TIDA – Tinkering in the Digital Age

The TIDA research project explores how the interaction between digital technologies and traditional physical materials can foster children’s and adults’ learning through play and tinkering.

2017 - 2019

Historically, people tended to refer to play as something exclusively referred to childhood, associating learning with later stages of life.

Actually, the two concepts are inseparable: there is no play without learning, and viceversa. Being engaged in a playful dimension, where you can express yourself creatively and share your ideas with others, is the basis of human learning. The encounter of the four research partners brought out the need to create new learning possibilities through digital technologies and tinkering.

Cultivating Creativity. Exploring different approaches to creativity, between Handcraft and Digital

In 5 educational spaces in Reggio Emilia the relationship between play and learning is deepened starting from children’s reflections through the use of light play.

The first experiments of the project focused on tinkering experiences through the use of light play, a tool that allows to create light and shadow effects in motion thanks to the programming on a tablet. Children’s thoughts, conversations, and ideas collected during the experiments were food for thought to understand their learning path during the experiences of play and exploration with digital.

“What children learn, is changing rapidly. It’s not memorizing content anymore, it's not facts anymore, is how to learn, being excited about learning.”

“Oftentimes people might think that if I’m told something or if I read about something I might learn it and I know it forever, but I think the importance of play is that allows me to replay my ideas and many times it allows me to physically take action in investigating and constructing and creating and interacting with real materials or with whole body expressions.”

The experiences were different, and they were carried out with children of different ages and different degrees of familiarization with light play and the language used to express itself.

Some in-depth focuses have been identified, among which the development of computational thinking in the relationship between analogue and digital and the ability to identify the technologies explored in other contexts of everyday life.

The TIDA project in numbers:

5 research sites

involved in Reggio Emilia: 2 preschool groups, a primary school class, Spazio Culturale Orologio and the ateliers at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre

75 children

from the schools involved, in addition to the children and young people who participated in the activities organized by Spazio Culturale Orologio and the Cultivating Creativity workshop

+600 people

among teachers, atelieristas, pedagogistas, educators and parents who participated in workshops and seminars on the theme of tinkering

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