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2010 Awards

Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) with Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

Project Title: Expanded Learning Through Transmedia Content
PR Award Number: U295A100025
5-Year Funding Total: $71,440,157

List of Creative Partners: PBS, Sesame Workshop, WGBH, The Jim Henson Company, KCET, Out of the Blue Enterprises, Cloud Kid, Random House, and Snowflake Films
List of Outreach Partners: Chicago Public Schools Virtual Pre-K/K, Boston University School of Education, National Summer Learning Association, Collaborative for Building After School Programs, and local public television stations and their community partners including Title I Schools
Researchers/Evaluators: Education Development Center Inc. and SRI International; WestEd

Overview of Programming:

"Expanded Learning Through Transmedia Content," a joint partnership between CPB and PBS, is designed to raise math and literacy achievement among high-risk children through a cutting-edge educational ecosystem of integrated transmedia content. In collaboration with a diverse and visionary group of producers, academics, technologists and community partners, this project will develop transmedia learning resources by:

  • using and testing a variety of story-driven transmedia content on multiple delivery platforms: video content for new online and on-air math properties, interactive online games (including 3D-rendered collaborative challenges and immersive games), mobile applications (including augmented reality games), and interactive white-board applications;
  • encouraging and facilitating parent and educator use by developing innovative tools, including a personalized progress tracker for tracking a child's learning, a transmedia content wrapper to connect all content on a single device and to the progress tracker, and modding tools to enable teachers to adapt content to their classroom needs;
  • employing an iterative production process that will guide development and assess effectiveness;
  • creating and aligning content with rigorous academic frameworks and state standards in math and literacy to ensure high-quality measurable outcomes;
  • collaborating with content and technology experts to create transmedia learning content in math and literacy that motivates children and raises achievement levels;
  • working closely with advisor Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that provides the global standard for open content licenses, to optimize and deliver our open educational resource components, making them widely accessible and reusable;
  • partnering with schools, expanded learning organizations, and other community organizations to facilitate widespread use of transmedia tools and resources; and,
  • conducting an overarching summative evaluation to assess the efficacy of our approach on increasing math and literacy skills and raising student achievement.

Overview of Outreach:

In addition to reaching millions of disadvantaged children and their parents and teachers directly through PBS's national broadcast distribution channels, Internet, and digital platforms, CPB and PBS will provide unparalleled scale for the project through a powerful model of national-local collaboration with local public media stations and grassroots partners. CPB, PBS, and local partners will support community engagement to introduce families to transmedia learning resources and foster stronger home-school-expanded learning connections. We will ensure the effective implementation of these high-quality learning tools in schools, out-of-school settings, and homes through strategic partnerships with the Chicago Public Schools, and Boston University's School of Education, as well as the National Summer Learning Association and the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems.

Outreach strategies will include a complementary range of interactive, just-in-time tools for parents, educators and community educators; a collection of professional development resources for teachers; out-of-school learning modules for community educators; digital content clusters designed to support family involvement in education; community-based partnerships; and a virtual community of practice.

Overview of Research:

CPB and PBS have enlisted industry leaders in educational research – EDC, SRI and WestEd – to spearhead the evaluation component of this project. The goal of WestEd's formative research is to determine the effects of transmedia content on student numeracy and literacy achievement for all students and student subgroups. Evaluation methods will include three randomized control trials of transmedia gaming suites, and eight mixed method studies of 3D-rendered games, transmedia gaming narratives, television programming, progress tracking and parents support materials, modding tools, teachers' use of game wrappers, and classroom game creation.

The goal of EDC/SRI's summative research is to identify the impacts of transmedia interventions targeting preschool and elementary-aged children on math and literacy learning. EDC/SRI will also examine how educator and caregiver actions, as well as characteristics of the expanded learning settings, mediate student learning. Evaluation methods will include four preliminary context studies (target program survey; program quality observation study; digital learning library implementation study; parent/caregiver study), three pilot implementation studies (transmedia gaming; preschool intervention; afterschool intervention) and two randomized control trial, large-scale impact studies (preschool intervention; afterschool intervention).

