Nov 2015

Andrew Manches: Interaction, Embodiment and Technologies in Early Learning.

Most of us might agree that ‘hands-on learning’ is good for children in the early years. But why? Is it simply more fun and sociable, or are there any more direct cognitive benefits? And what determines definitions of ‘hands-on’? Can we include iPads? This talk will draw upon an ESRC-funded project to examine the educational implications of recent theoretical arguments about the embodied nature of cognition. Video data from the project will be used to illustrate the methodological significance of the way children gesture when describing mathematical concepts and evaluate a hypothesis that numerical development is grounded upon two particular embodied metaphors. If correct, this presents a serious challenge to traditional approaches to the types of learning materials we offer children. The talk then demonstrates two embodied technologies to consider the potential of new forms of digital interaction to further our understanding of embodied cognition as well as support early learning.

Dr Andrew Manches is a Chancellor’s Fellow in the School of Education and leads the Children and Technology group at the University of Edinburgh. He has 20 years experience working with children, first as a teacher, then as an academic. His recent research, funded by an ESRC Future Research Leader grant, focuses on the role of interaction in thinking, and the implications this has for early learning and new forms of technology. When not being an academic, Andrew is a parent of two young children and directs an early learning technology start-up that was awarded a SMART grant this year to build an early years maths tangible technology.

This seminar is part of our ongoing series from researchers in HCI. See here for our current schedule.