Reading Goes Digital

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Not since the dawn of personal computing have people been so excited about the educational opportunities of computers.

The iPad, in particular, is attracting tons of attention – not just for its unique form factor and touch interface, but because its (relatively) low price point and super intuitive UI make it an ideal way to hold the attention of a generation of children raised on video games and on-demand entertainment.

There have already been some bold experiments in the space. Moonbot Studio’s wildly imaginative app The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore deftly fuses the world of books to movies and video games creating an immersive, interactive experience worthy of a Pixar movie.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The more practical (but no less revolutionary) Motion Math experiments with the concept of “embodied cognition” to translate mathematical constructs like fractions into muscle memory.

Motion Math works on the principle of embodied cognition, the idea that connecting one’s body to abstract concepts can deepen understanding

Motion Math works on the principle of embodied cognition, the idea that connecting one’s body to abstract concepts can deepen understanding

But the best is yet to come.  And we can think of no better man to bring the future of edutainment to life than LeVar Burton, chief engineer of the Star Trek Enterprise (and former host of the then-groundbreaking children’s literacy program Reading Rainbow).

According to a recent Fast Company article, Burton plans to reboot the Reading Rainbow franchise as an “educational iPad app that lets children explore topics of interest–such as, say space–in a multimedia-rich environment, with voice-over-enhanced children’s books, familiar videos of Burton at real-life places (like NASA), and, of course, games.”

Burton is aiming to break the digital content creator mold, by planning to not just create content, but to actively syndicate selections sure to excite kids everywhere.  Styling himself as the company’s “Curator in Chief,” LeVar plans to help parents and children navigate the growing jungle of digital content.

I, for one, welcome our new butterfly overlords.

I, for one, welcome our new butterfly overlords.

My Take

This is long overdue business model for the digital children’s space.  Now that digital content is becoming mainstream, a vacuum exists to help parents find new, exciting and appropriate content that turns kids on to learning and ideas.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see other content aggregators and producers getting into the curation act.

Over on Slate, Michael Agger wonders why Google hasn’t done it, and begins to answer his question in a follow up.  Still, as the new Reading Rainbow proves, curation doesn’t need an algorithm, just someone with a good eye for fun.  If Disney, Nickelodeon, Scholastic and the other big children’s content producers aren’t watching this one closely they’re missing out.

But…. You don’t have to take my word for it.  Read the article.

http://bit.ly/pIqYZq