Teaching creative skills to young learners
Context: I’ve been very lucky to grow up in a creative household so I was taught design thinking and surrounded by innovation from a very young age. Wanting to accomplish my goal of living in a country where English wasn’t its first language and wanting a career break, I headed to Vietnam. This project was designed 5 years prior to my UX course.
In a future world of automation, creative skills, critical thinking and problem-solving are three areas that will give young learners the advantage over others in years to come. From my perspective, I felt these were not being harnessed and encouraged enough across education in Vietnam.
How might we encourage young children to have creative skills, critical thinking and problem solving, across the board of education?
I created a children’s resource for Learning English through creativity. My emphasis was on exploration and discovery, broadening kids horizons and firing their imaginations.
With 28 pages, I provided children across the world with an imaginative approach to learning not only English but we also have an emphasis on cultural exploration.
Little Buffalo gave children an introduction to the English language through a wonderful mix of games, stories, and activities which as a cross-curricular and intercultural resource, each issue is themed which expands children’s general knowledge, communication, phonics, storytelling, comprehension and thinking skills.
I interviewed a mix of teachers in Hanoi and parents in both London and other countries to find out what skills they felt were needed to be taught inside and outside of the classroom. And I asked why they felt creativity is important to their child learning.
Wanting it to be not just an online resource, we conducted 12 user interviews targeting parents who buy children’s books. This was important to help us understand the users values, motivations and behaviours. One of our key focal areas was trying to understand why the users were buying children’s books and what educational resources they wanted to see more of.
I created an affinity map to identify themes. From there we were able to create a mind map of core areas to guide our interview questions, with the main question being: why books?
I spoke to parents about their need for offline resources, which parents could feel they are learning at the same time, but not look too obvious that it was made for children.
Children needed to be critical thinkers with imaginative minds give them the advantage over others in years to come.
Speaking to parents, I built user profiles of parents like Huong.
The parents would be older with 2 children who are at reading age. She is driven and wants her children to excel at school. From speaking to a staff member at both Private and public schools, we learnt that many parents want to challenge their kids to read books above their age level. And they want to learn English at the same time if they are not at the same level. Her job reflects this persona competitive and driven nature and her main focus when purchasing books is accelerating her child’s education.
Visual competitive analysis of other children's magazines helped me to find a position in the market where I could place the magazine and shape brand attributes. You can see from the brand comparison chart where we decided to place our brand: a bit less playful but bit more progressive, in learning goals.
With our findings we brainstormed possible solutions, both online and offline. From the research, we wanted to make something tangible, as alot of creativity starts with observation. Firstly wanting children to be introduced to aesthetics and forms and then be taught the basics of design. So something that could be taken on a stroll around the city, museum or park, where they offer lots of design inspiration. But also could be used in a classroom to teach children.
I created a syllabus to go along with this, so we could see how the project would form and skills would be advanced.
I wanted to give the resources a fresh and appealing look that would be both simple and colourful, easy to navigate for any audience and level of English. We checked various references, patterns, colours, and typographic combinations to get the impact we desired.
Prior to releasing it, I tested it on the UK market. Wanting it to be an affordable resource that was used across the UK and abroad for parents, carers and schools, I learnt that it was as much needed in the UK as well as board, especially for both guided reading sessions for non-EAL students as well as independent learning.
Issue 2: Homes around the world.
I designed user flow and site maps completed with a high fidelity prototype.
The final website was for parents, teachers and guardians to buy the resource, which also featured competitions and a blog to keep up to date with the latest news.
I was satisfied with the results I achieved in the limited budget and limited website knowledge I had at the time.
I do believe that this is just the beginning for the magazine, but due to postal costs, it was too expensive to send it abroad in low numbers. However, it did give little taste of the potential it could have become. I hope in the future that I could develop it, expand its abilities, and form an education portal to cater to various needs of the learner and skills needed.