Sesame Workshop President and Founder Gary Knell and White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra joined up to announce the winners of the workshop’s Cooney Center Prizes for Innovation in Children’s Learning.
It’s certainly not the first time the Obama Administration and Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind revered PBS kids show Sesame Street, have been seen together. But it’s more notable for us because it’s at least the second such joint appearance in the ed-tech world; Knell helped introduce Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski at a March speech that outlined the National Broadband Plan’s implication for children and families. Elmo also made a guest appearance.
As for the winners, Project NOAH, a mobile application that teaches students about nature and serves as a platform for research groups to mobilize citizens, captured honors in the ‘Breakthroughs in Mobile Learning’ category, while The Electric Company Heroes, an online game using role playing to teach literary skills, won top honors in the ‘Breakthroughs in Literacy Learning: Innovate with The Electric Company’ category. As you might expect, that category challenged entrants to revive characters from the 1970s educational show to help create a virtual education tool.
The Sesame Workshop is widely respected throughout the educational world. And aligning any innovative concepts—digital or not—with a staple of this nation’s educational fabric is a sound move. But, by aligning education technology with public television, doesn’t this also illustrate the administration’s recurring theme that technology should be distributed equitably as a public good?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.