No, Sesame Street Was Not the First MOOC

Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Jun 22, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Audrey Watters does some good debunking in this article. It follows coverage of a paper from Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine about Sesame Street: “The Original MOOC: Can Sesame Street Replace Preschool?” in Edsurge, and “Sesame Street was the original MOOC,” from the Brookings Institution. Of course it's ridiculous to assert that Sesame Street was the first MOOC. Part of the problem with the coverage is that Kearney and Levine doesn't really talk about MOOCs. Another part is that the coverage gets Sesame Street wrong as well; we are told "that Sesame Street has not been researched, 'that perhaps the biggest, yet least costly, early childhood intervention, Sesame Street, has largely gone unnoticed.'" writes Watters. But "Sesame Street is the most researched television show in history – and not just researched after-the-fact to ascertain how it’s affected students’ literacy and numeracy skills, but researched throughout the design and development process."

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