We are grateful that Foreword INDIES Awards pioneered an AR book category for the Foreword INDIES awards, and blessed to be an Augmented Reality Book of the Year. Whenever we demo Pacha’s Pajamas, we love seeing the amazement that children and even adults feel the first time they hover the app over our augmented reality children’s book. It is a magical experience when children see the books come to life but besides the wonder of technology, there are benefits to multimedia learning backed by science.
Researchers have thought that children can better comprehend stories enhanced by technology and studies have shown that the multimedia additions can help them visualize the story. We use animations that are congruent to the story such as the whale feeling free again after a Hummingbird helps remove the plastic bag blocking its blowhole. By using multimedia to tell the story, children can visualize and understand the whale’s emotions, adding to the impact that words have.
Many children have access to digital devices from a young age and it is increasingly difficult for traditional print books to capture their attention. This is a big problem for publishers as children give up reading for games and the reading rate has been going down. In AR books, technology meets print for a richer storytelling format. For example, our environmental children’s book teaches children valuable life lessons about like climate change while keeping them engaged with a multimedia element.
In a 2015 study, Takacs et. al found evidence that electronic stories and books had potential to add to children’s literacy development.
“Multimedia features such as animated illustrations and music and sound effects were found to be beneficial; in contrast, interactive elements such as hotspots and games – even the ones that are intended to facilitate understanding of the story content – were not.”
Since AR books like Pacha’s Pajamas use animations and music to add to the storytelling, we offer a solution to parents looking to improve their child’s reading comprehension and expressive word learning. Interactive books, on the other hand, can distract readers from the story with puzzles and challenges.
According to an APA article on improving learning that listed principles of learning, combining graphics with verbal descriptions and contiguity apply to augmented reality books that use multimedia more than interactive stories. “Materials presented in verbal, visual and multimedia form are richer representations than those with a single modality or medium.” In addition, placing the relevant multimedia in close proximity to the corresponding parts of the story makes the book flow better for enhanced comprehension.
One of the biggest challenges faced is how to engage children in learning activities when there are digital distractions like games and videos that shorten children’s attention span. Some of the ways to teach with technology include mobile learning and educational games. As the study shows, multimedia books could be a better alternative as they make reading more engaging but do not distract from the story. Pacha’s Pajamas has earned several awards and we are seeing more interest in AR. There is certainly potential for AR books to continue gaining recognition and we can make learning fun again!