Multimedia &children's Conflict Resolution

Period of Performance: 08/01/2000 - 03/31/2001

$147K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Academic Edge, Inc.
Bloomington, IN 47408
Principal Investigator

Abstract

There is a national need for conflict resolution and peace education. Skit- based performances and open discussion are two frequently successful methods of working with children to develop conflict resolution skills. This project proposes creating an ongoing series of videos that explore various conflict situations, streaming these serials over the web into classrooms, and providing a web-based conferencing forum for children to discuss the situations presented in the skits with each other, and, uniquely, with therapists experienced with conflict resolution and the actors playing the characters in the skits, thereby fostering communities among participating classrooms. Phase I will (l) produce two of these serials, (2) develop in-class support materials, called "support structures," for the participating teachers, (3) setup the online conference rooms, and (4) integrate these resources within a web-based learning environment. Design and development will follow a user-centered design methodology with teacher and student participation in several iterations of the various components of the package. Three summative evaluation activities will be conducted as part of the test of feasibility: analysis of (1) the classroom experiences when using the materials, (2) the online dialogue of the student-participants, and (3) the data gathered from a a pre-post design. The classes will participate at the same time and will consist of a class from five schools: Connecticut, Vermont, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan. Additional measures of feasibility include the product itself and the budgetary and resource expenditures necessary to complete it. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: Schools must play a part in developing competent, socially-aware members of our society. Recent events in Littleton, CO, Port Huron, MI, and elsewhere have only served to thrust the importance of this activity to the forefront. Safe Schools and similar initiatives make this a recognized, often mandated need. By delivering these materials in this manner, we will be able to reach many more children than could be reached with location-centered performances. STARStreams will be a cost-effective means of providing conflict resolution support to large numbers of students. Its salience is particularly evident since many school systems are finding their mental health support staff must spend a great deal of their time doing assessments and conducting meetings rather than in intervention implementation. Any efforts that can be integrated by teachers into their classrooms should prove to be beneficial to and popular with schools. After proven in this form, additional markets include parents, prisons, and other social agencies.