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Students Help Pearson Design Learning Technologies

Once a week, eight children arrive at the Pearson IDEA Innovation Center in Chandler, AZ, ready to work with designers and developers on the latest learning tools the company is designing.

The second- through seventh-graders are part of the Kids Team at Pearson project that started this past summer as a one-week summer camp. During the camp, the students worked on the Pearson Realize project in which they helped their older counterparts design a next-generation learning management system for K-12 classrooms.

After that initial successful collaboration, some of those students and a few more continued the project into the current school year and already have worked with Pearson designers on a mobile application for early literacy, the design of a geometry game and enhancements to a library of reusable, interactive instructional components.

Pearson's goal with its Kids Team at Pearson project is to have learners become co-designers of digital tools that they and their classmates might use in the future. Another goal is to better understand what students want from learning technologies in terms of features and functionality.

"Who better to help design learning tools than learners?" asked Lisa Maurer, manager of product design research at the Pearson Research & Innovation Network Center for Product Design Research & Efficacy. "We are encouraging collaboration, creativity and a passion for knowledge among the participating students, while we gather greater first-hand insights into the next generation of our solutions."

Each week, the students have a new and different design challenge to work on, everything from building a new interface to a learning management system to helping designers figure out what makes a digital curriculum engaging to them.

"Before I didn't know about the process for making apps," said Briana Jamerson a fifth grader at Riggs Elementary School in Chandler. "Now I know you have to go through trials over and over again until you get it perfect."

The Kids Team at Pearson initiative started out in 1998 when it was launched at the University of Maryland's Human Computer Interaction Lab.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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