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[CALL] 2012-2013 Cooney Center Fellowship: Call for applications!

Cooney Center Fellows Program


The mission of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is to foster innovation in children’s learning through digital media. Founded in 2007, the Cooney Center supports action research, connects child development experts and educators with media producers, and mobilizes public and private investment in promising and proven learning technologies. The Cooney Center aims to develop traditional and 21st century literacies in elementary school-age children, especially those from underserved and underrepresented populations. For more information, visit


Fellows Program Overview

Cooney Center Fellows participate in a wide range of projects and, in doing so, develop broad exposure to scholarship, policy, and practice in the field of digital media and learning. This professional development program offers opportunities to:

  • Conduct research on digital media use among elementary school-age children;
  • Publish research that responds to practical industry and practitioner needs;
  • Expand the influence research has in government, education, philanthropy, and industry decision making; and
  • Develop new skills and perspectives that are critical to becoming a leader in the field of digital media and learning.


The Cooney Center Fellows Program attracts a wide range of applicants with expertise in digital media and/or in the fields of communication, child development, education, learning sciences, psychology, computer science, design, and public policy. Current and former Fellows have led research investigations and published reports and articles on digital media innovations, industry trends, and policy solutions. They have also developed public presentation and media outreach skills, organized major cross-sector convenings, and contributed to the overall growth of the Cooney Center.


The Fellowship

For a period of one year beginning in Fall 2012, the Fellow will work in residence at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, which is located in New York City. The Fellow will undertake an independent research project, which he/she should outline in the application process. Fellows also play a substantive role in ongoing Cooney Center projects and initiatives, and participate in the day-to-day operations of the Center, including publication production, annual leadership forum planning, and contributing to the website and newsletter. Fellows occasionally travel to present research for dissemination and professional development purposes.

The Cooney Center’s major initiatives for 2012-13 include:

The New Coviewing: Joint Media Engagement (JME)

Building upon a line of R&D advanced by Sesame Street in the 1970s and 1980s, this initiative aims to understand how learning occurs through joint media engagement. We just published a report on The New Coviewing, and have just entered into an R&D partnership with the LIFE Center and Sesame Workshop to make progress on these issues.

Networked Participation (NP)

This initiative aims to address questions about the relationships of virtual worlds, social network sites, and other technologically enhanced communities to the healthy development of young children. In November 2011 we convened an interdisciplinary meeting of scholars and media producers around this topic and in 2012 plan to sustain the community through follow-up events and partnership planning.

Bridging Learning

This initiative is aimed at understanding the boundary-crossing nature of children’s learning. Projects based at USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab—a new Cooney Center partner—are exploring how media, environments, and social supports can provide children with multiple opportunities over time and spaces to improve basic and 21st century literacy skills in ways that they find personally meaningful.

Mobile Learning

Mobile technologies show tremendous untapped educational potential for today’s generation of young learners. Mobile learning is a growing line of work for the Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop, extending into our NP, JME, and Bridging research initiatives, prizes program, and a partnership with Nokia Research Center.

Impact Publishing Initiative

The Cooney Center, in partnership with the E-line Media, has been funded by the Gates Foundation to develop publishing models that can help scale the adoption of new and innovative game-based learning products. Activities include the creation of an impact publishing practice to advise funders and developers of other game-based learning projects, and the dissemination of market analyses (such as iLearn II), publishing methods, and evidence of educational effectiveness.

National STEM Video Game Challenge

The National STEM Video Game Challenge, inspired by President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” initiative, aims to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passions for playing and making video games. The goal of the program is to identify, inspire, nurture, and scale breakthrough ideas in children’s digital media and learning.

QuickStudies of Digital Media & Learning

In 2011-12, our e-book line of research aimed to extend our understandings of tablet PCs as reading devices for preschoolers. In particular, we investigated how the latest generation of e-books compares to print books in supporting parent-child dialogic reading. We plan to run similar QuickStudies of digital media and learning at the New York Hall of Science in 2012.

We are seeking early career investigators, including recent graduates of masters and doctoral programs. Applicants from ethnic minority and underrepresented populations are encouraged to apply. This year, we will give special consideration to applicants who possess experience and skills developing or designing digital media.




The Fellow will receive a stipend of up to $50,000 for the period of one year. He/She may also pursue financial support through outside contracts as long as they do not conflict with the fellowship residency requirements. Unfortunately, the Cooney Center cannot provide relocation expenses or health care benefits.



Application Process

Interested candidates should submit the following to the Cooney Center:

  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • Concise personal statement (about 800 words), describing background and relevant past experience, as well as proposed research topic(s) and their relevance to the Cooney Center’s mission and activities
  • Writing sample (about 1,000 words)
  • Contact details of a faculty member who may serve as a reference and who is committed to providing intellectual guidance during the fellowship period


The application deadline is Friday, March 30, 2012 at 6:00pm Pacific Time. Direct any inquiries and email application materials to Hard copies may also be sent to:


Cooney Center Fellows Program

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

1900 Broadway

New York, NY 10023

The Cooney Center will contact selected candidates for initial telephone/Skype interviews in April 2012. Finalists will be invited to participate in telephone/Skype or in-person interviews in May. The 2012-2013 Cooney Center Fellow will be announced by June 15, 2012.