Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reading: Designing Multimedia Environments for Children- Computers, Creativity and Kids

By Allison Druin and Cynthia Solomon
  • An overview of the past, present and future trends in multimedia for children
  • Compare the process, results, and impact of different multimedia approaches
  • A framework to develop your own approaches to multimedia
  • Origins of Educational Multimedia Environments: Kids today:When developing multimedia environments for children, we as designers must remember that children are not just short adults. We cannot water down multimedia environments designed for adults and expect them to be valuable environments for children. Young people have their own likes, dislikes curiosities, and needs that are not the same as their adults and parents. They love to draw, use clay, build with blocks, watch videos and play games. Children love repetition, but only when they are in control- Honesty, curiosity, repetition and control.
  • Elementary school math design issues:Elementary school mathematics is an area which is constantly under scrutiny and attack. Since atleast the beginning of the 20th century, educators in the United States have tried to fix things in the math classroom. Yet, it seems the majority of the elementary teachers and students have remained alienated. Societal needs for people who are comfortable in mathematical thinking escalate while the gap widens. The reality and pervasiveness of computers in our lives creates new needs and new opportunities to look at mathematics education reform. As educators, designers of educational material, graphic designers, programmers, parents, teachers, or critics, we need to identify our own biases, learning theories, and educational strategies.
  • Extending the curriculum: Math investigations:
    The CCC (Computer Curriculum Corporation) math material first developed at Stanford in the mid-1960s is now part of the SuccessMaker system; it “is a technology-based learning system that helps teaching and administrators meet educational goals. State-of-the-art multimedia-including digitized sound, full-motion video, and animation-provide interactive learning experiences for students at all grade levels” (CCC 1993,2). Math Investigations is a response to the recommendations of the NCTM standards to teach problem-solving in elementary school math. So, CCC obtained the Math Processor, which contains “online math tools and manipulatives” such as dynamically linkable graph, spreadsheet, and chart generators, a geometric construction set with linear and angular measurement tools, and other such tools. Children are given problem-solving situations which require calculations of various sorts.
  • Discovery learning:
    Davis is identified with a pedagogical approach called discovery learning or discovery teaching by which he means “that a teacher might call attention to a problem, but the task of inventing a method for dealing with the problem was left as the responsibility of the student” Discovery learning is one approach that teachers can use to help you build your internal structure and also help you correct this structure when it is wrong.
  • There are three types of multimedia authoring tools:
    1. Multimedia resources: libraries of multimedia sound, images, video, and so forth
    2. Multimedia presentations: tools to create slide shows, movies, animations
    3. Multimedia interactive authoring: tools to create interactive nonlinear multimedia
  • The Visual Almanac, Kid Pix and HyperStudio are examples of different approaches to multimedia authoring for children
  • While most authoring tools today emphasize the glue they give to combine different forms of media, the Visual Almanac emphasizes the types of media that can be glued together.
  • Kid Pix Studio is a paint, animation, and slide show program with a distinct sense of humour that appeals to young children (and adults).
  • HyperStudio is a multimedia authoring tool that a fourth grader could use to create a class project on whales or an interactive family tree with his or her grandmother at home.
  • Such professional authoring tools as Macromedia’s Director and Apple Computer’s Apple Media Tool offers examples of powerful metaphors that can be incorporated into children’s environments for the future.
  • Physical Multimedia Environments- The virtual versus the physical world:
    • In the future, children’s multimedia environments may not have to live in hard plastic boxes that sit on desktops with keyboards, mice, or the occasional joystick.
    • Multimedia environments in the future may look like any familiar room, stuffed animal, or toy block, and may be responsive to a child’s movement, touch, sound, or even gesture.
    • By offering real-world objects and places enhanced with technologies, physical multimedia environments can offer more powerful and involving learning experiences for children.
    • The Media Room, LEGO TC Logo, and Immersive Environments all have enormous potential for future physical multimedia environments for children.
    • Designing physical multimedia environments that utilize the power of new technologies, media, and physical spaces invites the collaboration of diverse talents.
    • Communication between technical and nontechnical, visual and non-visual designers may be the most challenging of the design process- PROTOTYPING is helpful.
  • Thoughts about tomorrow: “The best way to predict the future, is to invent it”
    • Some questions we can ponder about our future:
      1. What will our future approaches to teaching and learning be?
      2. What will our future technologies be?
      3. Where will our future technologies be created?
      4. What will not change in the future?
    • Social context
    • With technologies similar to Virtual Reality, we will begin to see more and more information superimposed on our physical surroundings.
    • As more and more of our information becomes digital, we will need better ways of organizing the huge quantities of text, graphic, and sound in our future.
    • As we look towards the future, there are certain design principles that will not change:
      1. Interdisciplinary team design
      2. The importance of content design
      3. Quality production values
      4. The importance of choosing an educational approach (and understanding why you’ve chosen it)

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