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Challenges for the future of educational media
Unformatted Document Text:  Future challenges 12 An alternate approach to overcoming the mismatch between hardware demands and children’s natural behavior is to bring educational technology more in line with traditional forms of play, rather than fitting children’s play to the constraints of existing technology. These sorts of efforts have led to the creation of what has been termed physical multimedia or tangible interfaces - - interfaces that are controlled by the user’s interactions with devices such as dolls, games, floor mats, or even entire rooms (e.g., Druin & Solomon, 1996). In the commercial arena, these sorts of devices are typified by products such as Microsoft’s Actimates dolls: plush dolls of familiar television characters, such as Barney or the Teletubbies, that are programmed to play games, offer children puzzles, and even interact with online Web sites when the right part of the doll is pressed (Strommen & Alexander, 1999). Other examples include programmable LEGO bricks that allow children to build working robots (e.g., Resnick, 1993; Shwe, 2001) and playsets in which children move small toys on a board to cause outcomes on a computer screen (Shwe, 2001). By embedding technology within these familiar kinds of toys, such products can guide children’s play in directions that encourage cognitive growth while allowing children to control the experience through behaviors that more closely resemble traditional play. Challenge #4: Designing convergent media effectively. Elsewhere, I have reviewed design features that contribute to the effectiveness of educational media, and shown that many of these features are equally applicable across television, interactive media, and print, while others are unique to a specific medium (Fisch, in press). Rather than repeat that discussion here, let us instead look to the future of educational media and consider issues that are just beginning to become apparent as media move toward convergence in the form of enhanced television (a subcategory of digital television that is also referred to as interactive television; e.g., Ducey, 1999).

Authors: Fisch, Shalom.
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Future challenges 12
An alternate approach to overcoming the mismatch between hardware demands and
children’s natural behavior is to bring educational technology more in line with traditional forms of
play, rather than fitting children’s play to the constraints of existing technology. These sorts of
efforts have led to the creation of what has been termed physical multimedia or tangible interfaces -
- interfaces that are controlled by the user’s interactions with devices such as dolls, games, floor
mats, or even entire rooms (e.g., Druin & Solomon, 1996). In the commercial arena, these sorts of
devices are typified by products such as Microsoft’s Actimates dolls: plush dolls of familiar
television characters, such as Barney or the Teletubbies, that are programmed to play games, offer
children puzzles, and even interact with online Web sites when the right part of the doll is pressed
(Strommen & Alexander, 1999). Other examples include programmable LEGO bricks that allow
children to build working robots (e.g., Resnick, 1993; Shwe, 2001) and playsets in which children
move small toys on a board to cause outcomes on a computer screen (Shwe, 2001). By embedding
technology within these familiar kinds of toys, such products can guide children’s play in directions
that encourage cognitive growth while allowing children to control the experience through
behaviors that more closely resemble traditional play.
Challenge #4: Designing convergent media effectively. Elsewhere, I have reviewed design
features that contribute to the effectiveness of educational media, and shown that many of these
features are equally applicable across television, interactive media, and print, while others are
unique to a specific medium (Fisch, in press). Rather than repeat that discussion here, let us instead
look to the future of educational media and consider issues that are just beginning to become
apparent as media move toward convergence in the form of enhanced television (a subcategory of
digital television that is also referred to as interactive television; e.g., Ducey, 1999).


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