The Original MOOC: Can Sesame Street Replace Preschool?

VIRTUAL PREK: Oscar may be a Grouch, but he’s still an excellent preschool teacher. According to a study, access to Sesame Street benefits youngsters at a rate similar to preschool. The paper, published by the University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney and Wellesley College’s Phillip Levine, states that kids living in areas where Sesame Street was broadcast were 14% less likely to fall behind in school, a similar effect as preK program Head Start. The authors attribute the benefits to Sesame Street’s focus on subjects like reading and math, as well as interpersonal skills like cooperation. But despite the friendly neighborhood characters of Sesame Street, the show doesn’t offer the same in-person emotional support or opportunities to develop social skills as a traditional preschool does—a distinction that could be also made between the 21st century MOOC versus the college classroom.

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