My kids were Sesame Street kids and they were all the better for it. OK, Cookie Monster ate too much sugar; the Count might have been a bit scary, and Oscar did grumble a lot, but it was the one show we could watch as a family, each delighted in our own way.
This week I fast forwarded to see the future of kids television. It’s what happens when Sesame Street teams up with Microsoft Xbox Kinect. Unlike so many other Sesame Street software products, this one stays true to the spirit and looks of the characters and setting.
Some of the greatest clips from the show’s 40+ year history, combined with Kinect’s imaging and augmented reality let kids literally hang out on Sesame Street, interacting with Cookie Monster, Grover, and Elmo. Because the Kinect imaging system can scan your image and place it on the screen, you find yourself live, on Sesame Street. And because Kinect can track your gestures and movement, as well as respond to voice commands, you are anything but a passive bystander.
As you count with Elmo you might be physically tossing coconuts into their carton. Or you might be jumping to burst bubbles to learn count, swatting letters to spell a word, or dancing along to a new song. Maria Montessori, who believed that kids are multi modal learners and learn best when all of their senses are engaged would be happy to see this programming in action.
Sesame Street understand that kids (and their parents) needed a bit of humor and narrative to be engaged learners. Microsoft seems to understand that kids who learn with their whole bodies stand a chance at a higher understanding of a concept. All in all, a great team to tackle learning in the 21st century. When the product ships this spring, I’ll meet you on Sesame Street.