Family Activities during Covid-19

How to Learn at Home without Tech!

As we continue to push on through the storm, this month we will focus less on the power of technology and more on the power we all have as family members and friends. How can we cope without AR / VR / iPhones, and Xboxes?  


As stated in previous blog posts around artificial intelligence, while technologies certainly exceed human efforts in certain mundane tasks, it is still a far way off from human creativity and compassion.  


By our nature, we are social creatures creating relationships with the world around us – and that world has always featured dramatic change. A song “on the radio” can evoke memories experienced with others and even give you goosebumps when you hear it. The same goes for a special meal or place. A video on YouTube can help us create something new. Platforms change and evolve, it’s clear that we must as well. Today, and for the near future we are asked to interact with one another out of the “norm” and it isn’t necessarily easy. How might we adapt to the new normal without leaning so heavily on technology?


We can rely on being human. This means we can reflect on what has shaped us until this point.  We know our strengths and weaknesses. We are confident in teaching skills that we’ve mastered over time, and terrified of the mathematics we’ve forgotten since our time in K-12.  How can that be applied to those near us during this time of uncertainty?  

There are a few human-centered design methods that may help draw out our super powers and that of those around us. Use Post-its or pencil and paper or a digital tool like Google JamBoard to record results.


Rose, Thorn, Bud. When working with your family member on a project, reflect on it. Ask yourself and anyone involved the following: What were the highlights? What parts were a success and what did you learn (Rose)?  What were the challenges? In what area could you benefit from having support? (Thorn) What are you looking forward to exploring now? Who/what can provide you the support needed to continue? (Bud) List each individually.  


Affinity Clustering. This one is easy and you can even make a game out of it (add incentive to having “the most”). In a strict 5 minutes and in silence write down as many interests, skills, and areas you want to develop more, again on individual lines / Post-its. After the 5 minutes, see how many are up and start to cluster them by theme. You should see commonalities and areas where you might apply your “super power” to the benefit of another.  


Luxury Analysis. Using the above methods plot out an X / Y graph w/ “0,0” being lowest luxury (cost: whether it be mental, financial, physical) / lowest impact (achieving set goals). From the clustering exercise, map out which content areas rank in at highest impact / interest and lowest cost and get to it! From there you can rinse and repeat to hopefully achieving the luxury / impact objectives.


TL;DR – At the end of the day, we’re always going to be human and interact with others. In the current situation we’re facing some interesting constraints. Remember, technologies are tools best used for their intended purposes and don’t often serve as a panacea.Take time to map out what you’re good at and what folks around you are really interested in. Human-centered design methods like those above can reduce barriers to reaching some goals and objectives for learning at home.


John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.