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Technology Updated: 22 Aug 2017

Three practical experiments to show how technology can help us learn

Make people the center of technological innovation to help them in their daily life. This is the best possible definition of social technology, all of these advances making it possible to change the life of users.The CATS-MAD event (Madrid Social Technology Club), held at the BBVA Innovation Center, received as special guest Carmen Fernández-Panadero, a specialist in learning projects.

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During the event of the Madrid Social Technology Club (CATS-MAD), Carmen Fernández-Panadero explained using practical examples how technology can help both children and adults learn and retain information in a creative manner. "The brain is easy to deceive, it doesn't distinguish between real or fictitious experiences", she said. "And we think: why not take advantage of that!" This notion marked the inception of Project PhyMEL (Physical Mental and Emotional Learning), an initiative that designs educational experiences.

These experiences attempt to break the linear learning process by including gamification and pedagogical activities. Fernández-Panadero's team, at Madrid's Carlos III University Telematics Services Department, carried out three practical experiments with people of different ages, using various scenarios and technologies. Her thesis is that the individual is capable of assimilating more information if more senses are involved in the learning process.

Experiment 1: Our museum

The objective of this experience is to hold a painting exhibition for the parents of fifty Primary School (four to five year olds) children. The idea was to attain a greater level of learning by including technology in their daily activities.

The team used enhanced reality, RFID technology, and mobile phones to construct a type of game board in which the children could paint and learn simultaneously. Parents could then enjoy the work of their children in seeing them explain which techniques they had used to imitate the best works in the history of painting.

Experiment 2: the kidnapped scientist

In the second of the two examples, the scientific team designed an experiment in a museum with a group of secondary school students and included some elements of gamification so that the youths could visit and learn the details of the exhibition. By using tablet PCs and QR codes, the students formed teams in which each one had to fulfill a role (leader, searcher, photographer, reporter, and handy person) to find the clues to the whereabouts of a kidnapped scientist. An experience that combines gamification andstorytelling.

The entire process was recorded in a comic strip and in multimedia information that was then distributed to the young people once the experiment was over. In addition, the data were also forwarded to the management of the museum, which then were able to discover what had been the most attractive areas of the exhibition for the students.

Experience 3: Experience the city in a wheelchair

In the third project, for which Fernández-Panadero is seeking funding, the Carlos III team developed a transit platform that, with the help of software, makes it possible for people to learn the difficulties one experiences in a wheelchair in day-to-day city life.

Thanks to this system, they come to realize how complicated it is to deal with obstacles, ramps, incorrectly parked cars, or getting out of unpleasant situations when they fall.

The idea is to finance a new open hardware prototype with crowdfunding, including a real wheel chair on the physical platform and four application studies. The platform could help medical professionals teach people with disabilities how to move about in wheelchairs.