Charlotte Cole: Children’s media as a catalyst for change

Charlotte Cole, a leader in the field of children’s media and executive director of the Blue Butterfly Collective, spoke at NU-Q on Wednesday about the ways in which children’s television programming has been exported around the world.

Cole, who was previously senior vice president at Sesame Workshop, talked specifically about the Sesame Street model, which has reached 60 million children worldwide and involves literacy, girls’ education and health education. Communities worldwide have adapted the model to provide programming based on their specific cultural and educational needs. “Media has a lot of power to change [society],” she said. “It’s important for kids to see positive images of themselves reflected.”

A large body of evidence exists on the short- and long-term effects of educational programming on children, she said. Studies have found that the greatest impact is measured in children with the least resources.

In addition to her work with the Blue Butterfly Collaborative and Sesame Workshop, Cole has been a consultant to Harvard’s Institute of International Developments and has conducted research and consulted with the Cognitive Development Laboratory of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where she was also a teaching fellow. She has taught at Boston College, Leslie College and St Mary-of the-Woods College in Indiana.