Research 7: Transformational Technology – Report
- Developments in cognitive theory emphasise that the way children physically interact with media influences how they think and learn
- New technologies are changing how children physically interact with media
- New technologies give us a chance to design new experiences and opportunities for children to learn
Andrew Manches is a self-described ‘Learning Scientist’ and spent his session sharing some interesting insights into the value of physical interaction within interactive spaces.
He began by discussing how we traditionally interact with our computers – namely using “disembodied” devices such as remote controls, keyboards and mice. But, with touch screens and gesture recognition devices, our way of interaction is evolving…
For Manches’, these new technological opportunities fit in nicely with the cognitive theory of ‘embodied cognition’ – which suggests that our physical gestures are much more tied into what we are thinking than we had previously suspected.
We were shown a video of a young boy explaining a maths puzzle to the camera, and noted that the child used his hands to gesture while he talked. When the child was asked to explain the puzzle again using different hand gestures, he became muddled and the new gestures disrupted his cognitive process.
Manches explains that humans gesture to support their own thinking – simulating an action to help the thought process. Therefore, gesture could offer us a unique window into what children are thinking, and new technologies may allow us to capture this.
“Gestures” he concludes, “are more important that we think… and new games and technologies are embracing that in a way that has the potential to tap into what children are thinking like never before…”
For more on Andrew’s research visit www.children-and-technology.education.ed.ac.uk