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June 13, 2013

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An Inside Look at In-School Testing

Courtney Wong is a research specialist for Sesame Workshop’s Department of Education and Research.

Sesame Street content has been exploding on the digital market with new apps and website games for your preschoolers! With the ever-expanding digital landscape of design and technology possibilities, we must keep learning and adapting our work. Handheld touch devices and apps did not even exist when we were kids, so we need all the help we can get! 

We like to go straight to the experts—the kids themselves! Sesame Workshop is committed to reaching children in particularly vulnerable communities. For this reason, we like to work in schools in low-income, diverse areas.  We typically send a few researchers to work one-on-one with children at schools mostly in or near New York City, where our offices are located.  Each of our sessions with children lasts no more than 30 minutes. We first explain what we’ll be doing (playing the game), watch them play through the game, and then ask a few questions assessing their likes and dislikes about the game. We generally allow kids to navigate the games independently, but always let them know that we are available if they need help or have any questions.  We also make sure that kids know they can return to class at any time if they do not want to play for any reason.

Our work with children helps us with interface design (usability) and appeal/engagement with the content—which are critical for learning.  Children play a central role in our design process for making digital media experiences that are age-appropriate and educational.

Our relationships with schools are also very important to us and we hope that these experiences can be as fun and beneficial as possible for both us and the children! The children love knowing that they are some of the first kids to ever see and play our new games. They often leave our sessions beaming with pride and excitement for having taught us something about our games—and that leaves us beaming with excitement!

We are always looking for new kid experts to test-drive our materials! If you are a teacher or director of a preschool or day care center in or near New York City, please e-mail Researchflyer@sesame.org with your name, school/center name, address, and phone number.

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