Gadget-free interactivity

    Once I was lucky to get to VDNH, to the exposition of the Polytechnic Museum. It was about 5 years ago, and at that time, perhaps, it was the most interesting interactive exhibition of all that I had seen. But as a self-respecting exhibition is supposed, it gave an impetus to reflection - what is interactivity, and was this exhibition truly interactive? Let's try to figure it out.

    The word "interactive" suggests that if something interacts with something, then everything is in order, there is interaction.

    But if you look closely ...


    There were such interactive guides at the exhibition. Standing on a large yellow cross on the floor, you could activate a video recording in which famous people talked about the nearest exhibits. Interactively? Of course. But what exactly? The answer is simple: the guide activation process is interactive here. The guide itself is easily replaced with a sheet of text. That is, the box is changing, and the contents are the good old “look to the left, look to the right”.

    But since a person came to a science museum, most likely, he still wants to learn something. But this is more complicated.

    One of the best explanations for the essence of interactive learning is based on the direction of information flows:

    1. If the information flows are outgoing, this is an inactive learning. A strict lady with a pointer in her hand, explaining something to the students in a ringing silence, is in a very advantageous position for the student. Yes, yes, this is useful primarily for herself, since when explaining to others, she can better understand the issue she teaches. If the lady will be kind enough and give the student the opportunity to explain something to other students, then this student will receive a profit from this kind of training.
    2. If the information flows are incoming, then this is extraactive learning. Frozen students from the strict lady class are in this situation. Such learning is aptly called sometimes passive, since learning is a consequence of the activity of the environmental pointer .
    3. If information flows circulate in the student’s head without going beyond its limits, this is active (internal) learning. This happens while reading, for example.
    4. If the information flows are two-way, then this is just the interactive learning. The student acts in a constantly changing subject-object relation to the learning system, periodically becoming its autonomous element. So on the crest of a wave of pedagogical fashion today, Socrates talks with his students about the meaning of life and in general.

    How in practice to create such a direction of information flows? This is achieved if almost all students are involved in the process of collective interaction, have the ability to understand and reflect on what they know and think, if everyone shares knowledge, ideas, ways of working in an atmosphere of goodwill and cooperation. The central activator of the cognition process is the personal life experience of the participants. Interactive learning excludes the dominance of both one speaker and one opinion over another, and allows using the synergy property: the intellectual strength of a group of students is greater than the sum of the strengths of its members. An atmosphere of competition is not excluded.

    In order to explain how personal life experience can (and should) be taken into account for the organization of interactive learning, let me remind you of another important concept: “zone of proximal development” .


    The “zone of proximal development” is determined by the content of those tasks that the child cannot yet solve on his own, but is able to solve in conjunction with an adult. What is initially available for the child under the guidance of adults then becomes his own possession (skills, abilities).

    That is, if we explain interactively about the signs of the seasons to a 15-year-old teenager and the structure of the atomic nucleus to a 5-year-old child, then we will be far beyond the zone of proximal development in both the first and second cases.

    Now let’s take a fresh and armed look at the interactive exhibits of the exhibition.


    Here's a little task for you: try to imagine this exhibit through the eyes of a girl in pink. Do you need comments? I think no. Did online learning happen? And here it is! To stand on tiptoe, to reach the button, not to miss, press the button and get a ridiculous result - all this is quite part of its zone of proximal development.

    So it's not so bad. If there are many visitors, then there will always be someone whose zone of proximal development will somehow fit into the proposed landscape.

    Now we come to the most important thing. If the goal of the exhibition is training and not the “wow” effect of interactive activation of exhibits, how can this be achieved?

    The answer is this: you need to create an interactive learning system that, after activation, starts the process of transitioning the zone of proximal development to the current one, offering the child questions that interest him and helping him (personally or collectively) find answers to them.

    That is, the task is not to give out ready-made information, but to take information, isolate from it a debatable question, which is desirable with difficulty, but is able to answer. If it is too simple - boring, too difficult - also boring. In no case should one lose the attention and interest of a child; for this, questions should not remain unanswered. Dead ends in the discussion must be avoided by the time (not too early and not too late) offering clues.

    Bad question example: Is the three-letter code used to encode proteins universal? This question assumes either the presence or absence of knowledge, no more. Those students who know the answer will feel themselves on a horse, those who do not know, under a horse. The abilities of each will remain the same. Perhaps even the students under the horse, upset by such a small humiliation, will try to reduce the significance of this event by throwing it out of their heads or deciding that it was not so important for them.

