As the 2016 presidential election nears, presidential candidates turn to the issues of preschool programs in their educational agendas. The debate over whether or not preschool programs should be made available to all children, no matter their social or financial status, is one of the most important issues for voters who are also parents.
Research has shown that kids who attend preschool do 21% better on math and reading tests in kindergarten than those who had no involvement in early education programs. As the cost of education rises, it becomes increasingly difficult for low-income families to afford quality educations. New massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have been developed as a way to get around these issues.
CBS News takes a look at the long-running children’s television show Sesame Street to understand the basic ideas behind what an MOOC should be. A recent research report by economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “In essence, Sesame Street was the first MOOC.“
The research was an attempt to monitor MOOCs and examine their affect on educational performance. Sesame Street is a perfect example of learning made available to the masses.
“Although MOOCs differ in what they entail, Sesame Street satisfies the basic feature of electronic transmission of online educational material,” said the report’s authors.
The researchers wanted to test their hypothesis that children who were unable to watch Sesame Street wouldn’t do as well in school as those who did. In their research, they found a significant level of positive educational outcomes in those areas that had access to the program.
While the effects of the learning curve tend to even out during the elementary school years, the research suggests that MOOCs appear to work. Researchers will continue to seek a way to mass produce education through the cheapest and most readily accessible resources available.