Playfulness and Learning

Michelle Levesque recently wrote a post about the importance of play in learning.

We need to change people’s mindsets to make them comfortable fooling around, making things, breaking things, and playing on the web.

I totally agree. This is one of the design goals of the Hackasaurus tools and events, actually—it’s a combination of stylistic touches and emotional design to help people feel that what they’re doing is fun, along with humane functionality that makes experimentation easier, such as infinite undoability.

This is something I feel that Apple has managed to do with their products, too: I see non-technical people like my father who are typically terrified of using their personal computer take joy in installing apps on their iPad and playing with them in a way that they never would have dared to do on their PC. Partly it’s due to concrete features, like the fact that it’s impossible for an app to impair the behavior of another app—but it’s also partly due to stylistic touches, like all the device’s glee-inspiring animations.

It’s ironic that tech-savvy folks like me berate the iPad for its lack of generativity and hackability, yet it manages to orient its users towards a sense of playfulness and empowerment in a way that other tools rarely have.

2 Responses to “Playfulness and Learning”

  1. Mark Surman Says:

    I think you’ve hit on a key here — playfulness not just in learning but also in design.

    Ben makes some other interesting links to Apple here: http://www.benmoskowitz.com/?p=385

    One thing I wonder is how we intentionally build in that playfulness in design while also designing collaboratively w/ the people who will use the software?

    Hackasaurus has done this better than most, but I still think this part is both important and hard.

    Worth putting our brains together on.

  2. Toolness » Blog Archive » Achievement and Playfulness Says:

    [...] You can reach me by sending e-mail to my first name at mozilla dot com, or by yelling at @toolness on Twitter. « Playfulness and Learning [...]