features based on that evaluation, build a prototype with higher fidelity and certainly take a look at the state of the art and at how we could realize such a visionary concept.
Schools nowadays face challenges that go beyond the daily routine in the classroom. One of these challenges is the increasing percentage of students with a migration background. These students often cannot understand German, thus cannot follow the class and sometimes account for up to 70% of all students in one school. Therefore it was important for us to offer a quick and easy to use solution, that one the one hand relieve the teachers and on the other hand help the foreign students to catch up with the learning matter.
Another challenge is new media. Schools have started to digitise their classrooms with whiteboards or tablets. During research, an often heard problem was, that while teachers are open towards new media, they feel like it is not used to its full potential and can sometimes still be distracting. Therefore we tried to avoid introducing additional screens to the classrooms.
With this knowledge in mind, we developed TransPen, the translation pen that can scann any text and simultaneously translate it into any desired language. The pen looks and feels like a normal pen, thus guaranteeing easy usage and is equipped with bluetooth connectivity and several buttons for volume adjusting and scanning purposes.
The benefits of TransPen are extensive. On the one hand it works without screen, thus making sure students do not get distracted when using it and on the other hand it makes use of audio output, which guarantees that even illiterate refugees can easily follow class without much effort.
“Should we acquaint our children with the digital world as early as possible or should we prevent them from accessing the digital world as long as we can in order to protect them from the danger they may encounter in the digital world?” This is the dilemma the teachers and parents have been facing in recent years. Our Robot Benjamin aims at tackling this problem by providing guidance in fields such as the use of search engine or of social media.
Based on the idea of the paper clip from old Windows software, Benjamin helps primary school pupils find their way through the world of digitization by using sensors to detect and intervene on time when the pupils are on critical ground in the network or public software. Its physical form makes it impossible to simply “click it away” like an annoying pop-up; instead, it should meet with appreciation and friendship among children. It gives constructive criticism, warnings and applause when the pupils have consciously made the right decisions and should thus also bond with the pupils on an emotional level.
With the overwhelming amount of new technology in recent years, many teachers can’t handle to teach their lessons and learn the interaction/dangers with the new media at once. This is where Benjamin comes in to help. With the voice interaction of Benjamin, he seamlessly integrates into the lessons, and pupils can easily ask him questions about the technology as well as he gives the children warnings about dangers without the teachers looking over their shoulders all the time. With Benjamin, teachers can finally focus on teaching again.
When asking teachers about the possibilities of e-learning some very distinct patterns appear in most of their answers: Yes, e-learning can generate great benefits! No, e-learning isn’t used to its full potential in the classroom right now. Subpar usage of e-learning methods will either create too big of a distraction for students or will not add any value compared to traditional lessons at all.
Our solution of an interactive cross-platform real time-updating lecture notes app aims to take this knowledge we gathered during our research and turn it into an intuitive, easy-to-use app that benefits both teachers and students at the same time by essentially cutting out all the unnecessary time consuming processes of traditional non-digital teaching and enhancing the less than ideal interactive part of current in-class e-learning methods.
It offers teachers a way to assemble their lecture notes from all sorts of different sources into one central place from where they synced with student devices. These digital lecture notes can be edited on the fly to add explanatory videos, GIFs, images, links and notes, essentially creating a script that the teacher can edit and adjust whenever and wherever and immediately show these changes on the whiteboard projection.
Our app offers vivid interaction for students as well allowing them to pose questions anonymously, give feedback, take notes and have a discussion about what’s thought both inside and outside of the classroom.
It further allows teachers to create interactive quizzes spontaneously to enhance class participation and engagement.
Additionally our app shows several statistics on quizzes and student participation in order to give teachers an insight as to what they can improve about their own lessons.
Through technology we aim to better the interaction between teachers and their students. We believe that through our solution we can strip traditional lessons of their weary one-sidedness and engage students while still maintaining the very important human aspect of learning that gets lost with over-digitalization.
Our future plans include building a working prototype and pitching to publishing companies in order to collaborate with them as well as to get the official support of the ministry of education at state level. We would then field test out methods in a classroom and ultimately strive for world domination.
EVA is a programming environment for every teacher, who is unable to find the right teaching materials for his or her lessons in the huge amount of materials available. The main goals are to let students write good tools for efficient learning, using the programmed tools for education, and to give the students an understanding of basic programming.
EVA is intuitive: First you select your target group, then your subject. With plugins from the ministry of education the correctness of the provided contents is guaranteed. Particular emphasis was given to intuitive usability allowing for easy access to the tool regardless of the user’s skill. The user can choose between a fully fledged IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for advanced users and sandbox mode in which younger and inexperienced pupils can arrange predefined blocks of code via drag and drop.
