Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Investigating the Activities of Children toward a Smart Storytelling Toy

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Investigating the Activities of Children toward a Smart Storytelling Toy

Article excerpt

Introduction

Smart technologies have been adapted to several systems for the purpose of integrating technological innovations. These technologies have more capabilities to meet humans' needs than previous traditional ones. For instance, presenting multimedia content and providing instant feedback can be effectively achieved with these smart technologies. Toys have also gained digital characteristic with these smart technologies, such as computers, software, and digital materials. These newly developed toys can be called smart toys. The advantage offered by these smart toys is that they provide a rich play environment in terms of multimedia use and interactive usability by integrating the digital medium with traditional toys. As Lampe and Hinske (2007) stated, enriching traditional toys by adding multimedia content can increase the quality of fantasy play and provide a more creative environment for children. Smart toys can provide several alternatives for children, such as supporting collaborative play, active reaction, and imaginative play.

Fantasy play is of great importance in the lives of children because it can reflect their emotions and imagination freely. As Trionfi and Reese (2009) reported, there is a positive relationship between fantasy play and the storytelling abilities of children. Similar to this view, Cassell and Ryokai (2001) stated that fantasy play enables children to reveal their inner world possibilities without facing difficulties. Fantasy play can be viewed as combining physical reality with children's imaginative world. From this perspective, smart toys that combine physical reality with virtual reality can be a good option for children to engage in fantasy play, including storytelling, role-playing, etc. These smart toys can also generally be called computationally augmented toys (Bers & Cassell, 1998; Glos & Cassell, 1997), digitally augmented physical spaces, digitally enhanced physical spaces (Price & Rogers, 2004), and other similar terms. The advantage offered by these smart toys is that they provide mixed reality by combining physical and virtual realities (Stapleton, Hughes, & Moshell, 2002; Lampe & Hinske, 2007). This paper introduces a smart storytelling toy called StoryTech. It is used to improve children's creativity by helping them to create rich stories. StoryTech can be used as a part of formal learning activities under the supervision of teachers. It can also be used as an informal learning tool. Children can also create and record stories by themselves. The researchers investigated the impact of StoryTech on children's narrative activities and creativity.

Related Work

There have been several smart storytelling toy projects in the field: Rosebud is an interactive system that links children's stories to their toys (Glos & Cassell, 1997). Rosebud is a keyboard- and desktop-dependent system that requires technical collaboration with a computer. StoryMat is a computationally augmented space that encourages children's storytelling and story-listening activities (Cassell & Ryokai, 2001). StoryMat provides a play space for children to tell their own stories by recording and recalling their stories. Compared with Rosebud, stuffed animals are the main characters of the system rather than a desktop computer. Dolltoy is a toy that allows children to record their stories and hear them back by capturing the gestures and speech of a child (Vaucelle & Jehan, 2002). StoryToy is an augmented toy that tells different stories based on the play actions of children with physical toy objects related to a farm (Fontijn & Mendels, 2005). Different from StoryMat or Rosebud, the aim of StoryToy is not only to encourage the children to tell their own stories but also to create a traditional play environment including a predefined story content (Fontijn & Mendels, 2005). One of the common points of most of these smart toys is to use simple low-tech stuffed animals to provide a natural feel while playing. …

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