The Convergence Zone of Entertainment and Education

From our fall 98 Leisure & Learning Alive newsletter

Today's knowledge-based society is increasingly seeking leisure experiences that combine fun with learning. They also want experiences where their time, even more than money, is being well spent. In many instances, they are seeking transformational experiences where they leave as changed (transformed) individuals.

WHLLG works with projects across the continuum from pure entertainment experiences to total educational ones. In addition to our leisure-oriented projects, we also design childcare facilities, cultural/museum type environments and children's playgrounds which we call children's discovery or adventure play gardens. Many of our leisure projects can be found at the middle of the continuum as they incorporate both fun and learning. When the fun is primary to the motivation to visit, the terms edutainment, agri-tainment, shopertainment and eatertainment are sometimes used. When the learning is primary, they are usually school and cultural type institutions.

Convergence zone is being used to describe the middle of the continuum and the development of new models of leisure experiences that combine fun and learning, regardless of which has the emphasis. Industry paradigms can be very powerful and leave you with myopic vision. WHLLG's research and project development is leading us to new models in the convergence zone for community-based projects that break from the traditional formulas.

One project currently on the drawing board will be new hybrid leisure model that operates in the convergence zone. It will combine entertainment, learning, culture and socialization. The Qatar children's leisure, learning and cultural center will combine forms of entertainment, recreation and socialization with historical and culture elements including traditional art, artisans and crafts people and learning experiences including environmental education. learning labs and curriculum-based field trips.

Through their cultural-based themes, both the Qatar center's elements and experiences will be woven into a cohesive whole rather than be individual disjointed components. Since it will take edutainment into the cultural realm as well, we are still looking for a new term to describe the concept. In the meanwhile, we call them 'leisure, learning and cultural centers.'

The Qatar center is about 30,000 square feet plus an outdoor area. This limits the facility to targeting an age niche of infancy to about nine years old. With larger mega-size projects, it is possible to extend the convergence zone to activities for all ages of guests, including families and just not children.