education's digital future

May 28: Panel discussion: the new co-viewing — why joint media engagement with parents and other adults is important for early childhood learning with new media

Carlin Llorente
Carlin Llorente
Lori Takeuchi
Lori Takeuchi
Savitha Moorthy
Savitha Moorthy

Roy Pea will moderate a panel discussion on several LIFE Center related projects on this topic. Participants to include (invited): Carlin Llorente and Savitha Moorthy (SRI International), and Lori Takeuchi (Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Sesame Workshop).


Carlin Llorente is a researcher and evaluator in SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning. He studies media and technology supported learning, afterschool programs and other informal and casual learning environments, informal science learning, and non-traditional forms of assessment. His interests center on how current and emerging technologies may support new opportunities for learning (and teaching), especially for the economically and socially disadvantaged.

Carlin leads and contributes to a range of research, evaluation, and consulting projects, including the summative evaluation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Ready to Learn initiative, the research study on Joint Engagement with Media within the Learning in Formal and Informal Environments (LIFE) Science of Learning Center, and the After School Science Networks study.

Prior to joining SRI, he was a project director and research and development associate at Education Development Center.

Llorente has a self-designed B.A. degree in liberal arts from The Evergreen State College and an Ed.M. degree in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Lori Takeuchi, PhD is Director of Research for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, where she oversees research projects, partnerships, and publications. A learning scientist by training, she conducts research on how children use digital media across the various settings of their lives, and the implications these tools hold for their cognitive, social, and identity development. Before earning her PhD from Stanford’s Learning Sciences and Technology Design program, she designed science simulations and visualization software for companies including BBN Educational Technologies, Logal/Riverdeep, and WorldLink Media. Lori began her career managing the Instructional Television Department at New York’s Thirteen/WNET.

Savitha Moorthy is an education researcher at SRI’s Center for Technology in Learning. Her research focuses on how media and technology can support STEM instruction across a variety of grade levels, from preschool to middle school.

Savitha’s recent projects emphasize new directions in science education. Her work explores the orchestration of classroom talk in the context of media rich activities can support science teaching and learning, and engage students in scientific reasoning, explanation, and argumentation. She is interested in understanding how science classrooms can be organized so that students are doing science, and thinking and talking like scientists.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 5:15pm to 7:05pm
101 CERAS Learning Hall
What happened in class: 

After an introduction and recap of last week by Mitchell, Lori Takeuchi took the stage to introduce the concept of joint media engagement (JME). Takeuchi is a Stanford graduate currently working for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which does research on educational media for children. Its pioneering research has helped to make Sesame Street an international success for 43 years. In particular, Cooney Center researchers noted that the educational benefits of Sesame Street were most pronounced when parents and children watched the show together, allowing them to discuss what they saw and refer to it later. This was consistent with prior research on literacy that showed the importance of parent-child "co-reading."

As Roy Pea would phrase it, shared media give people "anchors for learning conversations." However, the necessary circumstances for these learning conversations are unqually distributed across families! Takeuchi cited the work of Hart and Rieser, which showed that children from wealthier families hear tens of millions more words than those from less wealthy families. She noted several relevant factors to consider:
- Socio-economic factors can influence the amount of time and energy that parents have available to share with their children.
- Cultural factors can influence parenting styles and beliefs about the proper role of parents in children's lives.
- Platform and content factors influence the kinds of activities that families tend to do with media. For example, online Sesame content is more popular than the actual TV program. Educators hoping to cultivate JME face the challenge of helping families to chain snippets of online content into coherent and satisfying wholes.

Savitha Moorthy introduced herself as an employee of the Center for Teaching and Learning at SRI, based down the road in Menlo Park. She studies science education and the cultivation of science talk. Moorthy described an ongoing study to evaluate the efficacy of a pre-school JME-centric science activity called "My Mushy Banana". Over the course of two weeks, students watch special episodes of "Sid the Science Kid" with their teachers and then sort ripe and unripe bananas and record their data in a chart. Through guided reflection activities, they are led to consider the processes that make fruit ripen more quickly, and to use graphs to see patterns in data that they wouldn't otherwise notice. Moorthy closed by emphasizing the importance of the JME experiences to support both synchronous and asynchronous references - as Lori pointed out, the students are able to use the media as a reference point in later discussions.

Moorthy's colleague Carlin Llorente closed the evening with a description of Ready to Learn, an even more ambitious project to use JME to create impact in pre-school math learning. Ready to Learn is part of a long-standing public and private effort to create a collection of free resources that disadvantaged children could use (with proper scaffolding and support) to reduce achievement gaps. Llorente emphasized what we all recognize as the fundamentally attention-grabbing nature of animated media - it can be difficult to NOT pay attention. The CTL staff aims to, in Cooney's original words, "master the addictive qualities of [media] and do something good with them". To this end, Llorente and colleagues are conducting a randomized controlled trial of Ready to Learn materials with over 1000 students embedded in classrooms. Ready to Learn consists of a complex set of games, videos, manipulatives, and other resources, which have effect mainly when mediated through the presence of a teacher. Llorente is testing Ready to Learn against two controls - a "tech-rich but content-thin" collection of resources that are not as carefully assembled, and a "business as usual" no-tech control setting. Carlin, Savitha, and Lori's research ultimately argues for a more careful consideration of the context in which educational media gets used.