Blogging for the Children’s Media Conference 2015. View original post here.
- You need clarity about the purpose of the project from the start.
- If children hate your product, it doesn’t matter how much you all like it. They’re the most important.
- Media literacy and competency with technology are different things, often confused.
Host David Kleeman prefaces the event on working with academic advisors with a little bit of history: there was often a level of distrust between children’s media makers and their advisors, but over the years that’s seen a great improvement as people consistently seek to make suitable, better content to live up to the expected levels of niche channels.
He has a list of simple tips that sum up the required dynamics of this professional partnership. His rules of engagement are to supply information in a timely manner, respect the financial pressures under which children’s media professionals work, support the creative vision and keep kids first. If they hate it, it doesn’t matter if the rest of you like it.
Ellie Haworth, educational advisor and ex-CBBC producer, talks about Titch and Ted Do Maths. They work on several scripts and compare them to the curriculum to make sure it’s on par and work on the best visual ways to convey maths concepts between two formats: 30 minutes episodes and 5 minutes webisodes. You need clarity on the purpose of the show.
Chris Wood of Ragdoll gives a case study in Twirlywoos, a situation comedy for 3 year olds that deals with concepts: up, down, over, in, out, etc. “We understand the importance and significance of concepts in early childhood,” he says, but he felt nervous in working with educational consultant.
They didn’t want to teach the concepts, as children instinctively know them. They wanted to reflect back to the child something they can relate to from their own experience. The characters are the ones learning, which places the viewer in a more knowledgeable position from the start.
Cathy Nutbrown, who Chris worked with, would question if the concept was developing in the right way and enough times per episode. Concepts needed focus, clarity and fun. More so, the team had to focus on their new audience: parents and carers; to do this they did a video ‘The thinking behind Twirlywoos‘ and showed their thoughts and children’s responses, which gained positive feedback.
Sherri Hope Culver talks about Ruff Ruffman Humble Media Genius and her ten steps for the process, including: relationship building, brainstorming, funding, drafting, production and so on. You need light boundaries so there’s flexibility for new ideas from anyone involved. They want to teach kids about media literacy, not just showing them someone using media. How do they use media? What topics would they be interested in?
Not everyone understands media literacy, many adults confuse it with competency with technology: it’s about active inquiry, helping children understand and ask questions about what they’re doing. They give feedback on how they use tech, look at privacy, sharing, implications, and so on.
These are very different companies and projects, but all collaboratively approach education with a view to doing something exciting and engaging, with the children’s needs front and centre.