The Challenge


How might we increase the availability of affordable learning tools & services for students in the developing world? read the brief


StoryCubes: A tool for local storytelling

These paper cubes allow users to create 3D visual tools that aid in the act of storytelling. This could enhance language training or be a way to create stories that are culturally relevant and valuable.
Proboscis developed these StoryCubes as "a tactile thinking and storytelling tool for exploring relationships and narratives. Each of the six sides can illustrate or describe an idea, a thing or an action – placed together it is possible to build up multiple narratives or explore the relationships between them in three-dimensions."


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Meena Kadri

August 07, 2010, 08:40AM
Great stuff Kate! I think you should post your Portable Desk concept as it's own post with images so that it may inspire others to cross-pollinate it with other ideas.

Kara Pecknold

August 05, 2010, 17:25PM
My research project looked at how to distribute cultural probes to a rural community to inquire about their needs/aspirations. While not a business model originally, this got me to thinking about how their could be an educational entrepreneur who made toolkits for schools (see my very rough concept here: When I first made these I ensured that all the items could be sourced inside or near to the country I was going to work in (Rwanda). Later, I took my original idea and created a craft kit for a young child:

An education toolkit/field bag that is created, built and delivered in India?

Giles Lane

August 05, 2010, 13:05PM
Hi there, I just came across this post - I'm Giles, Founder/Director of Proboscis and the designer/creator of the StoryCubes. They are part of a tool set we have developed over the past 10 years for communicating ideas in simple ways - Diffusion Shareables. We have also designed a simple downloadable hybrid digital/paper book format (Diffusion eBooks) and created - a free web app for people to design and create their own eBooks and StoryCubes.

We have used both eBooks & StoryCubes extensively in schools projects ourselves (we are starting a new long term project using them in a primary school in London this September). We also co-designed and supported a workshop in a secondary school in Delhi in 2009 which used both eBooks and StoryCubes very effectively -

bookleteer has been created to support eBooks/StoryCubes being created in around 80 different languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Tamil & Bengali. Whilst we aren't yet able to support Urdu script, the language can be presented via our support for Arabic (with native Right-to-left reading of eBooks generated). All these tools have been designed to be simple and cheap to make, using basic technologies and building upon craft skills. As publication formats they also allow for sharing to take place not just digitally but physically too. bookleteer now has a low-cost short run printing service (PPOD) for professionally printed & bound versions of eBooks & StoryCubes - here's a post about a project we did last year using eBooks to record stories about objects in the British Museum's collections from 2 villagers from Papua New Guinea's Reite Coast (free to downloaded from; which we have also printed PPOD copies of that anthropologist took back to share with the other villagers last month (July):

The design schematics for the eBooks are licensed under Creative Commons, whilst the designs of the StoryCube boxes remain our copyright as we currently manufacture and sell packs of the 'blank' StoryCubes as products. However, we're open to suggestion for other ways to use them to support learning around the world.

Sandy Speicher

August 05, 2010, 02:38AM
These are great thoughts and inspiration for learning tools. Thanks! Curious what you guys think about models for engagement/distribution and how local entrepreneurs might be inspired to provide these to/for schools! Open source/free tools are great, but often don't get to these schools. Any inspirational references for business ideas?

Kara Pecknold

August 05, 2010, 01:00AM
Yes! And I also think it could relate to ways library books get shared/delivered/translated as per this idea:

Meena Kadri

August 05, 2010, 00:01AM
Perhaps these could also work well as part of Jane's suggestion here:

Ian McArthur

August 04, 2010, 05:19AM
I like the work I have seen from Probiscus. The open source model is very powerful as a model for connecting people - especially when access is itself the biggest challenge. In this example what I admire is the recognition of storytelling as a tool for learning. The implications for development of creative skillsets (what we certainly need) is clear. Thumbs up from me :)

Kara Pecknold

August 04, 2010, 02:29AM
There are aspects that are free to download (scroll to the bottom of the site for resources). But I'm guessing at this point we're okay to at least provide a bit of inspiration to the challenge before concepts get developed.

Arturo Pelayo

August 04, 2010, 02:08AM

Are these open source? I think its important for this challenge to have the most cost-effective solutions and for widespread availability, open source tools could be key.

Meena Kadri

August 03, 2010, 23:34PM
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