Playlist Cover Image

Playlists for Learning

Designing and testing digital learning experiences for teens
See the Experiences
  • Client:
  • Services:
    Concept, Design, Management, Videographer
  • Funder:
    Digital Media and Learning Competition 6; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

BPOC was considering playlists as a model for promoting curiosity and content discovery as part of the Lost in Balboa Park project. BPOC saw natural connections with what the Digital Media and Learning Competitions and the LRNG platform had in mind for Playlists for Learning. Working with Fleet Science Center, Museum of Photographic Arts, and San Diego Air and Space Museum, BPOC helped design, develop and test online learning experiences for teens centered around the Art and Science of Vision.

When thinking about ideas for online learning experiences, BPOC reached out to museums in Balboa Park with varied disciplines. They asked the institutions to think about areas of content intersection, the Fleet Science Center, Museum of Photographic Arts, and San Diego Air and Space Museum each identified use of vision as a tool as a common element. They began planning lessons around this subject area.

Meanwhile, BPOC turned to its partners in local schools and designed a series of design-thinking based focus groups for teens in grades nine through twelve, intended to answer a few big questions: What sort of games and activities hold teen interest? What types learning activities would they have the resources to complete? What type of reward or credentialing would motivate them to complete a playlist? Many participants mentioned a strong preference for video and photographic content over audio or text-based content. Another large theme that surfaced was the need for social interaction. Teens wanted ways to engage and compete with peers who were also using the platform.

Brainstorming students

Based on the feedback from teens, BPOC decided to rely on video, as much as possible, to convey information and instructions in our playlists. BPOC helped each organization give their videos a unique feel that captured their organizational identity and appealed to young audiences. The Fleet videos achieve an energetic "Bill Nye the Science Guy" quality, complete with jaunty sound effects. The MOPA videos feel like a series of engaging TedTalks. The SDASM videos capture all the excitement of aviation action films, while remaining educational. Each museum has a unique style, but their videos have been designed to fit together, creating diverse, yet cohesive learning experiences. Many of the videos feature famous Balboa Park locations as backdrops and expose different aspects of how vision works and how we make it work for us. BPOC wrote playlist text text supports, complements, and reinforces the information in the videos. Drawing on the teen feedback that they'd like content to be useful to their future education and careers, BPOC emphasized the way that understanding sight fits into careers from arts to astronomy. To increase accessibility In the binational city of San Diego, BPOC also created Spanish language versions of all its playlists.

In addition to videos, the project team collaborated on a stop-motion animation and a video game that highlights aerial targeting from a peaceful perspective, as learners make calculations to complete aerial drops in different life-saving ways. The San Diego Air and Space Museum’s education team developed an in-depth game script that supplies scenarios from various points in aviation history, from delivering rations to the "lost battalion" of doughboys in WWI Germany to dropping water to fight forest fires in modern-day California. BPOC designed and created this game in a way that captured both the scientific concepts and historical background and used a fun classic gaming-inspired visual language.

Students user testing

BPOC brought our final draft of content to students in the classroom for testing. Their creativity shined as they created their own stop motion animation videos and optical illusion photos. It is hard to beat moments when teens said, "Our math teacher is going to be so excited that we found a use for parabolas," while making a camera obscura, or, "If school was like this every day, I'd actually want to come."

We are honored to have been involved in this exploratory phase of online learning playlists. This type of interdisciplinary learning fits well with the structures and resources of the museums in Balboa Park. We have seen so much progress in the short time of our involvement, and are excited to look for ways to sustain and expand our playlists program and see what the future holds these promising new learning experiences.