Project Website:

Project Contacts:

CPB: Pamela Johnson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Ready to Learn at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Washington, DC, 202/879-9684,

PBS: Sara DeWitt, Vice President, PBS KIDS Interactive, PBS, Arlington, VA, 703/739-5486,

Researcher/Evaluator Contacts:

EDC: Shelley Pasnik, Director of the Center for Children and Technology, 212/807-4255,

SRI: Bill Penuel, Director of Evaluation Research for the Center for Technology, 650/859-5001,

WestEd: Steve Schneider, Senior Program Director, Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics, 650/381-6410,; Betsy McCarthy, Senior Research Associate, 650/381-6441,

Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc. (HITN)

Project Title: Project LAMP (Learning Apps Media Partnership)
PR Award Number: U295A100016
5-Year Funding Total: $30 million

List of Creative Partners: Callaway Digital Arts,
Key Outreach Partners:  Bank Street College (NY), Hunter College (NY)
Research/Evaluator: Michael Cohen Group LLC

Overview of Programming:

Project LAMP will create highly engaging transmedia learning applications to build reading and math skills for children ages 3-8. Across three unique properties, the content will be largely available as an open educational resource on multiple platforms including books, iPad, and iPhone/iPod Touch applications, mobile device applications, interactive websites, and television.

All content will have broad appeal, be highly engaging, have high educational impact, and will specifically target low-income children and their caregivers. The content will align with the 2010 Common Core State Standards in Math and English Language Arts and promote essential skills defined by the National Early Literacy Panel and the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

Miss Spider's World. This will be an immersive, cloud-based, transmedia ecosystem based on the popular children's books, television series, and award-winning apps developed by Callaway Digital Arts. Children ages 3-5 will be able to interact with Miss Spider and her friends, read and listen to stories, watch videos, create original art, and enjoy engaging games and activities, built on research-based curricula. As children move through the stories and activities, they will progress through individualized, leveled curricula, which guide them through early literacy and mathematics concepts at their own pace. Whether accessing activities through apps, the web, or other transmedia platforms, each child's progress will be measured through an integrated assessment system. Feedback from this system will be provided to parents, caregivers, and educators so they can support and expand children's learning in the real world.

New Transmedia Property (to be identified). Content for students ages 5-8 will cater to the more sophisticated and expansive interests of first and second graders through an enhanced range of social and interactive options. This property will also incorporate analytics for continuous improvement and ongoing research.

English Language Learner Property (to be identified). To reduce the achievement gap for low-income preschool children whose primary language is Spanish, this transmedia property (title TBD) will specifically focus on building English language skills and key components of early literacy and numeracy, like vocabulary, oral language, comprehension, numbers, and number-related words. All elements of this property will be based on research-based instructional practices. HITN will lead the development of this property, marking the first time in the history of Ready to Learn that a Hispanic organization will be primarily responsible for creating content for the Hispanic community.

Overview of Outreach:

Outreach for Project LAMP will use new and traditional media to engage children, parents, caregivers, and educators with the project's educational content to improve student achievement in literacy, numeracy, and English language learning.

To create awareness of Project LAMP, widely disseminate outreach materials, and gain audience insight throughout development of the properties, Project LAMP will partner with: 1) persistently low-achieving schools; 2) community-based organizations; 3) accredited postsecondary institutions; 4) a postsecondary media production program; and 5) national educational organizations.

Outreach efforts will include a web portal that will serve as a central gateway for all content and activities. It will provide a way for children and families to meet their individual needs and post user-generated content. It will also enable children, parents/caregivers, family members, and educators from multiple locations to interact with each other.

Overview of Research:

Project LAMP's research and evaluation will accomplish two goals: 1) inform the development of the three educational transmedia properties through formative research; and 2) provide an objective, scientific summative evaluation of the educational effectiveness of each property.

Formative research will provide feedback to developers through multiple studies with children from the target group in the programs they attend. Researchers will use one-on-one and small group interview techniques while children explore/experience properties at different development phases.

The summative research will not only determine the educational effectiveness of the individual properties, it will also contribute to a new body of research on the impact of educational technology on improving school readiness for low-income and ELL children. Using a randomized control trial design with additional beta trial, researchers will assess: 1) student learning; and 2) usability or how well factors like design, functionality, and content contribute to educational effectiveness. Analyses of analytics from embedded assessments will strengthen the research and optimize findings.

Research challenges include: 1) tracking children's process of use and interaction with educational media by collecting and analyzing detailed digital log data (analytics); 2) capturing complex interactions with multiple media and clarifying the impact of individualized exposure variations; and 3) designing randomized control trials that account for differences in children's exposure to educational media properties by identifying patterns of use and learning style as variations.

