Wonderbook: A Revolution in Edutainment
Although immediately panned for being a hyperactive kids toy, the Wonderbook demonstration is the most intriguing one of the night. Essentially, it is an Augmented Reality simulator and exists somewhere between game and book. So far it looks to be only interactive books, with JK Rowling’s Book of Spells and something Diggs Nightcrawler being launch titles, but the concept could be expanded into so much more.
A Thousand Stories at your fingertipsImagine learning about chemical reactions inside a virtual science lab. Imagine traveling down the Oregon Trail with a pioneer family. Imagine running with dinosaurs, traveling through outer space, down the Amazon, aboard the Pequod with Captain Ahab hunting down the White Whale. The possibilities of Wonderbook is limited only by the imagination of the programmers.
Being in education for 5 years I can tell you that the hardest part is making kids give a shit about what is learned. Edutainment is the concept that allows learning to be fun. If things are fun and interesting, children will learn from that. Mythbusters is living proof of this. Hidden inside the explosions is a lot of science. Sure some things can’t be fun and takes hard work to care, you need to rote memorize your times tables and most grammar. Everything else can and should be taught in a fun way.
Sony can do a lot to facilitate the use of Wonderbook in education by setting up specific programs for it. The company can give full units to worthy schools for use inside their AV room. They can set up grants to facilitate the buying of their products. Sony can give live demonstrations to facility and students. They can give discounts on games and software when bought in bulk, or life time even download credits for educators.
I must give Sony credit because it is a bold risk to make this presentation. There are some in the gaming community who would rather not let the concept evolve beyond kid’s toy. If anything, the potential for the Kinect to be used in education is much greater. Too bad Microsoft is not trying it.