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Sesame Workshop and IBM Team Up to Create Tailored Learning Tools

The new alliance aims to bring educational platforms and products that adapt to individual learning preferences for preschoolers.

Tickle Me Elmo may be able to help children spell and improve their literacy skills in the future, thanks to a new partnership between Sesame Workshop and IBM.

Sesame Workshop, the producers of Sesame Street, announced today a collaboration to use IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology to bring personalized educational experiences to preschoolers. Entering a three-year partnership now, the Sesame-IBM team will create educational platforms and products that adapt to the learning preferences and aptitude levels of individual preschoolers.

Sesame Workshop will bring its expertise on early childhood education gathered over the course of 45 years of research and more than 1,000 studies on best-practices for early education.

"A generation ago, Sesame Street used the ubiquitous presence of television to reach vulnerable children who did not have access to the learning opportunities that affluent and middle-class kids did. It worked very well,” said Jeffrey Dunn, CEO of Sesame Workshop, in a prepared statement. “Now, through this collaboration with IBM and Watson, we expect to develop the next generation of tailored learning tools.”

Additionally, Watson’s language processing and other cognitive technologies will be used to invent highly personalized learning experiences that can complement instruction from parents and teachers.

Todd Rose, one of the project’s independent advisors and the director of Mind, Brain, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, noted that not all children learn the same way and plans to develop unique platforms that reflect this fact. "This partnership has the potential to meet the unique educational needs of every child, whether it's through customized content or kid-friendly tools that empower each child to find his or her own path to learning,” he said in a prepared statement.

Currently, Sesame and IBM are in the brainstorming stages of the partnership, “exploring and iterating on a wide variety of interactive platforms and interfaces for use in home and school,” according to a news release. They plan to bring prototypes to educational technology leaders for feedback and domain expertise.  

More information on the partnership can be found on the IBM site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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