Dekho Pakistan

Dekho Pakistan is a tangible game that introduces basic computational thinking skills to Pakistani government school children. We conducted a research to explore the language barrier while comparing digital and tangible versions of the game at government schools in Pakistan.


UX Researcher, Designer and Developer


August 2018 – November 2018


User Interview, Field Studies, Usability Testing, Cultural Probes, Figma, Adobe Illustrator, HTML5, Javascript


Dr. Suleman Shahid (Supervisor), Tashfeen Ahmed, Rabiah Arshad, Abeera Riaz

The concept behind Dekho Pakistan is to evaluate the knowledge retention in terms of computational thinking and geographical knowledge and compare the impact of learning in Urdu and English. The design is made keeping in mind the target audience, i.e. 10-12 years old kids with little to no prior knowledge about computers.

The game was designed using well known landmarks and cities of Pakistan. The objective of the game was to start at a particular landmark in a particular city and go through different landmarks to reach the already known destination. Both tangible and digital versions of the game had Urdu and English variants.

Problem Statement

Pakistan produces about 445,000 university graduates and 10,000 computer science graduates per year. Despite these statistics, Pakistan still has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world and the second largest out of school population (5.1 million children) after Nigeria.

We talked to students from primary and secondary schools to try to find the challenges they face during their early education. We found out that there is not only poor physical facilities and directionless education but there also exists a disconnect between the primary and secondary school curriculum. We wanted to devise a fun and interactive method to teach computational thinking to children from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

My Role

My role mainly revolved around project management, game design, user experience, and the writing of the script for gameplay. I was part of all the field work that we conducted in government schools.

Our Solution

A board game that challenges children, ages 10-12, to orient tangible, magnetized manipulatives to complete or create paths. We also ran an informal study to investigate the effectiveness of the game in fostering children’s problem-solving capacity during collaborative game play. We used the results to inform our instructional interaction design that we think will better support the learning activities and help children hone the involved CT skills. 

Overall, we believe in the power of such games to challenge children to grow their understanding of CT in a focused and engaging activity.

Timeline

Research

The game featured three levels which taught procedural programming, shortest path algorithm, loops and conditionals. Each player had to lay down cards in a particular order to reach the destination and the time to complete each level was noted. Some of the participants were able to easily complete level 2 once they learnt how the first level worked. Others wanted to play the game again to get a higher score. This demonstrated the interest that the kids took in the game.

Results

Students playing in Urdu had a much better understanding of the game concepts as compared to students playing in English and were able to apply those concepts faster in the game. Moreover, they also found it easier to play and understand tangible board game as compared to non-tangible computer-based game.

Reflection & Takeaways

The study found that due to the unfamiliarity of using computers, tangible computing is a more effective way to introduce computational thinking to children living in rural areas or coming from a low socioeconomic class. As the tangible game was a hands-on experience, children were able to pick up concepts alot faster. Furthermore, children that played the Urdu version of the games were able to complete the levels faster as compared to the children that played the English version. This shows that by bringing a language that the students are more comfortable in improves learning outcomes. Finally, through simple observations, we were able to discover parallels such as personality or gender and how they were affecting the outcomes. For example, boys showed quicker timings when performing the tasks, however girls were quicker in picking up concepts which were verbally taught before the game.