MaMaMedia.com: A Playful Learning Place for Kids on the Net

Background

In 1995, in the early days of the Internet, the founder of the World Wide Workshop gathered a small team of educators, business entrepreneurs, computer scientists, and media designers to create an online place for both learning and fun for all children. MaMaMedia.com was invented as the definitive destination on the Internet for children ages 12 and under. Based on 15 years of innovative research projects at MIT and Harvard, the core idea of MaMaMedia.com was to encourage children to use the Internet, starting at a young age, for playful, expre.ssive, and active learning-not just for searching and finding information.

Strategy

MaMaMedia.com application was designed as a "dynamic online toolbox" -- a place that gives children media to create their own media (hence the name). Children can invent their own designs, create digital art and animations, write and publish their own animated stories, and explore topics such as Animals, Poetry, Science, Friendships, Space, Robots, Games, Conservation, Bugs, and much more. Internet media technology was used, for the first time, to create a community for young people to become explorers, designers, builders, artists, and writers.

Design

Since 1995, an impressive collection of unique activities and characters, interactive content, integrated with a dynamic, registration-based, data-base-driven application were developed -- using a combination of technologies on the server side and on the client side. The focus of the application architecture has always been to promote 21st century learning skills to encourage children to:

  • Design and produce their own artwork, animations, and bookmarks
  • Explore hundreds of topics and ideas on the Internet - in a safe environment
  • Communicate and interact with others in meaningful and constructive ways
  • Use their creativity and critical thinking skills to generate and share ideas

MaMaMedia.com also cultivates reading and writing skills, new media literacy, self-expression with digital media, technological fluency, and communication skills within four main "activity channels":

The SURPRISE Channel offers 17 different interactive tools which encourage and challenge children to invent and create their own projects.

The ROMP Channel presents young people with 7 innovative and highly graphical environments for exploring hundreds of topics on the Internet, including Physics, Bugs, Magic, Robots, Stories, Sports, Animals, and many more.

The BUZZ Channel is a safe online community space, where young people can connect in meaningful ways. Children submit their own messages, artwork, jokes, and ideas, on topics such as Movies, Games, Computers, Friendship, and World Peace, among others.

The ZAP Channel offers young people 6 unique design tools to construct their own forms of digital self-expression online. Children use these tools to create personalized characters, digital wallpaper, animations, e-cards, and even t-shirts. This innovative environment encourages children to be designers of media, rather than just consumers.

Outcomes

Millions of children from all around the world have been using the MaMaMedia application and participating in its various clubs, communities and activities. The site grew to become a vibrant online learning community with more than 5.2 million registered users. MaMaMedia.com has received numerous distinguished awards for its innovative design, including: 1999 & 2002 Computerworld Smithsonian Award for excellence in the innovative use of technology in education and media; the GII Award for Best Children's Website, the 1999 and 2000 Best Kids Community Award from Yahoo! Internet Life and the 2002 MIT Network of Educators in Science and Technology.

MaMaMedia Content Library, Characters, & Electronic Assets at a Glance