FOR THE FIRST TIME, there is a marriage among radio, television, computers, and telecommunications to create an educational information system--that's KIDSNET," explains Executive Director Karen Jaffe. KIDSNET is a computerized clearinghouse for children's radio and television. It is designed to help parents, teachers, librarians, and students gather information on programs targeted for pre-school- through high-school-aged children, in order to make radio and television more relevant and educational. Formerly a communications specialist for the National Education Association, Jaffe developed the idea for the project four years ago.
Data on 20,000 programs for pilot
Still in a research and development phase, KIDSNET has compiled data on 20,000 programs; the data were included in a pilot test in Cincinnati, Ohio, last May. The pilot system offered users free access to KIDSNET through any computer and modem or through an 800 telephone number. The pilot included a KIDSNET Help Menu that provided definitions of items used in the database: a bulletin board describing programs to be braodcast in the future; a calendar listing upcoming events pertaining to children's radio and television; off-air taping information defining the Educational Fair Use Guidelines; and a brief description of the two databases that make up the system. The Active database includes information on current and future programs, and the Archive database covers previously aired programs available in hard copy for broadcast and nonbroadcast formats. Users of the pilot system represented education, health and social services, and civic and religious organizations, as well as parents ans students.
Access for special needs audience
In addition to identifying programs for a specific curriculum area or grade level, both KIDSNET databases allow a user to define searches for special needs audiences, including people who are hearing impaired, vision impared, developmentally disabled, emotionally disabled, motor impaired, gifted and talented, bilingual, or multiethnic. By combining any of these variables in a search, a user can extract program information targeted for a specific audience. A teacher or librarian, for example, may wish to find programs geared for a multiethnic 8th-grade class in America History or a figted and talented 6th-grade art class. This method of searching nonprint media is unique to the KIDSNET system.
Other elements in the KIDSNET clearinghouse include information on evaluation, instructional design, specific learning objectives, program synopses, underwriters and/or advertisers, and the availability of related materials such as study guides, scripts, and bibliographies. To assist planning for the use of this media, KIDSNET indicates the broadcast source (commercial, public, or cable network), air date, and time. For programs available on casette or videodisc, the database gives full previewing and format information and where to write or call when renting/purchasing.
The book/short story connection
Of particular interest to librarians is KIDSNET's ability to call attention to a program that is based on a book, a play, or a short story. The pilot system featured several such programs, including the Arts and Entertainment Cable-Network production of Jane Eyre, based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte and dramatized by Alexander Baron, and a five-part arts and Entertainment series based on Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. KIDSNET also includes all programs in the "CBS Storybreak" Saturday series developed in cooperation with the Library of Congress. …