Students of Today Help Design Learning Tools of Tomorrow With KidsTeam at Pearson

11/10/2014 12:00:00 AM

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Nov. 10, 2014 — Every week, a team of eight 2nd-7th graders arrives at Pearson’s offices in Chandler, Arizona, ready to work side-by-side with the company’s designers and developers. They are KidsTeam at Pearson, part of an initiative announced today by the company’s Research & Innovation Network, which transforms learners into co-designers of the digital tools and solutions that they and their classmates may learn with in the future.

Pearson’s KidsTeam works collaboratively to create solutions with “real world” applications, while building skills in subjects such as technology and math through hands-on learning. The initiative is the result of Pearson’s long-term collaboration with the University of Maryland’s Human Computer Interaction Lab, where the KidsTeam approach to technology design was launched in 1998.

The students meet regularly throughout the school year in the Pearson iDEA Innovation Center, a digital laboratory focused on user-centered design, usability testing and user experience research, where they use various co-design techniques to provide insight and input into innovative products and learner experiences. Each week the students have a different design challenge – from building a new interface for a learning management system to sharing insights on what makes digital curriculum engaging.

"KidsTeam has taught me about researching things and how technology works," said Briana Jamerson, 5th grader at Riggs Elementary. "Before I didn’t know about the process for making apps, but now I know you have to go through trials over and over again until you get it perfect."

By involving kids in the design process for technologies that will be used by students, Pearson aims to better understand what students want from new learning technologies in terms of features, functionality and overall experience.

“Who better to help design learning tools than learners? Through the KidsTeam initiative, we are encouraging collaboration, creativity and a passion for knowledge among the participating students, while we gather great first-hand insights into the next generation of our solutions,” said Lisa Maurer, manager, product design research, Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network Center for Product Design Research & Efficacy.

Best of all, these kids are building skills that will prepare them for success in school, college and career. According to the U.S. Department of Education, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs are growing at 1.7 times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and the United States is not producing enough candidates to fill them. The creativity, collaboration and problem-solving skills that Pearson’s KidsTeam members are building gives them unique preparation to pursue higher education and careers in the STEM fields.

"I am always really excited to go to KidsTeam because we do a lot of fun and creative stuff in order to create apps," said Matt Mularoni, 7th grader at Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School.

Pearson’s KidsTeam program launched in summer 2014 with a one-week summer camp session, where the students worked on synchronous project collaboration features for Pearson Realize, a next generation learning management system launching in K-12 classrooms. During the upcoming school year, the KidsTeam will work on an early literacy mobile application, geometry game design and enhancements to a library of reusable, interactive instructional components used across multiple solutions.

For more information on Pearson’s KidsTeam initiative, please visit: http://researchnetwork.pearson.com/product-design-research-efficacy/kidsteam.

About Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network

To help address the most pressing questions facing teachers and students, Pearson brought together top education experts in the Research & Innovation Network with the mission to research and invent capabilities and tools educators need to create engaging, meaningful, personalized learning that leads to student success. The Research & Innovation Network is led by Kimberly O’Malley, Ph.D., senior vice president of Research and Development, and supports six centers: the Center for Digital Data, Analytics & Adaptive Learning; the Center for College & Career Success; the Center for NextGen Learning & Assessment; the Center for eLearning; the Center for Educator Learning & Effectiveness; and the Center for Product Design Research & Efficacy. For more information about Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network, visit researchnetwork.pearson.com.

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