I got this rude response from someone:
I think that replacing the experience of reading a book with a child with an audio/video feed, in solitude, is a bad idea.
I think that kids (and families) want and need the slow pace, the interactions, the bonding, the physicality, the challenge and the adaptability of reading a book together. I think that what you call “crazily-brilliant” might be destructive to writing and story and more dumbing down. I don’t think technology is a solution for everything, especially when it comes to the emotional, social and intellectual development of children.
My values don’t leave much room for tech (“media”) companies like yours to make much money. But I think it would be crazily-brilliant if everyone put kids ahead of money, all the time, every time.
So I responded with the following:
I agree with you completely that replacing reading with “an audio/video feed, in solitude” is a bad idea.
readImagine, the group of students from Stanford that I’m helping (I am a librarian at a public library, not an employee of a “media company”) is developing a tool within a number of California library systems, plus the California Library Association, to bring kids back to the library. They are developing good quality digital books (we NEED something better than BookFlix and Tumblebooks to compete with the content that’s available through the App store!), integrating ILS systems so kids can see what’s on the shelf at their local libraries, bringing in off-copyright content to be accessed directly through the portal, establishing teacher/parent/child analytics with a COPPA compliant social media and content creation platform, and working with libraries and schools to do educational research on the reading habits of children. Paper books are included in this project, and readImagine is signing authors to create original and adapted content, because frankly, publishers don’t know how to play nicely anymore with public libraries.
The more the child (aged 5-10 for now) reads, from whatever the source, the better. There will be back-end access for librarians to localize the content and provide reader’s advisory and highly details statistics about how a child is improving in their reading skills. The monetary gain ($100,000 from Education Nation if they win) that comes from this contest will go to ILS integration, content creation and pedagogical research with the partner libraries. They are working with a number of library systems already and are giving the product away for free because it’s an innovative research project, not a money making project. They are even developing an algorithm that can calculate the child’s reading level according to their interaction with the app, and corresponding adaptive text.
This endeavor is akin to the ebook hosting/distribution efforts of Library Renewal, Califa and Douglas County, only it’s for interactive media for children (in fact, many of the active players in those projects are also assisting in this project: Michael Porter, Sarah Houghton, Paul Sims and Derek Wolfgram are all helping in some capacity).
This is innovation, creative collaboration and technology used intelligently. That’s what libraries are about these days.
Please vote for readImagine’s pitch if you think any of this is a great idea! It closes tonight!!!