“Storytelling is one of the most human and powerful forms of explaining complex situations.” – Eva Dominguez
Students of the digital era are preparing themselves for an increasingly connected world, which enables them to work from anywhere, to be curious and savvy about current affairs, to adapt constantly and hone their skills for jobs that don’t exist yet. Digital competency is with no doubt a vital skill to have, but what is equally important is the ability to interact with data and information in an effectively and efficiently.
Eva Dominguez is Founder and Director of MINUSHU, a start-up devoted to creating innovative storytelling experiences with AR and VR technologies, and Creator of NUSHU, an animated adventures series on international current affairs which uses augmented reality and virtual reality technologies to present global news stories to children. Dominguez believes that children should have the same “right to access information as adults” and that the best way to engage them in their world is to tell stories and narratives in an engaging and compelling way.
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Eva Dominguez to talk about the new age of storytelling in the digital era.
Eva, what research have you done on the impact of using AR technology with 8-to 12-year-olds? What have you learned? How does it enhance the user’s experience?
Our team at NUSHU has conducted two types of research since our conception in 2016. The first research is an ethnographic research study conducted with our initial clients, which lasted for the entire school year. This project helped with our understanding of how exactly NUSHU would be implemented in a live classroom setting. For the second round of research, we created a pilot for 60 teachers to use for 3 months. The teachers then evaluated our pilot and we continue to use these evaluations to better craft our product.
How can a virtual character like NUSHU help to narrow the “skills gap” and even the “global citizen gap”?
Storytelling is one of the most human and powerful forms of explaining complex situations. Through the virtual character of NUSHU, it becomes a fun and interactive method of learning for children. NUSHU is a series of adventures for an extraterrestrial that has been tasked on a mission to understand humanity and to come up with possible solutions to the problems that will be left for future generations on earth. At NUSHU, we emphasize media literacy and critical reasoning on global issues. It teaches empathy for other nations’ problems and imparts understanding and respect towards other cultures, which will increase children’s understanding of foreign places.
“We have found that through the conversational nature of NUSHU, students are rendered the opportunity to reflect on what they are taking in and then apply it to their curriculum.” – Eva Dominguez
How are teachers using NUSHU within curriculum? Do you have an example?
Each of our missions provides different opportunities within the curriculum. An example that comes to mind is when one of our teachers needed to implement a Digital Health segment into their classroom. We had multiple missions like deterring Fake News and defining Digital Privacy that were applicable to the topic the teacher wished to cover. And through our teaching guides, they had supplemental materials at their fingertips ready to be applied in a classroom setting. Through our teaching guides, we encourage activities like experiments, projects, debates, plays, and further research. We have found that through the conversational nature of NUSHU, students are given the opportunity to reflect on what they are taking in and then apply it to their curriculum. Teachers have utilized our teaching guides and NUSHU’s mission on Suffragettes and their influence on women’s rights.
How do kids participate/interact with the NUSHU narratives? Can you share any specific stories that would illustrate the impact of the interaction, or share a video clip?
Because of NUSHU’s conversational nature, the learning occurs very organically and the participation from children is essential to the concept of the product. So when they begin to play games and explore the world with our augmented alien, they will develop a sort of repertoire with NUSHU and will be more inspired to learn because they’re also teaching themselves. At the end of every mission, we ask students to do their own research on the topic. After they have felt this sense of ownership and mastered the topic, they are more inclined to continue their search for knowledge. Children have interacted with NUSHU to create plays about the topics they covered.
“At the end of every mission we ask students to do their own research on the topic.” – Eva Dominguez
How would you quantify your feedback/achievements to date with students aged from 8 to 12 years old? What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Teachers and children have absolutely loved NUSHU and their experiences with the product. We have a 100 percent recommendation rate from schools that have implemented NUSHU into their classrooms, and our feedback from students has been very positive. Here is a link to our YouTube channel which shows children’s responses to NUSHU and why they enjoyed their experience with the app. Our biggest challenge up to this point has been exposure to markets outside of Catalonia. As a small startup, resources are very limited and time is of the essence.
How are you planning to build/develop the NUSHU intellectual property in the next 10 years? What are your key goals?
NUSHU is a transmedia concept, a new age of storytelling. Kids see NUSHU as a friend or a resource to help them understand the world. In the next 10 years, we hope to develop and expand NUSHU to almost all media platforms, which will include TV, VR, books, comics and video games. We hope to be a global brand with impact in both public and private schools all over the world. In order to do this, we have been looking for distributors in different countries and have already started looking into how to expand into untapped platforms.
C.M. Rubin and Eva Dominguez