PoLPs (work in progress)

Many kids find math disconnected from their everyday life. Math word problems intensify this belief because, very often, they are about topics kids do not relate to. In an era of video games and social media in which creativity is a cherised learning outcome, almost all problems a student encounters have been formulated by another person.

In this ongoing project i am trying to explore ways of giving agency to students providing the affordances to create, share, solve and correct their own math homework.


This project is based on different research grounds:

  • situated theories of learning aiming to create a community of practice around homework.
  • math problem posing: a form of creative activity that can operate within tasks involving structured “rich contexts” using real life artifacts and human interactions
  • mobile learning; learning that occur through different contexts of time, topic and space.

The research phase was completed with teachers and students interviews about their pros and cons concerning homework.


To generate ideas that were relevant to kids I run two participatory design workshops with 10-11 year old kids and after analysing and categoising their creations I came to the following idea:

PoLPs (Possibility Of Learning Places) is a digital space (a community of practice) for kids to learn from each other about math but based on the world around them.
There are two possibilities for people to participate:

  • Find, Create and Publish geolocalized (math) content using photo (or video in future prototypes). That content can be edited and elaborated later by anyone in the network; drawing and writing on it. 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 situations of their favourite interests and upload them. Kids share their homework problems linked to real places and situations relevant to them.
  • Solve or correct POLPs by other classmates. 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.

The prototype

sketches of taking a picture to create a visual problem (left) and adding graphics and text on top of the picture taken (right)

After some preliminary user tests, I developed  a paper prototype on Adobe XD for better understanding of the different possibilities.

Unfortunately, since it is not possible to take a real picture to create a problem, the experience of this prototype was very limited for the users.

first paper prototype on Adobe XD

Latest prototype (in progress)

In order to provide a better experience of the concept a working prototype was developed on the Ionic framework. This first video fragment shows how a student can create (and automatically share) a visual word problem. There are three tasks involved: (1) login in, (2) taking a picture for the visual problem and (3) adding the word problem and additional graphics to make it clearer to understand.

This second fragment shows the interface for (1) exploring in a map existing problems created by other classmates, (2) selecting and opening a problems solving other classmates’ created problems

Next steps

This prototype still needs to be tested with real students and teachers. From their feedback new refinements will come. For example, one improvement already suggested by a teacher would be that the app recognizes the picture and offers the possibility to select an existing word problem related to that picture.

About me


Hi, I am an intreaction designer with a background in Computer Science and Visual Communication. Research through design, ethnography design and participatory design are my main methods of working.

I have a passion for designing learning experiences <nd making visible the invisible.