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An Onboarding Experience with littleBits at IDC2016

June 23, 2016
Mark Lochrie

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Tuesday 21 June 2016, saw the first littleBits onboarding workshop held at an academic conference IDC2016. The workshop combined pupils from four schools, a local STEAM organisation (WiganSTEAM), conference delegates from all around the world and ourselves from the Media Innovation Studio. The day kicked off with introductions and a hands on experience with littleBits, pupils and delegates got to play around with the bits and a heap of recyclables to think of a solution to a problem. After lunch the participants resumed by finishing off and presenting their solutions to the group. The second part of the day involved evaluating our work on an Augmented Learning Environment, or ALE for short. Participations were presented with a playful web interface on iPads scattered around the room. We wanted people to think about how the physical might be represented in a digital world, with added benefits from providing users with meta data and additional rich content, through the help from a helperBit (a Microsoft style ‘Clippy’ bot). The role of the helperBit is to guide users through a process of onboarding and learning, capturing and recording user feedback and progress along the way. To end the day the pupils provided their feedback of the day on bespoke software built at UCLan called Remerge. Not to leave the grown-ups out they also had time to reflect about the day using the software but to think about different questions to create more of a group discussion.

We as researchers got so much from the day and are very passionate about taking this onboarding further with other co-design workshops planned in the not to distant future. I would just like to specially thank, all the schools who participated; St Peter’s, Abram St John’s, Hindley Green Community Primary School and St John’s Hindley Green from The Keys Federation, my team Andy Dickinson who chaired the day, Adrian Gradinar who provided technical assistance and dedicated cameraman, the delegates from the conference and of course last but not least, the children.

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