PoLPs (work in progress)

Can we connect schools formal learning with kids daily lives?, can we make children look at the world instead of looking at a screen? Can homework be fun and meaningful?

PoLPs project site


The POLP (Possibility Of Learning Places) network is a digital space for kids to learn from each other about math but based on the world around them.
There will be basically two possibilities for people to play in this network:

  • Find, Create and Publish geolocalized (math) content using photo or video. That content can be edited and elaborated later by anyone in the network; drawing and writing on it, tagging it (3 max) and classifying it for a targeted age range. It is an instance or example of a math problem, concept, term or topic. So for example, imagine you are a teacher explaining multiplication to your students and, as homework, you ask them to take pictures or sounds, etc. from their surroundings that are an example of multiplication. Students could take pictures of the windows of an office building or a fragment of electronic music and upload them (tagging, commenting and targeting them). Kids share their homework problems linked to real places and situations relevant to them.
  • Scan the area where you are and find POLPs by other group and classmates. Of course, you could also be automatically notified if you wanted so. Instead of doing homework sitting in your room, you go out and find problems your classmates have created and get points solving, correcting and improving other kids problems.

POLPS can be graded and ranked.

Video Scenario


The goal of the network is to create local, situated/connected learning communities that explore and inquiry the world around them. The drive is to connect what children learn in school with their everyday lives providing the opportunity for homework that is creative and outdoors. The communities are formed by teachers and students in a certain class in a certain grade in a real school. Parents and other agents in the neighborhood could join.

Some key aspects a) technology (cell phone) is used to explore the world around. Normally, kids use technology in an isolating way. The screen becomes their world. We try to make kids look around, be curious and create questions. b) the network is created by people who know each other and who see each other in real life on a daily basis. c) creativity and collaboration are rewarded more than competition.

Knowledge is created by the interaction of kids between them and with their world.

The tool promotes social media creation and communication skills apart from being based in inquiring the world.

Children work in groups of three to four members.

Groups are organized within classes, within schools, so there is a growing hierarchy and challenges range from the individual level up to the  highest level (person, group, class, grade, school, district…)

Teachers (and parents?) can also participate creating problems. Ideally, people around school (little shops and other agents in the neighborhood) could also join.

Process so far…

This is an overview of some of the steps in my participatory design process including rapid prototyping, user research, workshops and tests. A blog about the project can be visited in more detail here.


  • create an example (picture or video) from their context that is related with what they are studying at school (2p)
  • create a problem for an example (3p)
  • solve problems without help (1p)
  • help other kids to solve problems (2p)
  • correct mistakes in other kids problems (2p)
  • ask for help and acknowledge help received (.5p)
  • the problems they have created are not solved by people from other groups (3p)
  • problems are “liked” because they are fun or smart or special (3p)
  • they “like” a problem from another group (1p)
  • create/share/choose web resources that are related (1p) and liked (2p)
  • they solve problems where they were created (2p) (?)
  • they create problems that are far from the usual place (2p) (?)


  • they have made three mistakes (1p)
  • they cannot solve a problem they have created (2p)
  • they do not create a minimum number (3) of problems per week (1p) (?)
  • they do not solve a minimum number of problems (5) per week (1p) (?)
  • they create a problem that is wrong (cannot be solved) (1p)


The points of a group are basically the sum of the points of the people in that group. If the difference in  points is not bigger than a certain percentage (20%?) the group gets extra points (10p).


Teachers or winning groups can establish missions that are defined by a topic of interest (sports, cooking, speed, clash royale, stars wars, etc.) a time period (a week) and a minimum number of points per group.


Kids get badges every certain number of points or after a level of difficulty is mastered.

When they get a new badge, they have some  privilege like establishing the theme of the next week.


Problems are categorized by their context, grade, (reference to the curriculum) and type/level. There are three types of problems (normal, too many data, and no data). These three types of problems correspond to levels of abstraction and therefore after children have a number of points (25p) on a level, they get a badge and upgrade to a higher level.

Problems are created with photo, video and audio or text. Drawings (on top of the picture) can also be added.

There is a database of example problems (text) that can be used to get ideas to create real contextual problems.


Teachers get detailed reports on the work of every student.

The reports give the usual quantitative information about academic achievement. But also (qualitatively rich?) info about creativity (problems created, problems liked), collaboration (mistakes corrected) mentoring others (help given), difficulties (help asked/received) and motivation (global activity on the network).