Project Websites:;;

Project Contact:

Linda Hernandez
Co-Project Director, Project LAMP
Chief Operating Officer, HITN

Researcher/Evaluator Contacts:

Michael Cohen, PhD, President
Martha Hadley PhD, Managing Director
Michael Cohen Group LLC,

Window to the World Communications, Inc. (WTTW)

Project Title: UMIGO
PR Award Number: U295A100026
5-Year Funding Total: $32,500,000

List of Creative Partners: W!ldbrain Entertainment
List of Outreach Partners: Children's Museum of Manhattan, WTTW
Researcher/Evaluator: The Michael Cohen Group, LLC

Overview of Programming

UMIGO ("yoU Make It GO") is a unique and innovative transmedia experience for children ages two through eight that provides children with opportunities to learn basic principles of mathematics through child-initiated learning and play. UMIGO will also encourage children to develop and refine their abilities to think creatively, invent, and work collaboratively.

UMIGO's curriculum is based on rigorous mathematics standards and encompasses two of the best practices from the Common Core Standards for Mathematics: problem solving and the use of strategically appropriate tools. The curriculum enhances the media that it is delivered, as the digital instructional opportunities are linked to meaningful feedback through the use of embedded assessment tools and analytics, thereby making the achievement of the child's goals more individualized and developmentally appropriate. These analytics are also reported to the parents, caregivers, and educators who can assist in their development with greater precision.

There are multiple entry points into the transmedia world of UMIGO, including computers, cell phones, touch screen devices, print and digital books, board games and trading cards. On digital platforms, children log on, join for free, create their own personalized avatar, and use it to navigate the UMIGO world. Once in UMIIGO, they receive a universal toolkit to use in creating, exploring and learning, as well as navigating across the platforms. Two recurring characters appear on every platform and provide the link between the different transmedia components children experience, and serve as the friendly faces that provide continuity and guidance for young learners.

The world of UMIGO is not just one place, but many places where children can learn, build and share. Through a variety of activities, children will use various mathematical skills to design clothing, "mash-up" their own musical beats and create songs, produce their own virtual mazes as video game "levels," and create their own magazines and videos to share with others. Each of these different areas of UMIGO have different functions, with corresponding toolkits and learning libraries where students can search for and gather information about various tools and get help with their creations. UMIGO also offers children an opportunity to share their creations, which can be viewed by others in the UMIGO community. Like Wikipedia, UMIGO libraries grow continually as users add new content to share.

Overview of Outreach

UMIGO outreach will:

  • Provide input from low-income communities in the development of UMIGO's products;
  • Further understanding of how children and families in the target audience access and use media-based tools;
  • Develop strategies for the use of these products in these communities;
  • Create and execute a long-term dissemination plan informed by this process.

Collaboration with partners includes a post-secondary media production program, a college teacher preparation program, and students – in the form of college and high-school interns at community outreach sites. Students ages two through eight from across the demographic of the target audience will inform UMIGO's content development by providing feedback from field explorations in target communities.

Materials and information generated will include teacher lesson plans, teaching strategies, caregiver engagement strategies and materials, outreach activities, and digital resources such as e-books, music, video and photography. UMIGO's outreach plan offers a flexible set of options that can be adjusted to changing product development and ongoing research results.

The UMIGO web site will provide a variety of Open Educational Resources (OER) for low- income children, and the parents, caregivers, and educators who serve them. The OER resources will offer high-quality content, research-based teaching strategies, and outreach activities.

Overview of Research

Research will provide an independent, objective, and scientific evaluation of the UMIGO transmedia experience. Research and evaluation for UMIGO will:

  • Inform content development;
  • Assess its educational effectiveness;
  • Explore new media and the social environment in which it exists;
  • Disseminate findings to educators, policy makers, and others.

The nature of a transmedia delivery model poses methodological challenges for the evaluation of UMIGO. Those challenges include: (1) the "invisibility" of the data; (2) the need to capture children's complex interactions with multiple media and to define the effects of exposure to a single or groups of platforms; (3) the design of appropriate interventions for treatment conditions of an experimental randomized control trial, as the transmedia experience is different for each child. To address those challenges, research and evaluation of UMIGO will employ small beta trials and analytics (of digital logs of children's activities) along with classic formative and summative methodologies in order to examine student processes and strategies data as well as learning outcomes. Hypotheses to be tested include (1) the power of dosage or exposure (including frequency) to predict variation in children's learning outcomes, and (2) the power of exposure to predict students' self-confidence levels with and positive attitudes toward mathematics.

Project Director:

Parke Richeson
Executive in Charge, National Programming, WTTW; 804-360-0107
Michael Polis,
President, W!LDBRAIN Entertainment; 818-290-7080

Researcher/Evaluator Contacts:

Michael Cohen, PhD and Minda Frank, MA
President; Managing Director
Co-Principal Investigators for the Evaluation
The Michael Cohen Group LLC,

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Last Modified: 05/04/2011