Labenah: An Arabic Block-Based Interactive Programming Environment for Children. The Journey of Learning and Playing
From the phone alarm that wakes us up to the social media applications that keep us connected to people around the world, technology became an integral part of our daily life. Recently, communities have realized that coding is an essential skill that everybody should acquire regardless of their age and specialty. Investing in young generations has a profound effect on building communities and their digital capabilities. Coding gives children huge competitive advantages that improve logical thinking, problem solving and encourage creativity. Given the lack of high quality educational programming resources for children especially in Arabic, this could be a challenging process.
Labenah is an Arabic edutainment application that provides children with an interactive environment to learn coding principles. It adopts block-programming where visual blocks are built together to control objects and create scenarios. Among all other existing applications, Labenah considers gamification and other important concepts that motivate children to practice important skills through an enjoyable journey between learning and playing. Children can create their own media-rich projects and undertake multi-level challenges to practice important programming concepts. Attracting such a young age requires extensive validation and user involvement; therefore the team adopted User-Centered Design (UCD) development model where potential users and stakeholders are actively engaged during each phase of the development. We discuss the participatory design approach that we followed while developing Labenah and how it affected the outcomes. Children, parents, and teachers were involved through semi-structured interview and observation sessions and surveys. Design considerations to be taken into account while designing for children are also discussed.
KeywordsBlock-programming Children Edutainment User-centered design
We would like to thank Riyadh Center for Talented Students in the Ministry of Education for the opportunity to join one of their courses to observe and interview children, teachers and parents. We are also really thankful to all the individuals and organizations who helped us to reach this aim.
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