Todays Stories (ESPRIT-i3-ESE Project No. 29312) develops an experimental school environment for young children (4 to 8 years old) that is aimed at the development of social, communicative and emotional skills in the context of everyday activities. The underlying ideas are, first, that children may learn from reflecting on their own or other children's activities and, second, that children may learn from other childrens perspectives on their own activities.
The project is developing wearable technology to document such different perspectives, as well as tangible interfaces to review and to manipulate these episodes. New pedagogical and ethical frameworks complement the technological results. The project advances in an ongoing process of co-design that involves the different stake holders in the development and deployment of the envisaged school environment.
The challenge of Todays Stories is to create a hyper-document which whole rooted in an original and personal episode, can acquire a detached, cartoon-like status, by editing and multi-media techniques augmented. In this way, the document can be related to another episode experienced by a different group of children.
The project brings together a balanced group of educational specialists, usability experts and technology providers to form a highly child- and pedagogy-driven project. Extended trials in school environments will be intertwined with the design and evaluation processes using participatory working methods throughout. For dedicated design purposes the project will also use the methods and services of the KidsLab working group which is developing a scheme dedicated to designing tools for and with children.
From the early phases of the project, results have been developed and applied around schools from two environments: Israeli schools (Ramat Hehayal and Ilanot school and four kindergartens in Israels central region) and a Danish school (Nr. Broby school). The Israeli and the Danish teams are committed to similar educational frameworks in order to facilitate dialogue, common research and comparisons. Apart from this, however, both teams - in terms of the development of their concrete didactic process and in terms of their respective environments - are independent from each other.
Figure: Today's Stories system overview
The different episodes that are captured by a collection of KidsCams thus consist of a 'hyper video', a collection of synchornised and interrelated perspectives. These are transferred wirelessly to an episode management system that takes care of storing them, and of keeping track of their relationships.
The Magic Mirror is the child friendly touch screen terminal through which children review their episodes. First, it allows them to collaboratively explore the video sequences that they captured. Subsequently they can annotate selected episodes with signs and symbols that make explicit the negotiated meanings and interpretations of what they see and experience. These annotations are used in turn to detect related episodes, or to link to any other kind of material that supports an pedagogical purpose.
The project is striving
for the development of tangible interfaces so that children can refer
to and manipulate multi-media material through physical objects. The IR
beacons, Magic Boxes and Magic Cubes are elements that can be used to
piece these scenarios together.
A single KidsCam provides a fragmented history of the day of a child, as seen from its own perspective. The crucial insight, however, is that the episodes taken from the perspectives of different children, are interrelated. An event of fighting, anger or joy typically involves multiple children. It can be arranged, therefore, that such an event be recorded from the different perspectives of those involved or others (adults or children).
Children take time to build up a capacity of reflection. Mere replay of their behaviour is not sufficient to lead to reflection. In our approach the intertwined daily episodes, highlighting major events from different points of view, constitute the raw material for a subsequent reflective dialogue involving children, educators and/or parents.