New tool from La Trobe helps educators to find a flow state, sense of relaxed alertness

by Freya Lucas

January 11, 2021

Using insights gained from research in education, psychology and interactive visualisation, researchers from La Trobe University have created Nuro, an online portal which may support early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals to manage the complexities of their role. 

 

With the tagline “play your way to curious”, Nuro users open an online portal where they follow visual spheres through a series of virtual worlds, experimenting with shape, colour, texture, and movement, opening up a ‘curious mindset’. 

 

A curious mindset, researchers said, “is the optimum state for absorbing new information.” Nuro combines science with gaming to introduce what is known as a flow state, allowing them to bring a state of relaxed alertness into their next experience. 

 

When a state of flow is reached, the parts of the brain responsible for judgement, sense of time and sense of self slow down and neurochemicals which enhance attention and motivation become keenly focused.

 

Essentially, those in a flow state move from being aware of what and who is around, to fully inhabiting their own mindspace.

 

In an ECEC context, such a state could support educators who are taking a ten minute break away from a stressful situation, before or after a difficult conversation, or when preparing for professional development or exams. 

 

Within Nuro there are no levels, no time limits, no way to win, lose or complete the experience – there is simply exploration. Backed with music which is designed to enhance the users experience, Nuro is best used with headphones. 

 

Nuro may also be a useful tool to support children with regulation or transitioning needs, or for those children who become sensorially overwhelmed in their environment. 

 

Nuro’s release, which was timed to fall within the National Gallery of Victoria’s Triennial, is one which La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said is especially welcomed given the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good mental health, and “tested our ability to focus in the face of global upheaval.”

 

La Trobe academic, Associate Professor Craig Deed, said Nuro was “unlike any other” project he had been involved with.

 

“A flow state can be achieved through an activity that stimulates both the creative and functional parts of the brain, features predictable patterns, and where the level of difficulty matches the user’s level of skill and attention. Nuro applies similar concepts in a digital setting,” he added.

 

Nuro was launched with the opening of NGV Triennial, running from 19 December 2020. 

 

To engage with Nuro, please see here

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