Engineering Play: A Cultural History of Children’s Software by Mizuko Ito

By Mizuko Ito

This present day, pcs are a part of kids' daily lives, used either for play and for studying. We envy children's ordinary affinity for desktops, the convenience with which they click on out and in of electronic worlds. Thirty years in the past, despite the fact that, the pc belonged nearly solely to enterprise, the army, and academia. In Engineering Play, Mizuko Ito describes the transformation of the pc from a device linked to adults and paintings to at least one associated with young children, studying, and play. Ito provides an account of a pivotal interval within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, which observed the increase of a brand new classification of buyer software program designed particularly for easy school--aged childrens. "Edutainment" software program sought to mixture a variety of academic philosophies with interactive gaming and leisure, and integrated such titles as quantity Munchers, Oregon path, KidPix, and the place on the planet Is Carmen Sandiego?.

The children's software program increase (and the bust that followed), says Ito, should be obvious as a microcosm of the negotiations surrounding new know-how, childrens, and schooling. the tale she tells is either a testimonial to the transformative energy of innovation and a cautionary story approximately its obstacles.

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Additional resources for Engineering Play: A Cultural History of Children’s Software (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning)

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Introduction 27 Chapter 4 examines the construction genre, which has its roots in educational efforts to promote computer programming. Games in this genre involve tools and simulations that enable kids to author, construct, and manipulate digital media; they appeal to identities of technical mastery and empowerment and are marketed based on their ability to provide tools for creativity and self-expression. Kids’ engagement in this genre often involves projecting their own lifeworlds and identities into the online space, in often unpredictable ways.

All the curricular materials are available in both English and Spanish. The space is cramped, with computers rimming each wall around the round central table for activities such as drawing and board games. There is a stronger presence of parents and families at this site because of community ties through the church, and active efforts have been made to recruit parents to help staff the site. Older children sometimes bring their small siblings, and children just starting kindergarten and learning to read are often there as well.

In line with this approach, I often use the term kid rather than child because kid is the term that schoolage children tend to identify with themselves (Thorne 1993, 9). I turn now to a description of the field sites in which I encountered kids and their engagements with children’s software, and thereafter to a description of the fieldwork I conducted on the industry side. The Fifth Dimension The Fifth Dimension (5thD) consortium is an influential educational reform project with a history spanning decades.

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