The ZooMoo Philosophy
ZooMoo is a new network for children aged 3-7. Its mission is to create a safe and exciting environment across multiple screens, to stimulate young bodies and minds.
Early Childhood Experts
To support its mission, ZooMoo's creators have collaborated with world renowned early childhood educationalists from the University of Otago, New Zealand’s premier university.
Educational advisors to ZooMoo are:
- Professor Jeff Smith, A.B. (Princeton) Ph.D. (Chicago)
- Greg Carroll, DipTeaching, BEd, DipEdMan
- Helen Cartwright, BE (Early Childhood), DipTeaching (Early Childhood), Associate Teachers' Diploma (Speech and Drama)
- Dr Carla Fisher, BA (Rochester), MA (New School Uni, New York), Ed.D (Columbia)
Input from these and other childhood education experts was central to the creative thinking around the ZooMoo channel and application since its inception. Channel programme blocks, their playout and the interaction between Channel programming and the ZooMoo App are all based on advice received from childhood education experts.
ZooMoo's creators continue to meet with the ZooMoo Educational Advisory Panel regularly. Educational advisors discuss and review programming as it is being produced for the Channel and Application, and will continue to remain involved.
ZooMoo’s programming grid or schedule is built on a one-hour block format, repeated throughout the broadcast day. Each block is organized into five themed strands; Explore Time, Create Time, Play Time, Puzzle Time and Quiet Time. ZooMoo’s educational experts have stressed that the consistency of this structure is critical for learning and skill-building in preschoolers.
The episodes may seem rigorously formulaic to an adult but to preschoolers this repetition isn’t boring. Each time they watch a show, they experience it in a completely different way. In this way, repetition is a tool to maximize comprehension, hold children’s attention and increase audience participation. Children are not only tolerant of repetition, they respond to it enthusiastically.
Researchers conducting field tests of ZooMoo programming found the attention and comprehension of young viewers increases with each repeated viewing. Initially audience participation is low because children are focusing on unfamiliar material. After five viewings, more of the children’s cognitive resources are available for interaction and participation.
The ZooMoo App is available for download from popular App stores. It is designed to work alongside the ZooMoo channel to extend and reinforce children's learning about, and love for, the animal world. It does this by providing children with ZooMoo Island - an animal sanctuary where they can interact with and look after over 100 animals.
The app works as a stand alone experience, where children can feed and look after animals, pose them for photos, watch video clips and learn each animals name and how common or rare they are. Experimentation and fun is encouraged so that children can learn at their own pace, and in their own way. After the initial app download, no Internet connection is required. The App is also totally free with no in-app purchases or advertising.
Combine the TV channel and the App together though, and really interesting things start to happen! The App's "sync" function is triggered when it comes within earshot of television broadcasts of the ZooMoo Channel. The App is activated by an acoustic watermark that is inaudible to our ears but is easily detected by the microphones included in smart phones and tablets. The App recognises ZooMoo shows and unlocks additional content relevant to the shows.
For example, programme Block 1 is broadcast on the ZooMoo Channel from 8-9am on Monday. If the App is running while the show is on, a child may be able to collect an Elephant and other animals on the App. Effectively the TV is "feeding" new content to the App. When the same programming (Block 1) is repeated again, the App will know automatically not to deliver a second elephant to the child when she is watching and instead the child will collect something different, perhaps food to feed her elephant.
On the advice of ZooMoo’s educational advisors, the App avoids expecting children to interact with the App and the Channel at the same time. Young children simply don't have the "bandwidth" to be able to switch between two tasks. Instead, the channel introduces new ideas and animals, and the app provides reinforcement and additional content that a child can work through at their own pace.
In this way, the ZooMoo Channel and App work together to provide the best possible learning and entertainment environment for children. The repetition of programme blocks on the ZooMoo Channel allows children to become familiar with the animals and environments they are seeing on the Channel. This familiarity promotes children’s curiosity and interest in the Channel subject matter. The App feeds this curiosity and interest by giving children an ever-changing environment in which to interact with the animals they’ve seen on their television screen.