Ruckus Media Gets Grant From National Science Foundation to Build Collaborative Reading Technology

Ruckus Media, children’s reading platform and publisher of children’s ebook apps, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to build technology that would allow parents and children to read together even when they’re apart. Read Together While Apart technology, as the program is dubbed, will run on networked devices (both mobile and desktop).

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[Press Release]

Ruckus Media Group, an independent family entertainment company, has received a grant from the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) to build Read Together While Apart ™ (RWTA) Technology, a collaboration infrastructure that will run on networked mobile and non-mobile devices and supports a parent and their child reading Ruckus’ eBooks together and playing interactive games in the eBook while the parent and the child are not in the same location.

Academic research supports the observation that when a parent and a child are together, the parent can help the child with his/her reading and improve literacy skills. NSF awarded Ruckus the grant to address the positive contributions that collaboration provides in learning to read and to construct and install functionality inside an interactive eBook that enables the co-activity.

The challenge to collaborative learning comes when the parent is not co-located with the child — when a parent is away from the family home serving in the military or on a business trip, for example. Currently eBook platforms do not provide the opportunity for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to work, in real time, with non-mobile devices like desktop and laptop computers; by automating the process and tapping into the growing ubiquity that networked, mobile technology can address, Ruckus’ RTWA technology will provide a parent and child with the experience of being co-located so they can take advantage of the value of synchronous collaboration.

In addition, RTWA Technology, developed in consultation with Elliot Soloway, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan School of Education and Cathleen Norris, Regents Professor, University of North Texas can support a parent/guardian helping his/her child to learn to read (or vice versa in some cases) and will provide parent resources, scenario-based materials that will describe, in words, pictures and videos, specific ways to interact with children using the Read Together While Apart technology to effectively exploit the technology.

“Nothing fosters literacy like parents, caregivers and kids reading and sharing books together,” says Jason Root, Ruckus’ Chief Content Officer. “Storytelling has a rich read-along, read-out-loud heritage. We are honored to have been selected by the NSF to further our idea of utilizing proprietary mobile technology to create remote read-together experiences in real time. Parents may be separated from their children due to military or business assignments or divorce, and grandparents often live in different states or countries — yet they all want to read with their children. Our goal, simply, is to keep families connected through reading, whether they are physically co-located or not.”

Ruckus Media Group has a proven record of creating award-winning, innovative interactive storybooks, and the company’s passion to entertain and educate children while supporting reading and literacy progress drives all its efforts. Recently, Ruckus announced a partnership with Connecticut Public Television to create a station-branded content delivery and mobile engagement platform for CPTV, with plans to incorporate the RTWA technology into the offerings within this platform as well as those developed for public broadcasting stations nationwide.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year 2012, its budget is $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards nearly $420 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

ABOUT RUCKUS MEDIA GROUP

Ruckus Media Group creates award-winning interactive applications for mobile devices designed to entertain and educate children. Its latest release, the Ruckus app, delights children with interactive storybooks featuring favorite brands (Hasbro, Crayola, SeaWorld); ReadAlong eBook versions of celebrated titles (Curious George, The Polar Express); original content from top names in entertainment (Butch Hartman, The Wiggles); and Video episodes from the best in children’s TV and music (Sid the Science Kid, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!, KidzBop). Parents are provided with feedback on their child’s experiences within the application, including time spent, and reading tips from educators and parents. Since the company’s launch, Ruckus has been recognized with more than 30 parenting and app awards, including a Mom’s Choice Gold Award for the #1 iTunes bestselling “My Little Pony: Twilight Sparkle, Teacher for a Day,” based on the ever-popular Hasbro toy characters and a Kidscreen iKids award for the Crayola Ruckus Readers, among many others.

For a full listing of titles and additional information, please visit our website as well as the Ruckus at the App store and follow Ruckus on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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