Year

2015

Client

Hello Ruby OY

Research Method

Cultural Probe Kit, co-creation sessions

Output

3 videos, a research kit, content for website

Brief

Hello Ruby teaches kids how to code. What is the most effective way to reach them?


Hello Ruby

What’s inside a computer?

Creating an activity booklet / research kit to understand kids’ relationship with technology.

Hello Ruby is the most whimsical way to learn about technology. In this project I got to know more about kids by designing a cultural probe kit that 130 kids filled out and sent back. The kit gave insight to the daily lives hobbies of kids, but also their relationship and feelings with technology, computers, and code. This research is still carried out 3 years later with kids from Asia to America and all in between.

You can read about what kids think happens inside a computer here and here. About learnings from working at the intersection of kids and tech here. On how to create cultural probe kits for children here.

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How to conduct Design Research for Kids

When dealing with children, gaining insight is quite a challenge as they are not able yet to follow traditional surveys, questionnaires, or even interviews and these methods limit the creativity of a child. Moreover, kids’ attention spans are short, their thoughts are jumbled, and they don’t think very linearly. They are often guarded with their responses or in most cases influenced by their peers, teachers, or parents. We needed to design something that they could take home, fill out on their own, at their own pace and own comfort, then give it back in and have fun while doing it.

 

Design of the Activity

The kit comprises of 6 exercises that ranged from fill in the blanks to drawing, circling, writing, and finally explaining. For the kids it was a fun booklet to complete, while for us it was very valuable insight on kids and their environments.The kit was designed having two sections in mind.

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The first section was about kids and their personalities, just day-to-day things to understand who they are, what they are up to, what or who are they playing with and what were their favourite subjects. Not only was it a good icebreaker to start and build on topics they are familiar with, but it was a great way to be with them while not being with them.








The second part focused on technology, computers, and building/creating. While the first section was mostly easy fill in the blanks, in this section things became a bit more challenging when kids were put to the test to build something, draw it and explain it.

We even included an A/B test to see which exercises kids responded to better. One exercise was to describe their favourite book and why they liked it, and the other was giving a detailed explanation of them building something cool. In short, the probe kit aimed to get insight on the kids themselves and also simultaneously about the efficiency of the design.

Beyond Finland

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Learnings

Children enjoy drawing over thinking as they enjoy the tangible world. They prefer making over explaining. Ask a child how he feels, and he struggles. Ask a child to build or draw and they can spend hours creating masterpieces. Kids are the real makers of the world that do without inhibitions or concern. I have learned that technology, or pedagogy, or any other form of teaching should focus as much, if not more, on the physical making as the empirical learning. So, less time on the digital and more on the tangible.

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