Design educational tool

Learning, moving and digital tools

This week, I saw a presentation about the Muuvit, a Finnish start-up with a teaching and learning tools for elementary schools. Their product is a hybrid of tangible materials that comes in a box and an online community. The idea is to promote children to move more: to play outside, to jump around in a park, to climb a tree, to walk to the school. The reasoning makes a lot of sense. Healthy children are better learners and for children to keep themselves healthy is actually pretty simple. Healthiness follows, if children play with a lot of physical movement.

Children taking part in the Muuvit–program all have a little booklet where they mark all the events, 10 minutes, of “moving” regardless what type of movement it is. From the booklets the activity points are then put to the online system that will keep track of the whole school class’ points. The activity points are then used on a poster that looks like a board game. With the poster children do an adventure around Europe. Moving on the board opens new learning materials on a web site. The material varies from arithmetic to geography and environment.

I like how Muuvit is combining tangible objects and digital tools. Being tangible is important for children. Tangibility and physical movement go hand in hand. Also there is research on the relation between physical healthiness and ability to learn. They do correlate and there seems to be causality, too. However, I have a hypothesis that the relation is not linear, but rather a normal distribution. In practice, this means that if you do a lot of sports it starts to reduce your ability to learn [Grin]. Think about it. It would explain many things.

I also like Muuvit because it is not about sports but about moving and free playing. From the learning point of view moving in a form of a free play is better than taking part in some sports with objectives, training and couching. Free play develops imagination and when practiced in a group it requires social skills. I think this is exactly what we need.

Also this week, another Finnish start-up released a beautiful and simple iPhone app to track your physical movement per day. The app is called the Moves App and tracks number of steps, kilometers walked, cycled, moved by driving your car or by public transportation. It puts all your moving on a map and shows you the kilometers walked and ran.

I haven’t tested it yet, but it sounds perfect for me and I believe for many others, too. I am not a Quantified-self freak. I am not interested in to know every possible piece of quantitative data about my life. But what I am interested in, although, is my health. I would like to track my movements, such as walking to the tram stop etc., that have an effect to my health. I am not interested in to track my training. I actually hate to go jogging and do it only because I know that it is good for me. Having a tool telling me I did it! is enough.

There are many sport / movement tracking / recording products but I am afraid that they are primary designed for sport enthusiast by sport enthusiast. I am not one of them and not planning to become one. I need sport technology when I am scuba diving but I am not into “training” with tools. Actually I am not into training at all. The Moves App looks very suitable tracking tool for a lazy mover like me.

I think that the people of the Moovit and the Moves App should meet. Maybe we can have a walk around Töölönlahti?

PS. In my research group we are also looking how to visually combine students’ objective and subjective well-being indicators with their learning performance so that it would help them to take actions to improve their learning and well-being. Results coming later this year.

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