AN ENACTIVE APPROACH TO TECHNOLOGICALLY MEDIATED LEARNING THROUGH PLAY
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis investigated the application of enactive principles to the design of classroom technolo- gies for young children’s learning through play. This study identified the attributes of an enactive pedagogy, in order to develop a design framework to accommodate enactive learning processes. From an enactive perspective, the learner is defined as an autonomous agent, capable of adapta- tion via the recursive consumption of self generated meaning within the constraints of a social and material world. Adaptation is the parallel development of mind and body that occurs through inter- action, which renders knowledge contingent on the environment from which it emerged. Parallel development means that action and perception in learning are as critical as thinking. An enactive approach to design therefore aspires to make the physical and social interaction with technology meaningful to the learning objective, rather than an aside to cognitive tasks. The design framework considered in detail the necessary affordances in terms of interaction, activity and context. In a further interpretation of enactive principles, this thesis recognised play and pretence as vehicles for designing and evaluating enactive learning and the embodied use of technology. In answering the research question, the interpreted framework was applied as a novel approach to designing and analysing children’s engagement with technology for learning, and worked towards a paradigm where interaction is part of the learning experience. The aspiration for the framework was to inform the design of interaction modalities to allow users’ to exercise the inherent mechanisms they have for making sense of the world. However, before making the claim to support enactive learning processes, there was a question as to whether technologically mediated realities were suitable environments to apply this framework. Given the emphasis on the physical world and action, it was the intention of the research and design activities to explore whether digital artefacts and spaces were an impoverished reality for enactive learning; or if digital objects and spaces could afford sufficient ’reality’ to be referents in social play behaviours. The project embedded in this research was tasked with creating deployable technologies that could be used in the classroom. Consequently, this framework was applied in practice, whereby the design practice and deployed technologies served as pragmatic tools to investigate the potential for interactive technologies in children’s physical, social and cognitive learning. To understand the context, underpin the design framework, and evaluate the impact of any techno- logical interventions in school life, the design practice was informed by ethnographic methodologies. The design process responded to cascading findings from phased research activities. The initial fieldwork located meaning making activities within the classroom, with a view to to re-appropriating situated and familiar practices. In the next stage of the design practice, this formative analysis determined the objectives of the participatory sessions, which in turn contributed to the creation of technologies suitable for an inquiry of enactive learning. The final technologies used standard school equipment with bespoke software, enabling children to engage with real time compositing and tracking applications installed in the classrooms’ role play spaces. The evaluation of the play space technologies in the wild revealed under certain conditions, there was evidence of embodied presence in the children’s social, physical and affective behaviour - illustrating how mediated realities can extend physical spaces. These findings suggest that the attention to meaningful interaction, a presence in the environment as a result of an active role, and a social presence - as outlined in the design framework - can lead to the emergence of observable enactive learning processes. As the design framework was applied, these principles could be examined and revised. Two notable examples of revisions to the design framework, in light of the applied practice, related to: (1) a key affordance for meaningful action to emerge required opportunities for direct and immediate engagement; and (2) a situated awareness of the self and other inhabitants in the mediated space required support across the spectrum of social interaction. The application of the design framework enabled this investigation to move beyond a theoretical discourse.
The following license files are associated with this item: