Building off a previous post about introducing computers and educational games to young children, I ran across some more information via Scott Traylor’s 360Kid blog, which has some great posts related to designing educational games and toys for children, which is what his 360Kid company does.
In one post, Scott discusses how companies are starting to design more learning technologies and educational media experiences for very young children, and he links to a report and video from a panel of researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation entitled “A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers”. Here is the abstract:
In recent years, there has been a big increase in new electronic media products for very young children, including those as young as one month old. A driving force behind this new market is the advertising and package labeling that makes claims about the educational benefits of specific products. A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers examines the educational claims about commercially available educational media products (videos and DVDs, computer software, and video games) for very young children and what kind of research has been conducted to substantiate the educational claims.
Scott also shares a recommended reading list at a recent conference for developers of children’s media. One item I found interesting was a dissertation that Hoysniemi Johanna of Finland recently completed on the Design and Evaluation of Physically Interactive Games, such as playstation 2’s eyetoy webcam games or the Hasbro iOn. You may have seen games like these at an arcade or science museum. You stand in front of a webcam and see yourself in the game. You can move your hands or body to interact with virtual objects on screen. As far as I can tell though, the Hasbro iOn hasn’t really caught on like the V.Tech or Leap Frog stuff. It may be possible to create a free open source clone that works on a normal PC with a cheap webcam. Some people have worked on related projects using C# and DirectShow (1,2), but nothing public.
Finally, in this Youtube video posted by Scott, Brenda Laurel gives a talk at the Education Arcade symposium. She has a new book coming out entitled From Barbie to Mortal Combat: New Perspectives on Gender, Games, and Computing.