Last week (Oct 3, 2011) I spoke on a panel on the evaluation of interactive media at the Fred Rogers Center and I referred to this page, from the September 2011 issue of Children’s Technology Review.
I issued a strong disclaimer that every theory can find a champion in technology — in other words, one person’s view of quality can (and should) differ from another person’s view. As Jesse Schell (of CMU) reminded the group, measuring quality in an interactive product is like trying to assess beauty.
So, because interactive media is so diverse, and no single checklist, rubric (or as David Kleeman says a “rubrics-cube”) can capture all the possible attributes of quality, here are some common general attributes of products that our particular instrument attempts to capture. Most of these are similar to teacher/child interactions that might be characterized as “quality” or “educational.”
A five star product may be one that —
- increases feelings of child control. A child feels empowered, in control, or able to make things happen from the experience, rather than depowered, slowed down, or hindered by the experience.
- provides success in the first few seconds. We use a filter we call the MUC (Miniumum User Competency) to help us gauge the prerequisite skills that are required in order to succeed with an experience.
- doesn’t trap children. Children can always get out of what they get into.
- looks good; sounds good. Today’s hardware makes it possible to deliver “retina display” graphics, and surround sound audio.
- innovative. We see dozens of games of concentration. We like to reward products that are the first to tap the potential of a new technology.
- well leveled. As the child moves through the experience, they don’t run into “hey mom” bottlenecks.
- state-of-the-art. Makes use of the latest tools and techniques to reach the widest number of children.
- is affordable. Compared to competitive products, the product delivers.
What attributes might earn lower 1, 2, or 3 star ratings?
- talks too much.
- sluggish, laggy, or less than crisp.
- talks down to children, feels “sugary.”
- not well developmentally matched.
- “homemade” feeling art, narration and/or music.
- buggy, crashes, buffer problems.
- typos, bad grammar and/or sloppy craftsmanship.
- doesn’t use the potential of the hardware and software.
- competitive products cost less and do more. The free market can be a cruel place, but a 4 year old doesn’t care
Children’s Technology Review is a longitudinal study of children’s interactive media products that started in 1985. The reviews and ratings are housed in an internal database with 12,522 commercial products (as of May 2011) for approximately 18 platforms. Subscribers have online access to select fields from this database. The Hunt for Five Stars
“What does a 5 star interactive media product for children look like?” At CTR, this question is our holy grail. Like the moving world record line that is super-imposed over an Olympic swimming event, it represents the continually fluid yardstick for quality that we hold every app, game, toy or site against… Are These 5 Star iTunes Ratings for Real?
We’re not going to accuse somebody of posting fake ratings. But when a poorly designed app gets 23 five star ratings, things start to look fishy. If you’re the publisher and you’d like explain what’s going on… 10,500 Objective Reviews, At Your Fingertips
Children’s Technology Review are easier to find, and they look better, too. The improved format includes a cleaner, easier-to-browse layout and one-click search scripts, making it possible to zoom in on the reviews you want. The database is available to only CTR subscribers. CTR, May 2012: Low Ratings and Sad Faces
We’re always sorry to give any product a less-than-glowing-review, but like a doctor that tells you need to loose a few pounds, our job can’t involve hurt feelings. Will our rating of a product change? Not unless the product does, and that leads our readers to a question we think about a lot. “How can a product earn five stars?” How Does a Product Get a Five Star Rating?
Last week (Oct 3, 2011) I spoke on a panel on the evaluation of interactive media at the Fred Rogers Center and I referred to this page, from the September 2011 issue of Children’s Technology Review. I issued a strong disclaimer that every theory can find a champion in technology — in other words, one person’s view of quality can (and should) differ from another person’s view. As Jesse Schell (of CMU) reminded the group, measuring quality in an interactive product is like trying to assess beauty…. How not to make a children’s eBook: Notes from the 2013 Jurors of the BolognaRagazzi Digital Prize.