Tag Archives: mobile

Sandbox Summit Lunch & Learn Recap

Seema Patel, CEO of Interbots, and Patrick Mittereder, CEO of Electric Owl Studios, joined K+C Network members this afternoon for a lunch full of learning. Held at The Children’s Home & Lemieux Family Center, the lunch & learn focused on the market research attained at the Sandbox Summit earlier this year.

The Sandbox Summit is an annual conference that focuses on an aspect of children and play. The 2012 conference was geared towards mobile play- having the ability to play anywhere and everywhere at anytime. Seema and Patrick traveled to MIT to attend the summit on a stipend awarded by the Spark program, through The Sprout Fund. While there, they concentrated on information that was applicable to the Greater Pittsburgh region and could be used in their own business practices.

They took notice of the diversity of participants of the conference. While most conferences follow a very specific line of audience members, this year’s Sandbox Summit was fairly evenly dispersed between publishers, developers, educators, and researchers. This variety of audience members allowed for a spectrum of opinions and theory, and produced wholesome conclusions.

Seema and Patrick both stem from a developer background, and so there were significantly interested in the market research presented at the Sandbox Summit. They revealed the three key characteristics of applications that appeal to children. Children apps must be interactive, animated, and simple. E-books follow these same basic guidelines for success. While it is vital that content must spread to digital platforms, changing the platform is not nearly enough.

It must mean more than turning a digital page on a digital book. It must be interactive. It must be an experience.


They also took the time to discuss details about Generation Y and Generation Z. Gen Y, those who are currently 18-32, are consumed with digital media, obsessed with their social worlds, and seek transparency in the marketplace. Gen Z, on the other hand, consists of those currently younger than 18 years of age. They are focused on take the digital lead by having hand-me-ups, exercising use over ownership, and valuing the power in technology. While both generations differ greatly, they share the same vested interest in technology and the digital world. Developers and marketers are able to connect these two generations through their shared passion for digital life. They seek technology and expect content to be everywhere and anywhere at any point. They want to find, literally, technology at their fingertips- through computers, smart phones, tablets, including all iDevices.

A significant idea brought forth during the lunch & learn is that of age appropriate electronic devices. While the Nitendo DS is ranked as the most common electronic device owned by youth, the iPad is said to be the most commonly used- although a whirlwind of difference divides the two. Who is to say what type of device is appropriate for what age level? If children are progressing so quickly that we cannot keep them to a standard of age appropriateness, should there be age limits at all? Children may not be able to use an electronic device to its maximum potential, but they do know the basics of how to use them. Some children are even teaching their parents how to use devices, reversing roles.

Seema and Patrick chose several videos to direct audience members towards. These videos are all from the Sandbox Summit. Those unable to attend the conference earlier this year are able to go online and view certain sessions. Significant videos include Rick Richter of Ruckus Media & Play Science and Jane Gould of SVP Consumer Insights, Nickelodeon. To view the remaining taped sessions, check out the 2012 Sandbox Summit’s video archive.

To hear more news on game developers collaborating with educators, learn more about upcoming annual conferences, or to find the next Spark Lunch & Learn, visit the Events & Opportunities page on Spark’s site!

Recap of FredForward 2012

The Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College hosted the 2012 FredForward conference this past week from Sunday, June 3rd to Tuesday, June 5th. The biennial conference brings together leading figures in the world of early childhood media production and scholarship for three days of discussions, presentations, and networking to help advance the field of children’s media and carry forward the legacy of Fred Rogers.

With an attendance of approximately 150 people, FredForward draws a concentrated mix of influential thinkers, speakers, and media makers from around the world. Several Spark Network members were among those presenting on panels and in speaking sessions throughout the conference.

Voices of Children

An ongoing feature of the conference, Voices of Children speakers remixed the advice of Fred Rogers to “Think of the Children First.” By using new tools and technologies, scholars like Dr. Alice Wilder advocate the maxim to “Listen to the Children.”

To see this ethos in action, Jessica Kaminsky and Jessica Pachuta from the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon presented Hear Me, a project that uses media and technology to create opportunities for children to be heard, acknowledged and understood, giving them the power to inspire social change.

Framework for Quality

A major focus of the 2012 conference was the recently released “Building a Framework for Quality in Digital Media for Young Children” statement by the Fred Rogers Center. Discussions ranged from defining the meaning of quality for different audiences, the need for multilingual content, to policy recommendations to improve the technological infrastructure of early learning environments.

In the Curation and Crowdsourcing panel, Drew Davidson from the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University shared the stage with Shira Lee Katz from Common Sense Media, Emily Kirkpatrick from the National Center for Family Literarcy, and GeekDad Daniel Donahoo, who Skyped in from Australia.

Moderated by Rob Lippincott from PBS Learning Media, the panel examined how quality can be evaluated and advanced in an era of mass participation in and production of new media.

For his part, Drew provided conference-goers with an overview of workingexamples.org, a collaborative project with James Paul Gee that proposes to create a digital space where people can show examples of how their ideas, theories, claims, or hypotheses work in terms that people beyond their own disciplines or domains can understand, assess, and appreciate. Drew offered Working Examples as a means for early childhood practitioners and children’s media producers to test ideas and provide critical feedback in order to illuminate failures and successes.

Play to Learns

Throughout the conference on Monday, attendees had the opportunity to interact with several examples of new media and digital technology programs for children in the Play-to-Learn showcase. Among the participants were several Spark network projects including Apps4Kids from Playpower, Popchilla’s World from Interbots, ZooBeats from WYEP and Electric Owl Studios, Hello Robo! from the Carnegie Science Center, and Message from Me from the CREATE Lab.

Play-to-Learn exhibits illustrated the principles of the Fred Rogers Center Framework for Quality in action and gave attendees a glimpse of how members of the Spark Network are using technology and media to provide children with remarkable opportunities to learn and be creative.

For more details on the conference, visit the FredForward website and read the conference’s Twitter backchannel using the hashtag #FredForward.