Highlights of Results
Because the research design employed multiple methods (with both naturalistic and experimental phases), hundreds of subjects, and multiple measures, a full explication of the results of the study would be prohibitively long. Thus, we present the major findings of the study here. Interested readers can find further details in the full report on the study (see Fisch, Lesh, Motoki, Crespo, & Melfi, 2010).
Use of Multiple Media
As noted earlier, the benefits of cross-platform learning can arise only if children choose to use multiple media platforms in the first place—and the results of the present study suggest they do. Data from the naturalistic phase indicated that children’s use of Cyberchase was consistent over time and spanned multiple media; in almost every case, path analyses revealed significant relationships between use of Cyberchase from month to month, and between use of the Cyberchase television series and website (p <.05). Those children who chose to use Cyberchase typically did not engage in one-time use. Instead, they became “Cyberchase fans” whose interest in Cyberchase sustained itself over a period of several months and carried across television and the Web.
Certainly, we must be careful in generalizing from Cyberchase to children’s use of other educational media projects. Every project is different and may be used differently. However, there are good reasons to believe that the patterns of use observed for Cyberchase may be typical of children’s media use as a whole. First, although use of SpongeBob Squarepants was higher than Cyberchase overall (a finding consistent with Nielsen ratings), data from children’s use of SpongeBob Squarepants during the naturalistic phase followed similar patterns to those found for Cyberchase; it was consistent from month to month, and significant relationships were found between use of the SpongeBob Squarepants television series and website. Second, other research on children’s Web use (unrelated to Cyberchase) also supports the relationship between television and the Web. For example, approximately one-half of 2009’s ten most popular children’s websites were associated with television programs or characters (Kido’z, 2009).