Digital play as learning material for children and the elderly

The Playful Learning Centre is developing learning materials for export and the future. It was established in cooperation with its partners, kindergartens, schools and companies.

Set up in connection with the Department of Teacher Education, the Playful Learning Centre will open its doors at the beginning of August. The Centre is designed to be adaptable, but its work will not be limited by the walls of its office. Instead, the concept can be easily applied almost anywhere.

Several kindergartens, schools and businesses from the Greater Helsinki Area have been pleased to join in the Centre’s work even before its official opening.

The Centre aims to develop research-based learning solutions and to support Finnish teacher education. At the launch stage, the main focus will be on pre-primary and primary education, but many of the practices being developed are applicable elsewhere – like the project in which the elderly explain their childhood games to children, who then code them into computer games.

Partner businesses use the Centre to produce new learning materials and tools for mobile learning.

Digital demand around the world

Playful learning means imagination, enthusiasm, motivation, activity and lifelong learning, list the Centre’s professors Kristiina Kumpulainen (pictured at left) and Lasse Lipponen (right) with Sara Sintonen, researcher of media education and didactics.

The intention is to extend the Centre’s social impact beyond the borders of Finland. According to Kumpulainen, there is an increasing and hitherto largely untapped global demand for digital solutions that support learning and wellbeing among children and the elderly.

”Despite the drop in our PISA ranking, Finnish education is a major player on the global stage. Finland has extremely strong expertise in education and games, and when combined, they provide an ideology of lifelong play,” states Kristiina Kumpulainen.

Art and social sciences

The Centre is not based on an existing model, and the researchers want, above all, to make it a living organisation: one that experiments, is fast, agile and open to the new. The intention is to bring its playful learning products and services into homes and society on a broad scale, so partners in different fields are needed.

The Department of Teacher Education and the whole Faculty of Behavioural Sciences are currently conducting negotiations on many fronts. In addition to the University’s social and computer scientists, cooperation is being sought with Aalto University researchers. The founders of the Centre hope to combine business activities with artistic and social perspectives.

One of the Centre’s most important partners is game developer Rovio, and one of the key funders is Tekes.