PLAYFUL LEARNING WITH EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY: THE WENDYTD PROJECT
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Every year in Italy the massive phenomenon of paediatric 'health migration' in the oncology area forces hundreds of thousands of children, teens and their parents into long periods of separation from their home in order to have access to therapies of excellence at highly specialised care centres that can offer hope of recovery. Several associations, trying to meet the needs of establishing a minimum of everyday family life in these difficult situations, provide hospitality nearby the treatment centres. This is the case of the Rome-based onlus association Peter Pan (http://www.peterpanonlus.it) whose mission for 22 years, has precisely been to give back to the small guests the rights denied by the disease, a daily life consisting of play, study, smiles, cheerfulness and an atmosphere of serenity which, for the values it transmits, also contributes to their faster physical and psychological recovery. The energy invested by volunteers in the house, as well as being aimed at animation of the young guests, creates opportunities for them to develop social and educational skills
In 2015 the Onlus Peter Pan and the Institute for Educational Technology of the Italian National Research Council, from within the welcome centre 'The Great House of Peter Pan', launched the WendyTD initiative, which involves several volunteers of the association (the so called “Wendies”), who deal with the playful entertainment of the children in the use of some educational technologies (TD) in playful learning activities
Playful learning (Pasek et al., 2009; Plass et al., 2015) is an educational approach which, through free play (i.e. not included in a decidedly didactic scheme), aims to stimulate new learning. In this sense, the playful activity is encouraged and guided in a discreet way, always in the spirit of entertainment and fun.
This proposed contribution will illustrate the capabilities of the considered technologies (Beebot, Probot, Tablets and IWBs) to implement playful learning during the entertainment of young guests of the houses. In addition, the methods and tools used to monitor the activities of the children will be explained.
Some first evidences will also be presented, in particular how the use of the proposed playful approach and technology allow the children to reach educational goals. This through cooperation and sharing among peers, where younger children learned how to use the technological devices with the support of older children, sometimes triggering a genuine competition. All this enriched by the self-gratification for the autonomous reaching of goals and the consequent sense of self-efficacy.
Finally, the contribution will outline how the initiative will continue in order:
(a) to consolidate the practices put in place in the first year of activity,
(b) to enhance the proposals of playful learning for the young guests of Peter Pan’s Great House.
In this sense, it will be shown the pathway to foster the involvement of the over 14 young people, relying on more advanced technologies and stimulating the computational thinking through the use of robots, 3D printers, holograms, video game editor, etc.
 Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., Berk, L. E., & Singer, D. G. (2009). A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence. Oxford University Press.
 Plass, J.L., Homer, B.D., & Kinzer, C.K. (2014). Playful Learning: An Integrated Design Framework. DOI: 10.13140/2.1.4175.6969
Keywords: Playful learning, tutoring, peer-to-peer, educational technology, children, oncology.