Position Paper 6: Interview with Drew Davidson, Ph.D.


Published on

We interviewed Dr. Davidson to discuss the evolving relationship between technology and education in this position paper.

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Position Paper 6: Interview with Drew Davidson, Ph.D.

  1. 1. Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway,3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com Cupcake Digital Receives Expert Counsel on the EvolvingConvergence ofTechnology and Education. Cupcake Digital is committed to delivering products that successfully blend entertainment with educational elements. The company draws on the advice of experts, among themDrew Davidson, Ph.D. Acting Director, Entertainment Technology Center Director, Carnegie Mellon University.Dr. Davidson is a professor and producer of interactive media with a background spanning academic, industry and professional worlds. He is the Founding Editor of ETC Press and its Well Played series and journal. He also helped create the Sandbox Symposium, an ACM SIGGRAPH conference on video games and served on the IGDA Education SI. We interviewed Dr. Davidson to discuss the evolving relationship between technology and education in this position paper. Objective: To share expert thinking on the evolving relationship between technology and education and the roletechnology – especially personal digital devices – should play in the education process. Background: Technology has become an important educational tool. However, teachers, parents and caregivers are still somewhat unclear on the role it should play in the learning process for young children. How much is too much or not enough? What hasresearch discovered regarding children’s usage of digital devices? Both PBS Kids Research and theJoanGanz Cooney Research Center, founded by Sesame Street Workshop, have conducted studies indicating that tablets and touch gestures are very engaging as a platform for young children and
  2. 2. Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway,3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com that apps are good because they are totally intuitive. What role do you think apps should or shouldn’t play in the learning system? Personally, I’m for a mix of media in education – getting kids to do things hands on, with tablets and with one another. How would you evaluate apps as a learning tool? Apps are nota magic bullet. A learning curriculum needs to bewell- rounded,apps have to be part of the system in which they are used. Where does your research fall in the scope of education technology? Ours is applied research in the entertainment technology area. We get an interdisciplinary team together to make something – from video games to films to interactive websites to apps for phones. When we apply our research to education, we look at how games can be used to help with learning. People often try to separate education and entertainment, but you are bringing them together. We’ve found that good design works in multiple ways. A really well designed game is a great example of good learning. It teaches you how to play the game, so when you finish you’ve learned and have also been entertained. Educators talk about the power of play as an effective learning tool. Do you see differences between play with a digital device and play with other learning toys? They’re comparable; it’s the level of engagement that counts. If you give children Legos, they’re going to build. Digital experiences need that level of openness. The best one is Minecraft– a game that lets kids do whatever they want. Children as early as age four can play it, even grad students!
  3. 3. Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway,3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com How is a child interacting with an app’s experience differ from a child watching a TV program such as “Sesame Street?” With a tablet, kids assume they have agency within the experience,and they are looking for choices. The better TV shows make kids feel engaged, too. But because apps are interactive, children have control. What disadvantages are related to playing with apps? If an iPadbecomes the only toy they want to play with --as opposed to part of their overall learning ecology – it’s not good. Educational games can keep kids entertained while they learn, but they find less need to ask parents for help. So, parents might also pay less attention and miss opportunities to bond with their kid. If you were to offer parents guidelines for allowing their children to engage in app play, what would those be? I would direct parents to the Radical Parenting website for advice. An article on the site suggests that parents make sure equal time is spent with technology, reading and outdoor activities. What should parents/caregivers/educators look for in choosing apps for children? I recommend apps that are well reviewed by Common Sense Media, Children’s Tech Review and Parents’ Choice Foundation. I’d look at whether the app developer has relationships with educational institutions. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with apps just for fun. What would you say to reassure parents and educators who are resistant to allowing young children to use digital devices?
  4. 4. Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway,3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com It’s all about moderation. If you’re part of the experience with them, then it’s education not just for kids but for you as well. How have peopleadapted to the new technologies? It’s a huge spectrum-- from early adapters to those who say they’re not interested. The cool thing is that technology just gets to be a seamless part of our lives. You used to plan a trip with maps and AAA TripTiks. Now, all you need is your iPhone with Google maps. Do you think educators are adapting as quickly as they need to in order to take advantage of new technologies? It’s a fallacy to think we can get teachers to adapt quickly to technology that kids are more comfortable with than they are. We can do better by setting up the system so that reasonable workloads give teachers time to learn and adopt technologies more effectively. What do app developers need to do to meet the demands of today's consumer audiences? They need to collaborate with subject experts, learning consultants and assessment designers throughout thedevelopment process, to get a good sense of the effectiveness of the app as it helps with learning. What do you see as the next phase of educational app design? I see more connected families of apps, like Toca Boca. It’s a suite of tightly integrated appswith a solid experience and educational design traveling across it. What is Cupcake Digital is doing well to marry entertainment, technology and education?
  5. 5. Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway,3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com Cupcake is strengthening partnerships to make apps more educationally sound, reaching out to Common Core and subject experts for advice. About Cupcake Digital Cupcake Digital, Inc. was established in June 2012, and has been successfully transforming children’s entertainment properties into enhanced story experiences and learn& play apps, giving kids an opportunity to interact with the characters they love. The Company has created noteworthy, award- winning digital applications based on the Emmy®-winning television series “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!®” The Jim Henson Company's “Fraggle Rock,” American Greetings' Strawberry Shortcake as well as Discovery’s Animal Planet brand. The company’s apps are consistently top-ranked among children's book and education apps on the Apple App Store, Amazon, Google Play and the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store. Headquartered in NYC, Cupcake Digital was founded by proven professionals in the fields of technology, family entertainment, publishing and brand marketing. In October 2012, Cupcake Digital received its first round of private funding and has since gone on to partner with leading children's entertainment properties worldwide and has received four Parents' Choice Awards and two CynopsisKids !magination Awards. For more information about Cupcake Digital Inc., please visit www.cupcakedigital.com.