Subscribe to Verizon Wireless: http://po.st/qyZodD Verizon is working with Makers.com and the Verizon Foundation to #InspireHerMind and encourage more girls ... (#STEM jobs have 300% growth yet only 10% of parents encourage girls to try engineering.
Coding is a big deal right now. Worldwide, 36 million kids have taken part in “Hour of code” activities, helping them become active, rather than passive users of technology and starting learning that might one day help secure a ...
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Many of you have asked for an update on the shipping schedule. Here are the bad news: the book is going to be delayed.
How much? I don’t know yet exactly. I’ve been working on a deal with a publisher to handle the printing and distribution of the book, which would allow me to focus on the thing I do best: expand Ruby’s universe. These things are gigantic, slow, not unlike glaciers but as soon as I have details, I’ll let you know. I know this is very disappointing to you all and I’m very sorry. (Especially because I know many of you have birthdays and other special events planned for the little receiver of the book - if this is the case, drop me a line!)
The silver lining is that not having to worry about the printing and shipping I have tons more time to create exercises and additional content for you guys. The first of which is the Build Your First Computer exercise. I’d love to involve all of you in the testing and make this a community wide exercise in creativity and computing. How exactly? Scroll down to read more, (but in essence you need a printer, a pair of scissors, scotch tape and an eager kid).
Hugs from Helsinki,
First I have to warn you. Playtesting might be the best thing I’ve gotten to do in this project. It’s just too much fun. Here’s some background on the playtesting session we organised last weekend as well as the materials for you to organise your own session.
The aim of this session was to observe how kids approached building a paper computer, what kind of questions they had and how engaging they found the process. Sounds very scientific, but mostly this was a very fun, relaxed play session of active make-believe and curiosity.
One important thing: kids are among the most efficient learners in the world, so be prepared to look up together answers for their questions!
What: Build your own computer session
For who: Kids between 4 and 11
How long: At least 30 minutes
Printables: Print out the following materials: Computer and Playtesting session instructions and user journey map. Download the materials from here:http://bit.ly/my-first-computer ;
How I can help: Send me your observations, notes and photos of the exercise through this form: http://bit.ly/firstcomputerplaytesting. It all helps in creating a curriculum around the computer.
What we did
We started by reaching out to parents we knew and asked them to spread the word about the upcoming session. In the end we had 4 groups of around 4 participants: both girls and boys, from ages 4 to 11. (Say hi to research coordinators Lotta, Jeminaand Mikael!)
The structure of the session was pretty free form, as we just wanted to see kids playing with the computers and engaging. The parents were given a task too: they were to observe the kids and mark their notes into the user journey map.
How to run the session
The sessions started with an open-ended discussion around computers. It was important to let the kids do the speaking and assure them that there were no right or wrong answers. The topics we talked about included:
What are computers?
Where can one find computers? Who uses computers?
What can you do with computers?
What are your favorite games/apps/websites?
We also opened up a real computer and looked inside. I had printed out pictures of a car, a dog, a grocery aisle and a toilet. We talked about whether these products had computers inside them. And what would happen, if they one day had computers.
After the discussion all the kids got their own computer print. We started by cutting out the big case as well as the components and finding the place where they belong. After all, you need all the components in place to make the computer work!
We also shortly discussed the role of each component: the bossy CPU, the helpful RAM, the Hard Disk that remembers your summer photos or the game levels you’re on, the GPU that tells the screen what to show and the ROM who is in charge of waking up each component once the computer is turned on.
The second big exercise is to design an app or a website. You can help the kid by proposing they draw a game they know, a shop for a product they love or a movie watching app. With some of the kids we talked about files: how if you put a video file under the Hard Drive it will be there even after you close the computer and how the virus-bomb-file might mess up your whole computer.
Finally, the kids got to decorate their own computers and design additional items. We saw some pretty great mouse designs, USB ports and a few power chords!
What we learned (so far)
One of the big things was realizing that most of the younger kids hadn’t even used a keyboard before. They didn’t necessarily realise an iPad was a computer. Computers were associated with work: little girls imagined using the paper computer as a part of playing house and dad/mom going to work. One of the kids, a young boy, had a great story of how he plays astronaut with his father and how the computer could be a part of that.
Lots of kids made games on their computer and could remember in striking detail everything that is involved in a gaming UI. Another thing the kids were really good at designing were computer extensions like power chords.
Overall, our observations were highly positive; The kids stayed engaged and concentrated for the full 45 minute session - some of them would have kept on going even longer. The questions they asked were perceptive and contextual.
In the next backer update, I’ll share how these lessons learned translated into product development.
How can you help?
If you do this exercise, keep note of all the questions the kid asks, what interests them and what are the speedbumps. I’d love to see pictures of the finished computers! Again, submit your pictures and notes here: http://bit.ly/firstcomputerplaytesting
The research will be used as a part of the product research and development for additional exercises and content for the parent/educator.
Here’s a list of resources I found helpful when planning the testing session:
First Contact: Playtesting with Preschoolers. Sago Sago’s CEO shares his lessons learned
Three ways to improve user testing with kids. Especially helpful for setting up continuous testing.
Building a rapport with kids for user testing. For practical instructions on how to interact with kids
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Cammie Dunaway's insight:
It takes awhile to watch but anyone who is interested in 8-11 years olds in the US will find it time well spent.
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