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Play, learning and ‘technotoys’. Lydia Plowman Institute of Education, University of Stirling [email protected] Acknowledgements and sources. Exploring & mapping interactivity with digital toy technology ( EPSRC/ESRC ) www.stir.ac.uk/ioe/cachet/

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play learning and technotoys

Play, learning and ‘technotoys’

Lydia Plowman

Institute of Education, University of Stirling

[email protected]

acknowledgements and sources
Acknowledgements and sources

Exploring & mapping interactivity with digital toy technology (EPSRC/ESRC) www.stir.ac.uk/ioe/cachet/

Rosemary Luckin, Sharon Airey, Daniel Connolly

INTERFACE

The technologisation of childhood?

Alan Prout, Daniela Sime

CULTURAL CONTEXT

Interplay: Play, learning and ICT in pre-school settings (ESRC)

Christine Stephen, Joanna McPake, Susi Downey, Daniela Sime

EDUCATION

2

outline of talk
Outline of talk
  • Brief chronological overview
  • Selling play
  • Play and learning

3

a century of toys
Meccano 1901

Teddy bears 1902

Lego 1932

Monopoly 1936

Scrabble 1948

Scalextric 1952

Barbie and Ken 1959

Cluedo 1959

Trolls 1961

Spirograph 1965

GI Joe/Action Man 1965

Twister 1966

Etch-a-sketch 1967

Rubik’s cube 1980

Trivial Pursuit 1982

(source: BATR)

A century of toys

8

slide9
Nintendo Gameboy 1987
  • Beanie Babies 1993
  • Tamagotchi 1997
  • Furby 1998

9

smart dolls
‘Smart’ dolls

My Real Baby, My Dream Baby, Amazing Babies ...

Electronic pets

Tekno, Poo-chi, Kitty, Meow-chi

10

christmas 2002 the top ten toys
Christmas 2002: the top ten toys

1. LeapPad

2. Barbie Rapunzel

3. Beyblades

4. VJ Starz Karaoke Music Studio

(Source: BATR)

11

christmas 2002 the top ten toys12
Christmas 2002: the top ten toys

5. Baby Annabel

‘She makes real sucking sounds and brings up wind. She yawns and breathes even when asleep.’

6. Micropets

7. Dance Maker 2

8. Rapunzel horse and carriage

9. Weakest Link - electronic

10. Ready Steady Cook popcorn maker

12

predictions for christmas bestsellers 2003
Predictions for Christmas bestsellers 2003
  • Badge It Bandai (£15)
  • Barbie Swan Lake Mattel (£20)
  • Beyblades Radio Control Top & Launcher Hasbro (£30)
  • Bionicles Lego (£7)
  • Boohbah Golden Bear (£15)
  • Bratz Winter Collection Bandai (£25)
  • Cranium Re:Creation (£25)
  • LeapPad Learning System Leapfrog (£30)
  • Turtles Vivid (£7)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Upstarts! (£7)
trends
Trends
  • £1.88 billion toy, hobby and games industry in UK 2001 (up 6% on 2000)
  • Video games 28% total
  • Increase in educational toys
  • More trans-media licensing
    • lunchboxes, pyjamas, magazines, films, television, software
    • c. 25% of sales, particularly pre-school
  • Collectible playground craze toys
    • Beyblades, Micropets ‘because being first matters’

(Source: BTHA)

14

media concerns and technotoys
Media concerns and technotoys
  • Displace traditional forms of play
  • Constrain children’s imaginations
    • the toys stifle rather than nurture creativity - children exhaust the possibilities for play quickly and lose interest
  • Reduce attention spans
  • Adversely affect human interaction
    • looking after robotic dolls and pets may diminish social skills
    • a risk of attachment to toys that are programmed to act as if they are emotionally attached to the child
  • ‘Children need the human touch, not machines.’

(The Herald, 9 October 2003)

15

technotoys and consumers
Technotoys and consumers
  • The need to market toys for children and adults
    • the balance between play & learning
    • parents select on basis of educational value
      • interactive storybooks, electronic cash registers, toy laptops
      • technotoys are seen as a gateway to authentic computers
  • Even if adults don’t like them, they still buy them
    • pressurised into buying certain toys that offer entry to a network of other children
    • adults feel they don’t have enough time to play with their children
    • adults are susceptible to claims that toys promote cognitive development and nurturing skills.

16

selling play
independent play

mathematical

musical

linguistic

motor skills

co-operative play

visual

(Amazon.com)

thinking power

mental fitness

practical knowledge

personal & emotional well-being

physical development

social skills

(BTHA)

Selling play

17

play and learning 1
Play and learning (1)
  • spontaneous... timetabled
  • pleasurable... serious
  • exploratory... goal-directed
  • diversion... targeted
  • absorbing... unexciting
  • entertainment... work

pleien (O.E.) dance, leap for joy, rejoice

play as hard fun, soft learning, stealth learning

18

slide19
Play and learning (2)
  • What does learning mean?
    • developing understanding out of experience (or study, or being taught)
    • integrating that understanding into a mental model of the world
    • understanding about self, others, the world
  • Play can promote learning dispositions
    • resilience in the face of uncertainty
    • confidence to express ideas
    • collaborative & reflective problem solving

Carr, M. (2001, 2002)

19

play and learning 3
Play and learning (3)
  • Difficult to establish causal relationships
  • Complexity in play is highly correlated with age
    • It is ‘an easy mistake to believe that the major purpose of play development is to contribute to other kinds of age-related development – social, emotional and cognitive’

(Sutton-Smith, 1997)

  • Why is play seen as so important for children’s development but as a diversion for adults?
  • Play as a waste of time (educational ‘conservatives’) or play as a form of work (educational ‘progressives’)
  • The rhetoric of progress
    • benefits of play are transferable to development and learning
  • The rhetoric of interactivity
    • benefits of technology

...technology-supported play

20

the manufacturer s claims
The manufacturer’s claims

“Fun functions to help your child learn...the ideal learning partner for children.The Actimates interactive learning system grows with a child...uses fun, challenging games and activities to help children master time concepts, language skills and more,” said the developmental psychologist and lead designer in developing the Actimates learning system.

Microsoft

21

play learning teaching
Play, learning & teaching
  • Some consensus between policymakers, practitioners, academics & parents on play and learning
  • Ideology surrounding play and learning ranges from the ‘rhapsodic to the pragmatic’
  • Relationship between play and teaching
    • no unified theoretical or pedagogical base to guide practice
    • gaps between the rhetoric of play and actual practice

(Wood & Bennett,1997)

22

cachet
CACHET
  • Children play with the toys on their own terms
    • some children preferred the toys in non-interactive mode and found the talking irritating
    • interest in the toy diminished fairly quickly
    • the toys were not generally integrated into other play activities
  • The toys did not appear to promote engagement or time on task
    • some benefit for younger children
    • the toy’s help repertoire is very limited
    • children often ignore or dismiss the toy’s help, favouring human sources

23

cachet interface and interaction
CACHET: interface and interaction
  • Children can co-ordinate multiple interfaces
    • not impressed by communication between toy & computer
    • possibilities of using tangible interfaces for delivery of help
  • Leisure-oriented technology developments using speech and touch increasingly produce toys that exhibit a range of interface modalities
  • Products can use familiar forms (cuddly toys, balls, dolls or construction bricks) which are computationally enhanced and so interaction can become more social in nature and less constrained by the need for the screen-based, programmed responses that can be a source of concern.

24

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