    Good question example: How can the universality of the three-letter protein coding code prove that we are all descendants of the same cell? Information will be received approximately equivalent. But in the process of discussion, the knowledge that has just been acquired (and already available) will be applied, logical chains will be built, the personal significance of the issue will provide interest. Efforts to find an answer and pleasant memories of how, finally, managed to find a solution, will increase the chance that all this will not fly out of my head.

    Clearly, discussion questions have nothing to do with testing. The result of interactive learning is the development of a child's intellectual and communicative abilities. The result of testing is the sorting of children into fit and apparently unfit.

    In my practice, in order to make the issue debatable, I use four basic techniques for transforming educational information into a research question. The essence of the tricks is to show a perspective based on dynamics and contrast:

    1. change of subject in time (past / future)
    2. change of subject in space (change of nature from north to south)
    3. internal diversity (variety of species)
    4. change in size (macro / micro)

    For example: what of what is shown in the figure can be viewed with a microscope? In each subsequent picture, an object or creature is 10 times larger than the previous one. The first thing that comes to mind when answering is different microscopic objects and creatures - blood cells, poppy seeds, etc. But who said that the Earth cannot be seen through a microscope? Or that the proton will be visible through a microscope?


    By the way, if we talk about organizing an interactive space in a school (in my case, in additional education), then often a bunch of pieces of paper successfully replace an interactive whiteboard.

    For example, here's a question for kids: who lives in the house? (not dogs / cats, but any less expected creatures - ticks, flies, mosquitoes, spiders, etc.). On the interactive whiteboard you can put such an illustration and ask everyone to find and name:


    And you can draw or print all these creatures on small pieces of paper and hide them in the study room. Moth in a fur coat, a cockroach under the crust of bread, a spider in a corner, etc. Children will like much more to look for everyone in 3d space.

    You can read more about the details of transforming information into questions in a previous article .

    Back to the guide of the technical exhibition. Why am I getting so close to him? The exhibition can be great. The best minds of mankind reveal the secrets of the universe and on the saucers with a blue border present the fruits of their ingenious insights. These discoveries will now remain with us, in all the splendor of their completeness, thoughtfulness, and proof. But will a casual passerby be ready to realize what is thrown at his feet?
    We cannot know this in advance. Everyone will come with a different level of training. And what we can do to ensure that knowledge nevertheless reaches the child is to compose and solve a simple equation.


    1. the amount of visitors with a very different zone of proximal development. Age is not a great helper here, as practice shows, there is no simple correlation between age and the level of interests and knowledge.
    2. scientific truths are constant. It is what it is
    3. guide entertaining visitors

    Obviously, the guide is a variable that allows (in theory) to balance the possibilities of understanding a person who came by chance (or not by chance) and the level of complexity of scientific exhibits.

    And now the question is interesting: who or what can be such a guide?

    I think it’s obvious that they cannot be a simple audio, video or paper guide, since they are the same for everyone, the level is set in advance. They do not include the possibility of interaction and adjustment to the level of the visitor.

    With a person, everything is also not easy. Scanning the level of each visitor, the constant organization of interactive training, based on the data just received - this, of course, is very cool. But I can hardly imagine a person who works as a guide 8 hours a day, serving 5-6 groups of visitors and coming up with exactly the situations that are needed. That is, this is possible in theory, but it will require the highest scientific and pedagogical qualification of the guide, an incredible exertion of strength and iron endurance (someone in response to all this fountain of knowledge can even smear a sneak on his pants). Although the interactivity of such an amazing guide will provide at the highest level, and without any gadgets.

    The conclusion is that, perhaps, artificial intelligence could cope best with the task of a superguide. However, teaching such an AI to expressly determine the level of knowledge and interests of a visitor in a pleasant conversation, to build a chain of questions and tips that will lead to an understanding of the scientific essence of the exhibits is a completely different story.

    Instead of an epilogue

    A bad question:
    - Who knows how words were written in Phenicia? Is anyone No one?
    In Phenicia, only consonants were used to record words. The meaning of vowels was left to the reader's understanding, that is, the basis of this understanding was assumed as a hidden background, the general life experience of all those who used this writing.
    Good question:
    - Imagine that you are a Phoenician and read that welfare.

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