EVA has many benefits: The teacher is freed from the extensive research for teaching material and at the same time his classes’ content is guaranteed to comply with the guidelines from the ministry of education. Also, the classes will be more fascinating by interdisciplinary educational methods. That leads to more motivated students who can also actively take part in the arrangement of class. And of course the students learn how to program in a very early state.
For making EVA ready for the market there must be taken a few steps: First, the idea has to be refined. Then, there should be feasibility studies. After this, if there is a need for EVA, we can start a collaboration with different schools and the ministry of education, to bring EVA into schools.
What is it?
After two long weeks of arduous work on divergent and convergent thinking, precluded by field interviews with school teachers of different areas, Teaching Wiki is the resulting diamond in the rough. An e-learning meta platform, in the form of a [hybrid app oder cross-platform native app], it tackles the largest problem we identified in our research – teachers aren’t ready to be embassadors of digitalization yet.
How does it work?
Our platform offers courses and supplemental material tailored to the teacher’s knowledge, as well as to the digital technology at his disposal. Furthermore, it offers a forum service, similar to Reddit and StackOverflow, which is a safe place for discussions ranging from technical support to creative new teaching methods.
Through recent plans of the German Ministry of Education, like DigitalPakt [https://www.bmbf.de/de/sprung-nach-vorn-in-der-digitalen-bildung-3430.html], the task to implement the effective use of digital means at schools has been imposed on teacher’s that weren’t educated on such topics. Our platform would help prevent valuable state funds be effectively put to use.
A critical first step would be to attain support from the German Kultusministerium, as the platform’s content would be highly coupled each state’s teching program. On a similar note, support from the Ministry of Education would help legitimize its value. In the long run, we see an organic growth of the user base as critical, as much of the services rely on interactions between users.
In primary school, kids need to learn many basics, such as writing single letters, words or complete sentences. With increasing class size, it can be challenging for the teacher to help every kid separately without leaving others behind.
SmartDesk is a writing pad that supports children in those tasks individually, while also preserving the look-and-feel of real handwriting.
Instead of writing on the SmartDesk directly, it is placed underneath a sheet of paper. It recognizes writing on the paper, and thus can give instant feedback about typeface and spelling by projecting through the paper. Mistakes are marked locally, and if a child is stuck, the correct answer is given to trace it. New Elements can also be introduced by showing animations of e.g. a letter’s path which can then be traced by the children.
When the input fulfills the specified requirements, the children will be rewarded with a star. Collecting stars as a gamification element further motivates the children, and may relieve the teacher from correcting the children’s notebooks.
The teacher can also monitor the input of every SmartDesk in the room, which enables him/her to track each child’s progress and help specific children that need further support.
A major benefit of this approach is that, while the use of a digital medium enhances the learning process of individuals, the haptics of traditional handwriting are preserved.
The SmartDesk offers numerous possibilities. This showcase covers handwriting skills; other use cases might be a more interactive and visual approach to math and geometry lessons, animated elements, and more.
A next step might consist of building a functional prototype for usability studies. Additionally, concrete use cases of the SmartDesk need to be elaborated.
To supply all classrooms with SmartDesks once successful, financial support will be needed, either from the kultus ministry or from private investors.
Our final concept was named „TeacheRedo” which reflects the purpose of our tool: Teachers should be able to reuse an already prepared lesson unit from another teacher. Because of the great differences between various classes, the main idea of the concept is that a lesson shouldn’t be reused as it is, but its fragments. These fragments are recognized as parts of a puzzle. Every session in the tool starts with selecting the grade, the subject and the topic of the lesson. The next step is to design the template of the lesson. The Teacher can choose between several “puzzle parts” like an intro, an exercise or an experiment. This kind of designing leaves every opportunity of lesson arrangement to the teacher himself/herself. After choosing puzzle parts and arranging them in the desired order, the teacher can attach different files to every part. The available files include videos, documents, exercises, experimental approaches and other useful types of data. The available files are contained by a database, which is regularly complemented and updated by a community of teachers and other educationists. In the final step, the teacher can decide whether he/she want to print the required documents and save multimedia files on a memory stick or save all files or send them per email to be able to print it in school.
An additional purpose of the concept is obviously to stop redundant work and to bring teachers to work together more frequently. Successful lessons can be reused, or young teachers can learn from them. Less successful teaching units can be criticized and improved by other teachers. And maybe some older teachers could learn from the younger ones.
The next steps of this project would contain a research with our clickable prototype to determine the feedback of the potential users and a raw implementation of it for a test group to check if it would be useful in their daily work routine. Additional features would be a rate function with optional comments, a storage function to save complete lessons in the application to be able to reuse them.