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Perspectives On The Design of Digital Tools For Education

For the past four years, I have been conducting participatory action research within public elementary schools and FabLabs in Paris. I have been designing digital tools in close collaboration with children and young participants in each site. Each community of practice has its own ways of enacting their views on learning. This allows for a beautiful diversity of practices, which challenges our conceptual models about ideal learning processes. But more importantly, the discussions between these practices reveal hidden assumptions about the goals and the values of learning and education.

In this talk, I will focus on a study I have conducted for a year within a classroom with first graders and their teacher, and I will insist on the relationship between two developmental dimensions. On the one hand, I will describe the design process of
a digital tool aiming at engaging pupils in media-making activities, and show the evolution of this tool due to the successive activities that it mediated. On the other hand, I will show how the new forms of activities that this tool enabled progressively transformed both the teacher’s stance and pupils’ agency in the classroom, toward a sustainable shift.

Through this situated example, I will highlight the opportunities we can create through designing digital technologies to make underlying views at work visible and accessible for debate and transformation. These are developmental opportunities anchored within situations, and I believe that this approach to technology can enable new forms of authentic and democratic participation.

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