In fall 2011, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center released their latest report, “The New Coviewing: Designing for Learning Through Joint Media Engagement.” The study points out the short-comings of the term “co-viewing,” suggesting that “joint media engagement” is more fitting. The difference is more than just semantic, and instead alludes to the important cognitive shift from passive “viewing” associated with merely watching TV to active “engagement” (as in Sesame Street’s Kinect game Once Upon a Monster). We were excited to see this differentiation, especially because we think that the present and future of the best kids media is in truly interactive experiences.
In addition to presenting a brief literature review and a number of case studies on the topic, the report also included a design guide which outlined principles to consider when designing for joint media engagement. These principles include keeping content kid-driven, allowing for multiple planes of engagement, and clearly differentiating roles. The case studies included in this report pointed to a number of products that employ these principles, including Electric Racer, an intergenerational gaming experience designed to promote literacy. We found the principles outlined to be extremely interesting and helpful as we continue to consider co-play in our designs. We highly recommend you take the time to look at these, and the rest of the report when you have the chance!