Children's Interactive Media Evaluation Form


by Warren Buckleitner, Editor, Children's Technology Review

This instrument has been designed for measuring generic attributes that are commonly associated with "quality" in a children's interactive media experience. Note that measuring quality is not an exact science. This instrument is one of six specific rubrics that we use to evaluate interactive media. In addition, the "state-of-the-art" is a moving target, so this needs to be considered.

Instructions: Spend a few hours with the product, preferably with a child, making note of key strengths and weaknesses. Then use this instrument, and calculate your rating. SE = Some Extent, NA = Not Applicable. Be sure to use "NA" carefully, as it can weight the rating. For example, an educational product may not be designed to be "fun" and a video game may have no educational intentions. You can use the NA at your own discretion to balance the ratings after you've rated a number of similar titles. In addition, the first and second categories can be merged.

I. Ease of Use (Can my child use it with minimal help?)
Always SE Never NA
1._ _ _ _ Skills needed to operate the program are in range of the child
2 _ _ _ _ Children can use the program independently after the first use
3. _ _ _ _ Accessing key menus is straightforward
4. _ _ _ _ Reading ability is not prerequisite to using the program
5. _ _ _ _ Graphics make sense to the intended user
6. _ _ _ _ Printing routines are simple
7. _ _ _ _ It is easy to get in or out of any activity at any point
8. _ _ _ _ Getting to the first menu is quick and easy
9. _ _ _ _ Controls are responsive to the touch
10. _ _ _ _ Written materials are helpful
11. _ _ _ _ Instructions can be reviewed on the screen, if necessary
12. _ _ _ _ Children know if they make a mistake
13. _ _ _ _ Icons are large and easy to select with a moving cursor
14. _ _ _ _ Installation procedure is straightforward and easy to do
_ _ _ _ TOTAL EASE OF USE

II. Childproof (Is it designed with child-reality in mind?)
Always SE Never NA
1. _ _ _ _ Survives the "pound on the keyboard" test
2. _ _ _ _ Offers quick, clear, obvious response to a child’s action
3. _ _ _ _ The child has control over the rate of display
4. _ _ _ _ The child has control over exiting at any time
5. _ _ _ _ The child has control over the order of the display
6. _ _ _ _ Title screen sequence is brief or can be bypassed
7. _ _ _ _ When a child holds a key down, only one input is sent to the computer
8. _ _ _ _ Files not intended for children are safe
9 _ _ _ _ Children know when they’ve made a mistake
10 _ _ _ _This program would operate smoothly in a home or classroom setting
_ _ _ _ TOTAL CHILDPROOF

NOTE THAT WE COMMONLY MERGE I AND II INTO "EASE OF USE" CATEGORY

III. Educational (What can my child learn from this program?)
Always SE Never NA
1. _ _ _ _ Offers a good presentation of one or more content areas
2. _ _ _ _ Graphics do not detract from the program’s educational intentions
3. _ _ _ _ Feedback employs meaningful graphic and sound capabilities
4. _ _ _ _ Speech is used
5. _ _ _ _ The presentation is novel with each use
6. _ _ _ _ Good challenge range (this program will grow with the child)
7. _ _ _ _ Feedback reinforces content (embedded reinforcements are used)
8. _ _ _ _ Program elements match direct experiences
9. _ _ _ _ Content is free from gender bias
10._ _ _ _ Content is free from ethnic bias* (see list at bottom)
11._ _ _ _ A child’s ideas can be incorporated into the program
12._ _ _ _ The program comes with strategies to extend the learning
13._ _ _ _ There is a sufficient amount of content
_ _ _ _ TOTAL EDUCATIONAL VALUE

IV. Entertaining (Is this program fun to use?)
Always SE Never NA
1. _ _ _ _ The program is enjoyable to use
2. _ _ _ _ Graphics are meaningful and enjoyed by children
3. _ _ _ _ This program is appealing to a wide audience
4 _ _ _ _ Children return to this program time after time
5. _ _ _ _ Random generation techniques are employed in the design
6. _ _ _ _ Speech and sounds are meaningful to children
7. _ _ _ _ Challenge is fluid, or a child can select own level
8. _ _ _ _ The program is responsive to a child’s actions
9. _ _ _ _ The theme of the program is meaningful to children
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ TOTAL ENTERTAINMENT VALUE

V. Design Features (How smart is this program?)
Always SE Never NA
1._ _ _ _The program has speech capacity
2._ _ _ _Has printing capacity
3._ _ _ _Keeps records of child’s work
4._ _ _ _"Branches" automatically: challenge level is fluid
5._ _ _ _A child’s ideas can be incorporated into the program
6._ _ _ _Sound can be toggled or adjusted
7._ _ _ _Feedback is customized in some way to the individual child
8._ _ _ _Program keeps a history of the child’s use over a period of time
9._ _ _ _Teacher/parent options are easy to find and use
_ _ _ _ TOTAL DESIGN FEATURES

VI. Value (How much does it cost vs. what it does? Is it worth it?)

Considering the factors rated above, and the average retail price of software, rate this program’s relative value.

Poor...................................Good
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
_ TOTAL VALUE


Adding Up the Scores

Step 1: Count the totals under each column.
Step 2: Assign point values, as follows:
Always = 1 point each
Some Extent = 1/2 point each
Never = 0 points each
NA = Not counted


You can use this formula
(X + (Y/2)) x 100 = S
n - Z

Where
X = Total of checks in the “always” column
Y = Total of checks in the “some extent” column
Z = Total of checks in the “NA” column
n = Number of items in a category (such as Childproof)
S = Score for a component of the program (as a percent)

Step 3: Get each Component Score, or S, add them up, and use the formula below to calculate the overall 1 to 5 star rating.
  • Ease of Use
  • Childproof
  • Educational Value
  • Entertainment Value
  • Design Features
  • Overall Value

÷ 6 = ( x 5) ÷ 100 = stars

Comments:

Here are some questions to ask:
1. Are people from diverse races and ethnicities depicted?
2. Are a variety of ways of life, beliefs, occupations, economic, and geographic situation shown?
3. Are racial and ethnic groups accurately described with regard to language, origin, customs, beliefs, etc.?
4. Are the physical characteristics such as skin tone, facial features, hair color, texture, and style presented authentically?
5. Does the product authentically represent the racial and ethnic groups in our society?
6. Does the language in the product make judgments about racial and/or ethnic groups?

Please note. Permission is granted to use this instrument for educational use, e.g., teacher training. All other uses or adaptations must be done with permission only. Please contact us at 908-284-0404 for additional permissions. © 2002 Children’s Technology Review