The body at the heart of learning leveraging digital technology: exploring a new paradigm for early childhood education

PhD project

PhD supervisors : Joël Chevrier, Frédéric Bevilacqua, Guillian Graves

Institutions : IRCAM-STMS, CRI Paris (University of Paris), CRD (Center for Research in Design) ENS/ENSCI-Les Ateliers

Faced with the massive arrival of mobile interfaces in the lives of very young children, families and early childhood professionals face difficulties and reduce digital tools to screen-based interfaces only. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, the field of child-computer interaction has seen the emergence of many projects based on tangible interaction. Through multimodal interactions, these interactive devices designed for early childhood promote the mobilization of body and mind. They enrich and establish the field of  “embodied child-computer interaction” research supporting children to play, learn and interact. 

 

In considering this knowledge about early childhood development, the following question can be asked : How to design technology interaction promoting holistic development of the child ? In a design research process, we develop tangible and digital interfaces, included in pedagogical scenarios, for young children (between 2 and 5 years old). These devices make it possible to place the body as a medium for interaction with technology by promoting multimodal interactions, i.e. the senses (hearing, sight, touch) as well as movement and gestures.

In collaboration with childhood specialists in health and education, as well as designers and engineers, we have developed 3 pedagogical scenarios : 

  • CoMo.education, an application for telling sound stories in motion (based on the technology developed by the Interaction Sound Music Movement team at IRCAM)

  • Learning Matters, electronic textile devices promoting hand gesture interaction with electronic circuit components (in collaboration with Claire Eliot, e-textile designer, Motion Lab)

  • egloo, an interactive and tangible space that invites the child to move, feel and interact with several manipulatives (supported by Lab Premiers Cris team). 

In an ecological approach, all these scenarios are tested in several kindergartens in the Parisian region. 

This PhD project is also part of the Lab Premiers Cris, an exploratory research lab on early childhood, at the interface between Science and Design. 

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