From The Ground Up

Published:

v. 15 Dec ‘21

From The Ground Up - Playful Design Education Toolkit

NB The toolkit consists of a manual and several videos. The manual can be downloaded here. The above playlist starts with a video giving an overview of the project, after which it will play all the videos of the toolkit in the intended order.

Overview

In my MSc. project commissioned by the Kenyan nongovernmental organisation Sustainable Rural Initiatives (SRI), I developed a toolkit to help elementary school-age children in the rural community of Okana to develop design skills in a playful way. The toolkit helps to organise workshops in which children’s design processes are structured as a creative maker activity; the children go through a process of divergence and convergence, iteratively modelling locally available materials into an artefact of their design, which they finally present to each other. Over the course of several workshops the children work on increasingly free and open designs, further allowing them do develop their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Sustainable Rural Initiatives on the map

Toolkit

The toolkit consists of a manual that contains concise visual/written instructions for the workshop host and supporting videos for participants. The manual and videos help to host these design workshops for children. Each workshop divides a design challenge in three phases: Explore, Prototype, and Present. In the first phase the children are introduced to the topic and design challenge, through a video or by the workshop host. In the second phase of the workshops, each child builds a scale model in which their ideal solution is elaborated. Finally, the children present their design to each other and discover and celebrate the great diversity of possible solutions.

The manual contains instructions for the workshop host on how to host the workshops. The first workshops are clearly pre-formatted with the help of videos, such that a host can become acquainted with the proposed didactics and become self-reliant to carry out subsequent - more open - assignments. Those videos include questions that provoke discussion between the children. After the instructions for the first two workshops, that are supported by videos, the manual offers workshop hosts suggestions for further, more open-ended workshops for him or her to organise for the participating children.

Instructions

At the core of the toolkit is the manual, which explains how the workshops can be organised. The manual first explains the workshop format and then how the intended sequence of workshops facilitates progressively more open-ended challenges for the children to tackle. Next, step-by-step instructions illustrate how to organise the first and second workshop. The final chapter of the manual explains how a workshop host may organise further workshops, by making use of several given examples and a template to come up with more challenges to give children in workshops. The videos in the toolkit can be used to make organising the workshops easier. They were divided in three sections: two recruitment videos that can be used to introduce the workshops to children, two workshop videos that can be used to organise the first two entry-level workshops, and finally a conclusions video that can be used for bringing the workshops to a close.

Considerations

This toolkit was developed remotely from the Netherlands in dialogue with a local community worker from SRI for use at their community centre in Okana during the 2020/2021 Covid pandemic. By using the naturally available clay at SRI’s premises the toolkit intended to incur no costs for SRI, besides the internet costs needed to download the manual and videos. If used in different surroundings, the user of this toolkit, or the children engaging in the workshops themselves, would have to consider what materials are available to use in their own surroundings. Additionally, to allow for the workshops to take place in an afternoon the design process was simplified compared to more traditional, iterative design processes; rather than forcing participants to produce many ideas, the workshop format and toolkit focuses on celebrating the diversity of outcomes of each workshop.

More information

The project report can be found on the TU Delft repository

This project was presented at the PATT38 conference. The PDF of the abstract can be downloaded here

Suggested reference:

Westerhof, M. B., Gielen, M. A., van Boeijen, A. G. C., Jowi, J. O., & Jowi, J. O. (2021, April). Remote co-development of a design education toolkit for children rural Kenya. In The 38th Pupil’s Attitude Toward Technology Conference: Technology in our hands/Creative Pedagogy and Ambitious Teacher Education.

Sustainable Rural Initiatives’ website can be found here