August 9, 2013 in Books (F)
[prMac.com] Atlanta, Georgia - Book apps can delight young minds with everything from three-dimensional imaginary worlds, to music, atmospheric sound effects, responsive characters and an extended set that reveals more of itself with each tilt of the iPad (to name just a few). All of these elements can enhance narrative engagement when they're thoughtfully integrated, intuitive and relevant.
However, it can also be the very added extras that create frustration, interrupt the narrative flow and affect comprehension. These are the primary reasons some educators have doubted book apps - and they aren't shy to share these industry grievances at EdTech conferences around the country.
Just as book app publishers need to innovate around what books look like, feel like and act like in this new world, Wasabi Productions believes they also need to be thoughtful with how these features come to life. In essence, optimizing the user experience so that the interactive features remain enhancements rather than detractors.
The cause and effect relationship of seeing things instantly happen when they touch is fantastic. But, in interactive storytelling, this isn't always the best way to get the most out of the experience.
In some cases (and especially because Apple advocates a response to every touch), book app users can have characters talking over the narrator, the scenery changing and characters singing and dancing, all before the story has had a chance to set this up. And, trying to coax kids to listen and wait before activating animation doesn't always go that smoothly. Mischel and Ebbesen's Stanford marshmallow experiment provides a case in point: Kids like instant gratification, even to their own detriment.
Enter a feature Wasabi Productions designed in its book apps some time ago to respond to this very conundrum: Delay Interactions.
In one simple setting, parents and teachers can delay interactions on each page until the narrator has read it. Since taps won't activate anything while the narrator is reading, this increases engagement with and understanding of the story before the elements on screen will respond. It's a simple-sounding feature with a powerful role to play in maintaining the integrity of experiencing a story while letting this story come alive further in a timely manner.
This setting is relatively straightforward technically but groundbreaking in how it solves many of the resistance points to book app use in homes and classrooms. It's just one example of how developers and publishers have a responsibility to innovate in the practical features that respond to user behavior. Wait to enjoy the first marshmallow and you get two instead!
It's features like this that should allow developers to continue on the mission of making book apps a meaningful and enjoyable part of a child's well rounded education. These kinds of innovations should give confidence to parents and teachers that book app products can deliver optimal reading experiences that are enhanced like never before.
Wasabi Productions, is an Australian-born startup focused on creating original storybook content for two-to-six year olds. Our books are designed from inception with touch screen technology in mind, meaning that reader interaction is central to the narrative development. Lazy Larry Lizard, our first app, was published in May 2010 shortly after the iPad's release. We've since launched four additional apps across two series with a fifth, Gorilla Band, going live on 15th August and many more planned for the coming months. Wasabi's apps are highly acclaimed with Ten Giggly Gorillas listed as 1 of 5 finalists in the kids app category at the Publishing Innovation Awards and reaching #2 in book apps in iTunes, USA, July 2013. Copyright (C) 2013 Wasabi Productions. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPod touch, and Mac are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other trademarks and registered trademarks may be the property of their respective owners.