Sesame & IBM Team for Early Education Initiative


NEW YORK/ARMONK: Sesame Workshop has partnered with IBM to use IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology and Sesame’s early childhood expertise to help advance preschool education around the globe.

Under the three-year pact, Sesame Workshop and IBM will collaborate to develop educational platforms and products meant to adapt to the learning preferences and aptitude levels of individual preschoolers. The two companies are currently working on various interactive platforms and interfaces for use at home and in schools. They plan to test and share prototypes with leaders in the education and technology communities and will continue to refine their products based on the feedback they receive in order to find the best ways in which cognitive computing can help preschoolers learn.

“We believe that bringing education together with technology is a key to improving early learning in this country and around the world,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, the CEO of Sesame Workshop. “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. Now, through this collaboration with IBM and Watson, we expect to develop the next generation of tailored learning tools. Ultimately, the goal is to provide children from all socio-economic backgrounds with the opportunity for meaningful, personalized education in their most formative years.”

“Watson is uniquely suited to tackling one of society’s most pressing and important challenges—the ways in which our young children learn,” noted Harriet Green, IBM’s general manager for Watson IoT, Commerce and Education. “The potential for Watson to absorb, correlate and learn from huge amounts of unstructured data and then deliver very personalized educational experiences is unprecedented. Working together with Sesame Workshop, we aim to transform the way in which children learn and teachers teach, and envision having an impact on the lives and education of millions of children.”

“Because the foundation of children’s intellect, personality and skills are formed in the first few years of their lives, ages 0 to 5 are the most critical,” added Todd Rose, one of the project’s independent advisors and director of Mind, Brain and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “There are huge opportunities in early childhood education, but we need to recognize that preschoolers do not all learn in the same way. 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. Simply put, personalized educational experiences will enhance learning for every child.”