Playing games can make you smarter. It almost sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. The Aarhus-based company Child Experience Design has developed Hopspots, an interactive learning tool, which stimulates and challenges children’s learning through play.
A sultry classroom, pupils slumped over the desks and an immobile hour hand. As a rule, it’s not the most inspiring learning environment for either students or teachers. Danish company Child Experience Design, CxD, has taken bold steps towards changing this image.
“We want to include the children and give them co-ownership of their own learning through movement,” says Aviaja Borup Lynggaard, architect, founder of CxD and inventor of Hopspots.
Hopspots is an interactive learning tool with games and exercises. It consists of 12 interactive spots in different colours and with built-in light. The spots are connected to a speaker system and an iPad. Hopspots combines the digital world with the physical space and focuses on interaction with children, who get to be co-creators of their own educational material. Aviaja Borup Lynggaard created Hopspots more than ten years ago as her graduation project at Aarhus School of Architecture. The goal was to combine activity and digital design.
“I wanted to merge physical movements and digital design, but at that time the technology wasn’t ready for it. We didn’t even have iPads, which are now a vital part of the design,” Aviaja explains.
The project was put to rest after her graduation, but found its way back to Aviaja’s mind in 2014, when a new education reform became effective in Denmark. The reform included longer school days and an increased focus on learning through movement.
“The new education reform embraced more physical activity during the day. It called for Hopspots. And, while I was doing my Ph.D. in interactive design, technology developed massively. So it was just the right time to test it,” she explains.
Danish design with worldwide potential
The Hopspots games can be used both as small breaks and as part of an ongoing study programme. They can be placed either close to each other or up to 20 metres apart depending on the need for movement. Right now, the game selection contains anything from memory games to coding of the spots. What they all share is that they give the pupils the possibility to influence the game by customizing their own exercises. And new Hopspots games are in development.
“We have guaranteed two new games a year. For this school year, we have developed a music game, where you compose your own melody by tapping the different spots and afterwards you can do your own matching choreography,” Aviaja says, and continues by talking about the second new game:
“The second game is made in collaboration with Louis Jensen, a children’s book author. It’s an interactive story, where the children are detectives and must figure out what’s going on in a small village. The Hopspots represent different places in the village and the children have to collaborate to crack the mystery,” she explains.
Even though the sketches for Hopspots were drawn a decade ago, the current design has only been available for a year. It’s mostly used for pre-school and primary-school children, but the design has potential for wider use.
“It has been shown that our memory games work well with elderly people as well; they help them to train and improve their memory, as with the kids,” Aviaja explains and then returns to interesting collaborations for future games:
“We are also always looking for new collaborators. Personally, I would like to do more games about mathematics, geometry and programming. Hopefully they will be ready for the next school year,” she ends.
Hopspots are used at 30 Danish schools, but since the games are easily translated, the digital learning system has worldwide potential. As we speak, Aviaja Borup Lynggaard is working flat out to find the right resellers in Scandinavia and in the long run she hopes to go global.