In the previous case studies, we illustrated how the principles of learning were used to design two museum exhibitions and one long-term program. Learning through media requires some different design strategies, although the basic learning principles still apply. Television producers of educational experiences with a focus on science cannot provide viewers the opportunity to interact directly with actual phenomena. Instead, their challenge is to find another approach to make science experiences come alive. So they opt for the next best thing—showing viewers what scientific investigations look like, which they call “interactivity.” In fact, they describe their job as “telling a story about science inquiry”; the possibility for interactivity lies in reproducing the process at home, with support potentially available from the Internet. To encourage this to happen, producers strive to develop accompanying activities that use the best design principles in informal learning. Such supplementary learning experiences (often supported by an interactive website) have become the norm for television documentaries, IMAX movies, and planetarium shows.
The next case study describes the storytelling devices unique to this medium that producers rely on to encourage science learning. The case study is followed by a discussion of the learning that results after elementary school students watch an episode of DragonflyTV: Going Places in Science, which is produced by Twin Cities Public Television.
“Learning through media requires some different design strategies, although the basic learning principles still apply.”