Eight ways for children to learn with multimedia. (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia)
by Heidi E.H. Aycock
For children, computers can be ideal playmates--except that PCs often don't speak very well and they can never keep up with a child's curiosity. Not even a CD-ROM can hold enough information to answer all the whys a child can generate, but the added storage space leaves room for more questions than a 20MB hard drive could ever accommodate. Add great sound to the package, and you can see how multimedia will improve the category of children's software.
One of the best ways to teach kids is to stay out of the way and let them explore on their own. Multimedia packages provide a wonderful environment ripe for exploration. Each one features point and click interfaces that require no reading skills at all. Many of these packages are simply electronic storybooks, offering many dimensions to the experience of hearing a story. Context Systems, for example, tells the story of how a house works in the present, the recent past, the colonial era, and even in the future. EBook, Broderbund, Sierra On-Line, and Voyager have translated the pages of children's books into megabytes of yarns, allowing kids to follow stories in their own ways. Other packages teach children about language, both foreign and domestic.
Children's software for Windows with Multimedia will soon include Our House, an animated tour of an average home with characters from the Family Circus comic strip as guides, from Context Systems (The Technology Center, 333 Byberry Road, Hatboro, Pennsylvania 19040; 215-675-5000); Sleeping Beauty, a retelling of the classic fairy tale that includes a dictionary for looking up difficult and unusual words, from EBook (39315 Zacate Avenue, Fremont, California 94538; 415-794-4816); Just Grandma and Me, a multilingual story based on Mercer Mayer's bestselling book of the same title, from Broderbund Software (17 Paul Drive, San Rafael, California 94903-2101; 415-492-3200); Amanda Stories, a child-directed journey with Inigo the kitten and Your Faithful Camel as traveling companions, from The Voyager Company (1351 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, California 90401; 215-451-1383); Mixed-Up Mother Goose, an adventure in dreamland where kids must find the missing pieces to popular nursery rhymes, from Sierra On-Line (P.O. Box 485, Coarsegold, California 93614; 209-683-4468); Introductory Games in Spanish and Introductory Games in French, collections of 27 language games that require no typing, from Syracuse Learning Systems (719 East Genesee Street, Syracuse, New York 13210; 315-478-6729); and The Macmillan Dictionary for Children--Multimedia Edition, a children's reference which features more than 13,000 word definitions, more than 1000 illustrations, and an audio pronunciation guide, from Maxwell Electronic Publishing (124 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138;617-661-2955).