ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Educating via entertainment media

By Glenda L. Revelle
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 1, No. 1]

DOI: 10.1145/950566.950590

Sesame Workshop was founded 35 years ago to investigate whether entertainment media could be used to educate children. At that time the medium in question was television. As the Sesame Street television show prepares to celebrate its 35th year on the air, the television programming schedule now includes a wide variety of other educational programming for young children, and researchers are in almost universal agreement that television can be used successfully for educational purposes. In recent years, the Workshop has faced the same challenge with a variety of interactive entertainment media (including videogames, DVD, and interactive television); i.e., these media all might have potential for educating children, but neither the platforms themselves nor the typical programming for these media are being planned with any particular thought toward education. This paper describes how the Sesame Street "experiment" has been continued and extended, by adapting interactive media platforms designed for entertainment so that they can be used to deliver educational experiences to young children. The paper also outlines Sesame Workshop's educational philosophy and approach, as applied in the interactive arena, and identifies some of the challenges and solutions in designing interfaces and interactive educational experiences that can be used and enjoyed by preschool-age children. Two specific research projects are described as examples of this approach: one details the development of an adapted software interface to make console videogame systems accessible to young children and the other evaluates a new approach to creating interactive television programming for young children on a DVD platform.

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