In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Educational Media

  • Introduction
  • Core Texts
  • Journals and Resources
  • Theory Regarding How Children Learn from Media
  • Adult Mediation
  • Designing and Researching Educational Media

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Communication Educational Media
Shalom Fisch
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 May 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0147


All too frequently, discussions of the effects of electronic media on children focus solely on the negative, such as the impact of violent television programs or video games. Such research is certainly important, and has had a critical impact on policy and legislation in the United States. However, an extensive research literature also indicates that well-crafted educational television programs can make significant positive contributions to children’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes in areas such as literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and (among preschoolers) school readiness. Moreover, long-term positive effects of educational television have been found to endure for years. Because interactive media are newer than television, the research literature concerning such media is less extensive, particularly with regard to long-term learning effects. However, a growing body of evidence indicates that computer games and other interactive media also provide a context for children to acquire and exercise academic knowledge and skills.

Core Texts

Although the research literature concerning children’s learning from educational media is substantial (see the discussion for Journals and Resources), relatively few texts have been devoted exclusively to this topic. The books cited in this section present in-depth reviews of empirical research, establish theoretical approaches for studying and understanding children’s learning from media, and provide guidance for both future research and the design and production of effective educational media. Research on educational television can be found in Fisch 2004, whereas the other books focus on various aspects of interactive media: the pioneering work of Papert 1980, literature reviews by Tobias and Fletcher 2011 and Honey and Hilton 2011, and principles of effective game design in Salen and Zimmermann 2004.

  • Fisch, S. M. 2004. Children’s learning from educational television: Sesame Street and beyond. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    This book reviews empirical research on learning from television (regarding literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies, effects of prosocial television, and the role of adult mediation. Theoretical chapters discuss cognitive mechanisms underlying comprehension of educational content on television, transfer of learning from television to new situations, and the role of social factors (e.g., identification with characters) in learning.

  • Honey, M., and M. L. Hilton. 2011. Learning science through computer games and simulations. Washington, DC: National Academies.

    Growing out of an in-depth National Research Council study panel, this book reviews research on learning science through interaction with digital simulations and games. It considers the potential for games and simulations to contribute to learning science in school, informal out-of-school settings, and everyday life. The book also sets agendas for future research and development to capitalize on this potential.

  • Papert, S. 1980. Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books.

    This seminal work proposes couching instruction in a computer-based learning environment that complements the ways in which children learn and think. The book lays the foundation for the development of Papert’s child-appropriate programming language Logo (and its modern successors, Scratch and Scratch Jr.), as well as much of today’s research on educational uses of interactive media.

  • Salen, K., and E. Zimmermann. 2004. Rules of play: Game design fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Aimed primarily at game developers, this book holds equal value for researchers by establishing a theoretical framework and critical vocabulary for analyzing and creating games. Drawing upon both digital and non-digital games, the book views games as designed systems that can provide contexts for social play, storytelling, and learning, and examines factors that promote meaningful play.

  • Tobias, S., and J. D. Fletcher. 2011. Computer games and instruction. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

    This collection of essays reviews research evidence concerning the educational impact of computer games as well as the history of games and their uses in education and for training by the military. A broad range of related topics is also covered, including gender differences in game use and explorations of games in the context of contemporary theories of instruction.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.