‘How can emerging media help children learn?’ A timely question these days, but it was asked some 40 years ago in the landmark report from Joan Ganz Cooney that led to the creation of Sesame Street and eventually Sesame Workshop. And in that spirit, the non-profit org has established The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which will apply the same question to researching today’s digital landscape and its effect on kids ages six to 11.
Launched in New York in mid-December last year, the new open-source think tank is aiming not only to provide original research into how digital media can accelerate kids’ literacy, but also to facilitate dialogue between academic and industry researchers working in the field and then apply the newfound knowledge to new media and product development.
As such, the center will begin publishing quarterly research reports, making them available to any interested party. Additionally, there are plans afoot to start bringing academics and industry types under one roof. The center, says executive director Michael Levine, will be inviting folks from research, policy, education and consumer products fields for a day-long symposium in the spring to talk about how kids are currently using digital media, outline best practices, and identify where investment capital should be channeled. Also keep your eyes peeled for the launch of an online community to start fostering digital connections in May.
In keeping with its open-source mantra, the org will not be charging fees for its research or its invite-only events. So far, the center counts Peter G. Peterson, chairman and co-founder of The Blackstone Group, Harvey Weinstein, Genius Products and Sesame Workshop among its benefactors.