Pupils help develop e-desks for children displaced by conflict

Pupils in Sudan using the Can't Wait to Learn Programme

Pocklington School pupils are supporting the scaling up of War Child Holland's Can't Wait to Learn programme in Sudan, by taking part in a design research study carried out by Sheffield Hallam University.

If children displaced by conflict can continue their education at all, it is often through using hand-held digital tablet devices whilst they’re sitting on a floor. The university researchers are examining the posture and comfort issues associated with floor-sitting and tablet device use, to help them determine the optimal height for a new, low-cost digital tablet desk.

Year 7 pupils have volunteered to help the ergonomic study by being photographed sitting on the floor using a tablet, as well as using digital tablet desk prototypes. They were then asked for their own opinions on the comfort, design and usability of the desks. Many prototypes have also been tested in Sudan (see link, below).

Steve Ellis, Head of Design at Pocklington School, said: “Our students have benefited from taking part in the study because it’s given them an insight into human-centred design methods. It’s also increased their awareness of how projects at a university close to home can have a very real positive impact across the world.”

The Sheffield Hallam University study is being carried out in association with War Child Holland, which is scaling up its Can’t Wait to Learn (CWTL) programme in conflict-ridden Sudan. CWTL is funded by UNICEF, Google and the UK’s Department for International Development and has already been recognised by an education innovation award from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). 

Researchers protected the anonymity of pupils by taking photos from the side and blanking out their faces. External presentations will only show an ergonomic sketch of the child’s posture.

Dr David Swann, Professor in Design at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We’re very pleased that Pocklington School agreed to ask their pupils to contribute to this important and extremely useful study.

“We’re interested in the posture of school pupils in Year 7 because they mirror the age and anthropometric profile of the children who take part in the CWTL e-learning programme in Sudan. They will be the end users of our novel digital tablet desk, which will be manufactured locally.”

The school will be provided with a report summarising the study’s key findings and the results may also be written up for academic publication, Dr Swann said.

See War Child Holland’s CWTL scheme in action, with some prototype desks:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50Sn70Uf-vw