Today, Maria talks with Sonia Tiwari, a learning scientist and, currently, a PhD candidate in the Learning, Design, and Technology program at Penn State University. In her research, Sonia explores how children learn in informal environments using educational media and maker activities. Through her training in electronic media, design and animation and former experience as a visual, game & user experience designer, Sonia brings unique insights and perspectives into the design of creative learning environments. Parents will learn many educational media resources and good practices to help them design engaging learning activities for their children at home. This is an insightful conversation with a visual designer and learning scientist who wants to put a smile on the face of learners by designing resources that are useful, beautiful, playful and funny!
Today, Maria talks with Sonia Tiwari, a learning scientist and PhD candidate in Learning, Design, and Technology at Penn State University. Through her research, Sonia explores how children learn in informal environments using educational media and maker activities. She uses these insights to inform the design of creative learning environments, be it a classroom, a summer camp or a maker workshop.
Trained in electronic media, design and animation, she worked as a visual, game & user experience designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through her experience in educational games, she discovered the beauty of learning science and found her calling in early childhood education research.
If you are a parent, you will learn a plethora of educational media resources to help you design the best learning activities for your children at home.
If you are an industry designer, you will be inspired by Sonia’s journey that will offer you insights on how to explore and design a career path in game-based learning both in formal and informal environments.
And if you are a professor in higher education, Sonia has a request and a call-to-action for you: when you are looking for a grad student, please be open-minded and welcome people with different backgrounds.
This is a wonderful conversation with a visual designer and learning scientist who wants to put a smile on the face of learners by designing resources that are useful, beautiful, playful and funny!
Where to find more about Sonia Tiwari:
Visual Design Portfolio
Mentioned in this episode:
Curious George on PBS KIDS
Peg + Cat on PBS KIDS
Resources for Parents on PBS KIDS
iNaturalist by National Geographic
Why Game Designers & Game Researchers Should Meet More Often
Can Color Influence Learning?
Listen to this episode and explore:
How Sonia embraced her curiosity and creativity in high school (4:10)
Studying electronic media in India and character animation at the Academy of Art in San Francisco (6:32)
Being supported by her family to pursue her creative endeavors to (8:07)
Coming to the US to specialize in animation before working in the game industry (9:26)
Reflecting on the skills, Sonia developed as a visual and game designer (11:45)
How Sonia describes herself in one word (14:00)
Her decision to pursue her PhD in Learning, Design and Technology at Penn State University (14:42)
Sonia’s research in exploring children’s learning experiences using educational media (16:06)
How to assess that their children are learning through media engagement (19:21)
Examples of learning environments that Sonia designed in classroom and summer camp (21:42)
How Sonia incorporates her creative skills into the design of informal learning environments (25:24)
The challenges that academic researchers face while designing educational games (27:07)
How traditional instructional designers can leverage the wealth of creative designers in the industry (30:22)
Insights and resources for parents to help them design a learning environment at home (33:13)
Sonia’s ideas for designers who want to innovate in the future of learning from home (35:04)
How to design engaging maker activities online plus one example from Sonia (36:51)
How to embrace storytelling in the design of learning experiences (39:25)
The role of age and culture in how children engage with educational media (41:48)
How Sonia’s son brings new meaning and contributes to her research (44:37)
Challenges and opportunities in the future of early childhood education; the role of practitioners and researchers (46:08)
The need to create opportunities for industry designers who want to build a career in Education (51:38)
What Sonia wants to leave her mark on within her lifetime (55:31)
Host & Producer: Maria Xenidou
Introduction Voice: David Bourne
Like Lee performed by The Mini Vandals
Transition sounds: Swamp Walks performed by Jingle Punks