Children of today have been born in the world where smart phones, tablets, and constant stream of data to and from the Internet are ordinary things. Children have learnt to use digital technology as toddlers and will be truly living a life completely intertwined with digital technology as adults. However, some children are better equipped for the future full of digital technologies than others, causing digital divide, i.e. polarization between those who have access and ability to develop their skills related to digital technology, and those who have not. This is a serious concern in the current society, including Finland. It is pivotal to provide for children of today equal means to access, use, and gain benefit of digital technology. The young generation needs to understand and be able to make informed decisions on how to utilize digital technology for different everyday life purposes.
Our work should contribute to the prevention of the digital divide and to the development of skills and competencies that the young generation will need in their adult life. These skills and competencies should help them survive and manage in the increasingly digitalized world of tomorrow as well as to contribute to their employment and hence help preventing the culture of unemployment – in Northern Ostrobothnia as well as elsewhere. The project aims to prepare children to act as competent, skilled and innovative workforce of the future as well as to secure that children get an equal opportunity to avoid inequality and exclusion in their adult life.
Hence, the objectives of the project are as follows:
- To empower children through technology making and designerly thinking in education to become better prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
- To develop new tools in cooperation with schools and the educational sector for educating children in technology making and designerly thinking
The research progress beyond the state of the art in several respects. The recent trend oftechnology making offers fascinating opportunities for empowering children, while so far, the research community has not utilized the full potential of this. The existing initiativeshave focused too strongly on building of technology, while they have neglected the aspects of designerly thinking, competence building and sustained learning that all should be intimately integrated with technology making. This is where we contribute beyond state-of-the-art: we offer new means and tools for integrating technology making with designerly thinking. Additionally, we progress beyond the state-of-the-art through integrating technology making and designerly thinking into the comprehensive school education of the young generation. This requires an interdisciplinary approach combining the expertise of design, technology and education as well as a thorough understanding of the context of school and existing curricula to be able to fit these efforts with them. Here, collaboration with schools is essential.
Prof. Iivari and Prof. Kinnula will guide all the work done with schools and children in the project, while Heidi Hartikainen and Leena Ventä-Olkkonen will carry out most of the practical activities with schools and children.
Examples of children's work in the project so far:
Funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation Northern Osthrobothia Regional Fund