Designers often do not receive first hand experience and feedback of student response to their lessons. Here at Karkhana Samuha we adopt a human centered approach to designing lessons and kits putting students at the center of our design. To ensure that different characteristics of ‘play’ are integrated well into the lessons, Sameer and Akshay, teachers and lesson designers at Karkhana Samuha, have been constantly testing lessons they designed with the students they are designing for. Here, the two designers share insights and experience on play-based classrooms during the first 6 months of teaching with and designing PEBL (Playful Engineering Based Learning) kits.
Interview with Sameer, facilitator and content designer/developer for the PEBL course
I think being thoroughly familiar with the content really helped. Because we’d discussed in depth the objectives behind the smallest task or instruction, it helped in internalizing that the point was to learn rather than to finish. So right from the first session, I was focused on learning as accomplishment rather than on completion. This also led me to be flexible with the time I spent on certain lessons. I didn’t feel like I needed to finish a lesson within one class period. For example with the Greeting Cards lesson, I spent one session entirely on familiarizing the students to LEDs which most were playing with for the first time. We used two other sessions to then build the actual greeting cards.
I used to have this philosophy about teaching and education where I placed ‘understanding’ at the center of learning. I thought that teaching and learning was about making sure all students in a classroom reached a certain level of understanding about the concepts being explored. I think with courses like PEBL, I’ve shifted my focus a bit and now think more about making the learning process enjoyable too. Personally, the LtP online course was very helpful in shaping that change. Before the course, I didn’t know what to look for in class and wasn’t sure if I was doing a good job as a teacher. The course provided categories and names for classroom behavior which was very insightful. It also validated that in fact playful learning was happening in my classrooms.