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Grover Comes to the Harvard Graduate School of Education!

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street has joined forces with the Harvard Graduate School of Education to explore how electronic media can benefit children educationally.

An HGSE faculty member has designed a new course, "Informal Learning for Children," consulting closely with Sesame experts. The course, which begins today, will explore Sesame Workshop's model of integrating research, educational content and production.

HGSE and Sesame Workshop will collaborate on an action plan to create informal educational methods for children between the ages of six and nine, building on Sesame Workshop's successful model for pre-schoolers. The collaboration is beginning with two components: the HGSE course on how media can improve health behaviors and a Web-based bulletin board to foster collaboration between students and executives. HGSE faculty member Joseph Blatt will lead the course. Top executives from Sesame Workshop, including President and CEO Gary Knell, Executive Vice President of Content Development and Management Karen Gruenberg, and Vice President for Education and Research Susan Royer will also work closely with HGSE students.

This is not the first time these two educational institutions have shared ideas. In the late 1960s, when Sesame Workshop (formerly Children's Television Workshop) created Sesame Street, a number of HGSE faculty members played critical roles in shaping the series. In the mid 1970s, the Center for Research in Children's Television was established, fostering collaboration between faculty members and students to create content for Children's Television Workshop, including both The Electric Company and Sesame Street.

"I am very pleased that Sesame Workshop and the Harvard Graduate School of Education are revitalizing this historic relationship," said Knell. "This new initiative represents a terrific opportunity for Harvard's graduate students and, I believe, a valuable resource for both Sesame Workshop and Harvard."

Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, Warren Professor and Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education added: "In a media saturated environment, there are very few stand-outs when it comes to programming that can benefit young children in a positive way. It's very exciting for us as a School to pair our expertise on K-12 education with Sesame Workshop's unmatched ability to reach and motivate young children."

Through lectures, discussions and hands-on experiences, the HGSE course will focus on how media can improve six to nine-year-olds' health behaviors, with particular attention to nutrition and physical activity. The capstone project for the course, to be completed in small groups, is a proposal for a media product or other informal educational intervention. Students will submit written proposals and also present them orally to Sesame Workshop participants, who will provide feedback.

Students enrolled in the HGSE course will study how to recognize opportunities and assess needs for informal learning interventions; how to conduct, assemble, and synthesize research on media-based teaching and learning in a particular domain; how to design, test, and revise materials that are responsive to particular audiences and objectives; how to make diversity a fundamental component of the design process; and how to gauge the short- and long-term impact of an intervention.

The Web-based bulletin board, hosted on HGSE's Technology, Innovation, and Education Program's Internet site, will alert students and faculty to research opportunities associated with Sesame Workshop projects. In addition, research and fieldwork experiences will be available for all HGSE students, with the participation of Sesame Workshop site supervisors via e-mail, telephone, and shared Internet work spaces.

The new course's focus on health and exercise corresponds with Sesame Workshop's latest initiative, Healthy Habits for Life, a multi-year campaign to help young children and their caregivers establish an early foundation of healthy habits that can last a lifetime.


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