‘Learning is a Breeze’ is an interactive exhibit which comfortably removes the audience from their comfort zone through playful interaction.
Our learning institutions and systems have only marginally changed in the last centuries, even though it is generally agreed upon that our schooling systems are inadequate for the challenges of today’s constantly evolving worlds. Researchers call for a radical shift in the way we learn and teach. However, our learning institutions seem change resistant. We find it necessary to establish a ‘Learntopia‘, which brings a ‘Breeze’ to the general lack of vision when it comes to education. ‘Learning is a Breeze‘ was designed as a part of an exhibition around Learning and Design at the Open Design Festival in August 2013 in Cape Town. The aim of the project was to present a culturally diverse audience with a different view on education, technology and gaming whilst engaging them in playful and delightful interaction.
During a 10-day long design showcase in Cape Town more than 5800 people visited City Hall, an audience of varied ages and cultural backgrounds. The interactive installation was planned in the context
of the exhibition theme ‘Learning and Design’, which in turn was only a small part in a larger 1000 SQM exhibition on various design topics at Cape Town City Hall.
The project team decided to introduce an element that is usually very scarce in design exhibitions: A resting and playing area. We anticipated a curious, but saturated and tired audience, which had
spent most of their time looking at objects and reading text panels.
We wanted that people could ‘zone out’ from the rest of the exhibition and offer them a mix of relaxation, joy and learning. To achieve this, we built a podium with a patch of grass and invited people to lie down and challenge each others spelling skill with a video game.
The combination of playful interaction through a multiplayer game and chilling in a resting position within a public space created an extraordinary and memorable experience of engagement between the
players and community. The installation which was also the centre of the space, created the intended attraction and interest in the topic and content of the the
surrounding poster exhibition on ‘Education and Design’. We created a “comfort zone” within the larger City Hall, which in turn succeeded in leading the audience out of THEIR comfort zone and
spark spontaneous interaction. The unexpected yet simple and enjoyable interaction resulted in the most rewarding reactions of our users. It made them smile and joke with each other.
This was exactly what we had hoped to achieve.
The multidisciplinary team that had worked on ‘Learning is a Breeze‘ has distinct experience in engaging audiences in public settings. In anticipation of a very heterogeneous audience with varying levels of
technology experience, the interaction had to be reduced to the most simple elements. We anticipated short dwell times of 15 minutes or less, which prohibited a more complex interaction. We introduced the
metaphor of flying a paper jet, which put the audience at ease by carrying a faint memory of school education where jets were made to kill time and have fun. Joyful SoundFX and background track further
supported this goal. The four steering wheels of different colours represented different player IDs and could simply be picked up from the grass to play. We decided not to use a standard gaming console
interface (e.g. Nintendo, Xbox etc) since the aim was to do away with the prevalent (device-centric) perception of technology interaction. By reducing the interface to a semitransparent, non-technological
Plexiglas object, we reduced the technology fear factor to a minimum. The simple turning interaction of the steering wheel was immediately adopted by almost every user.
Text: Michael Wolf
Michael Wolf ,Ivan Pecorari, Scott Chapman, , Warwick de Kock, Craig Pickard
Learning is a Breeze – Formula D Interactive
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