We all have relationship to design. Living our lives in close connection to designed objects, services and interfaces is a lifelong journey. Through design we can participate and learn, as well as communicate our identities and status in society (Mattelmäki 2006, 24; Vira 2004, 14).
Design, as creative human activity, holds unique potential to develop our everyday environment in numerous levels.

“The basic idea of design and design-driven education is that students and teachers participate together in the planning, implementation and evaluation of learning projects. It emphasises the comprehensive, phenomena-based and creative nature of learning and recognises that ICT can enhance these kinds of learning processes.” (Heikkilä A.S., Vuopala. E. & Leinonen, T, 2017).”


Visiting Aalto Fablab 2017, 3D scanning kindergarten teacher

This Design-based research (DBR) study explores pedagogical aspects of design in real-life educational context by conducting several iterative design experiments highlighting participatory design in pedagogical development and creative use of technology.


Visiting Aalto Fablab 2017, lasercutting children’s photos

The first design experiment (2017) applies participatory design to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) context to investigate participatory design in pedagogy development. Particular emphasis is in developing pedagogical use of digital tools. The adopted design model is Edukata (Toikkanen, Keune, & Leinonen, 2015) in which participatory design is employed to engage teachers, children and other stakeholders to collaboratively develop everyday pedagogical practises and learning activities. The sub-study is conducted in kindergarten as part of Insights into Early Childhood Education-project. Partners are City of Helsinki, University of Helsinki and Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

The second design experiment: (2017-2018) +Andscape explores the pedagogical opportunities of augmented reality sandbox. Originally, AR sandbox was developed at UC Davis (Woods, 2016) and it was designed to allow its users to create topographic models by shaping sand. +Andscape makes it possible to touch, to squeeze, to mold, to pile and to dig digitally augmented material. Children can dig, build, make sounds, document and share their digital creations with others. Thus we can explore new ways to bring digital world into children’s creative grasp.
Pedagogical content is developed in participatory design process, in which kindergarten teachers, pedagogical staff from Designmuseum and local library together with pedagogical specialists from City of Helsinki are involved in scenario-based pedagogy development.

+Andscape installation is produced in co-operation with City of Helsinki: Insights into Early Childhood Education-project and Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture and Aalto Fablab.

+Andscape at Designmuseum, Helsinki 2017


Heikkilä, A-S., Vuopala, E. & Leinonen, T. (2017). Design-driven education in primary and secondary school contexts. A qualitative study on teachers’ conceptions on designing, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2017.1322529

Mattelmäki, T. (2006). Muotoiluluotaimet, Teknologiateollisuus ry, Tammerpaino, Tampere

Toikkanen, T., Keune, A & Leinonen, T. (2015). Designing Edukata, a Participatory Design Model for Creating Learning Activities. teoksessa L. A. Frans Van Assche, & C. L. David Griffiths (Toimittajat), Re-engineering the Uptake of ICT in Schools (Sivut 41-58). Springer International Publishing.

Vira, R & Ikonen, P. eds. (2004). Esineet esiin! -Näkökulmia muotoilukasvatuksen, Taiteen keskustoimikunta, Valtion muotoilutoimikunta

Woods, T. L. (2016). Pilot Study Using the Augmented Reality Sandbox to Teach Topographic Maps and Surficial Processes in Introductory Geology Labs. Journal of Geoscience Education, 64(3), pp. 199-214.