Putting Learning at the Center: Kids CoLab Visits ISTE 2015

Kids CoLab members building with Legos

One very wise nine-year-old in Maryland once told Pearson: “Making technology for kids without working directly with them is like making clothes for someone you don’t know the size of.”

We have taken that advice and about a year ago started Kids CoLab at Pearson. Every week, a group of kids from middle and elementary school join us in the Pearson Chandler, AZ, office to help us co-design new products, solutions, and features.

Lisa Maurer, who was inspired to start Kids CoLab at Pearson, is the heart of the program. She was accepted as a presenter at ISTE, and since the kids are equal partners, it was very important to involve them.

Two kid co-designers from the inaugural program joined Pearson at ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia.

Members of Kids-CoLab Team

Briana, left; Lisa Maurer, center; and Matt, right.

Their first ISTE event was a poster session. They had two hours to showcase what educators can learn from Kids CoLab.  They took the opportunity to not only share their mission to involve learners early in the design process, but to share techniques that build creativity and problem-solving skills so teachers can use them in the classroom.

Teachers at KidsCoLab booth

Here are the kids in the booth. Can’t see them? Attendees were very interested in what they were doing.

Kids talking at demonstration table

Matt and Briana were demonstrating the low-tech prototype approach, which is more fondly known as “bags of stuff”.  They use art supplies to bring their thought process and ideas to life.

 

Next, the kids made their way to the Pearson booth.

Two Kids CoLab members pointing to schedule listing

Briana and Matt were very excited to be part of Pearson’s tradeshow presence. They got to show off their techniques and what they’ve learned over the past year for a different group of attendees.

 

The parents of Kids CoLab members have been hinting at the benefits of Kids CoLab since a few weeks after it started. But at ISTE, we also got to see how the kids were building skills they need for the future. In Kids CoLab, they regularly present on the solutions they built, and those public speaking skills were on display as they talked to both kids and adults. And, as Briana and Matt worked together on the low-tech prototypes, we also saw the social benefits like improved ability to collaborate and communicate.

This past year, Matt was inspired to really become a “maker” and even took on the project to raise funds in order to build his own computer. Read more about his journey.

Lisa and the whole Kids CoLab team are excited to start their second year in the fall. Find updates and more their work at: researchnetwork.pearson.com/kidscolab.