The Co-creation with the City of Espoo Learning Environments programme was presented to the UK delegation as part of the xEDU’s XcitED event. The concept seemed to be great one that would help teachers, and therefore children, but also help the commercial partner develop the best possible product with a focus-group of end-users helping to shape the development. Action Mats therefore applied for the programme in December immediately after returning to the UK. The programme requires partner educational establishments so, once the Action Mats application was evaluated, and approved, the programme needed to reach out to schools across the city to find partners.
Our objective was to develop a set of smaller ‘exercise and learning mats’ that are linked to our mats for seven to twelve-year-old. The new range would feature age-appropriate challenges and actions for preschool children. Early Years is a very specialist area and having teachers assist in advice and suggestions would be invaluable. The mat designs were largely complete but the activity pack that ensures best practice use of the mats was missing. This was the part that needed expert input.
Covid19 changed everybody’s plans and became a bigger issue than anyone anticipated, especially in the UK. We therefore had to change plans so that each meeting was via Teams. This worked very well although, it is never as good as meeting people face to face. Action Mats submitted a plan for our aspirations from the programme and the teachers set to work. Each month we had a check-in meeting (via Teams) and each month ideas would flow. During the summer break I set the teachers some homework to do some sketches of ideas but I think the lakes and the cabins were too enjoyable as there were no sketches when we reconvened in September. In September however, following the meeting, I felt that we now had enough ideas to start creating artwork for designs from. The initial sketches were uploaded to the Teams folder and some comments came back to help shape them further. A final set of sketches was uploaded in October, and I hope to have another check-in meeting in November to discuss how the teachers feel we have interpreted their suggestions and whether they are happy to approve the resource now. I would like to thank them for taking time out form their busy schedules to assist Action Mats with the development of our Mini Mats.
Written by: Jonathan Bhowmick / Action Mats