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Sexual education (Collection of modern education)

EDUSEX

Edusex is a 'collection of modern sexual education' for young people. The package balances frank explanations with a range of opinions and advice which challenge teenagers to think intelligently about their own social attitudes and sexual behaviour.

Edusex is designed to address teenagers' curiosity, anxiety and embarrassment about sex. The programme draws on the work of sexologists, psychologists and educationalists - as well as designers who understand interactive multimedia - to present a challenging topic in a dynamic new way. Edusex aims to deliver practical data, current research and a range of opinions in a format that is both factual and engaging, informative but non-judgemental.

USING MANY VOICES

The main menu presents a cross-section of a townhouse in a distinctively 'European' piazza. Six 'rooms' lead to presentations from a choice of characters who address a wide range of topics at various levels of intimacy and complexity from the clinical detail of the medical profession to the warmer language of family and friends.

Thus, a doctor explains physiology, contraception, abortion and sexually-transmitted diseases (including AIDS), while a psychologist discusses puberty and adolescence, 'myths and prejudices', masturbation, sexual orientation and sexual practices, and a professor addresses topics such as sex and trade (including advertising, pornography and prostitution), sex roles and stereotyping.

A teenage boy and girl offer more intimate information and advice in separate sections on male and female bodies, healthcare, hygiene and sexual response. Father, mother, little brother and grandmother talk about family life, genetics, fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, sexual violence and harassment ... even the family dog leads to a section on sex and mating in the animal world.

The programme is distinguished for the great care taken both editorially and creatively to present a balanced view which allows individuals to make their own inquiries and draw their own conclusions. The developers canvassed opinion from consultants and specialists in two continents to achieve an informed script which respects the views of parents and peers as well as professionals.

REPRESENTING MANY VIEWS

The project was driven by the twin arms of Giunti Multimedia and the larger Giunti Publishing Group, with direct participation from publishing partner Grupo Anaya and technical partner Irecoop.

Although Giunti's catalogue includes many books on this subject, the technical and creative demands of interactive multimedia, as well as the diversity of the potential audience and the sensitive nature of the material, required an altogether original treatment.

Scriptwriting was co-ordinated by Dr. Piero Stettini, a leading educator and writer who is active in European and international organizations; he drew on ten years of his own research and extensive contacts with colleagues in other countries to achieve a wellrounded view, which was further refined by field testing with teenagers. There will be a formal evaluation, and the developers expect to receive endorsements from ministries of health and education in Italy, France and Germany, which also contributed to the project.

TRANSLATING WITH CARE

The programme is being developed in Italian, and then translated into English, French, German and Spanish, with particular attention to vocabulary and idiom to ensure that each version sounds authentic. Giunti Multimedia's Sofia Scatena reports that the principal challenge lies in achieving the right tone not only for the language being spoken, but also for each character in this large cast of presenters.

Significant input from specialists in Scandinavia and Canada (which Scatena describes as "the leading country in the field of sexual education") also gives the package an international flavour; the developers are further considering the use of animation from Japan.

OUTGROWING THE DISC

The consortium saw multimedia as the 'natural choice' to present this large and complex subject to young people. They recognised the potential of CD-i but the programme itself soon outgrew the storage capacity not only of CD-i, but even a single CD-ROM. With text, audio, graphics, animation and video covering almost ISO topics in 44 chapters, the package is now being produced as a series of five CD-ROM discs, one for each language.

Edusex is built around a hypertext database which allows users to search, compare and cross-reference. Original video footage will complement material from sources including international health organizations, the Italian Ministry of Health and the British Broadcasting Corporation. Like other large projects, this title has involved a combination of authoring (with Director and Toolbook), and programming (in C and C++).

Sofia Scatena observes that "the new users of interactive CDs are families. Today, people buy multimedia titles not because they are interested in electronic gadgets, but for the subject matter itself." Thus, the consortium is evaluating distribution channels ranging from bookshops and other consumer outlets through conventional software distributors to schools, libraries and hospitals.

Sofia Scatena says "we don't foresee any risk in this production of this title, as the subject itself is most interesting and appealing, and the market for electronic publishing is really starting to sparkle' now".


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