Where's Sesame Street for the Digital Generation?

Posted by Nikhil Swaminathan

In mid-May, Atlanta hosted a TEDx event dedicated to education. One of the talks, given by Michael Levine, executive director for The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, discussed how to get members of the media-soaked younger generation of America to use the 53 hours they spend interacting with the digital world more productively.  (In case you were unaware, it was work done by Joan Ganz Cooney that led to the development of Sesame Street.)

The show taught several generations of kids basic reading and math skills. Today, American children rank 15th internationally in reading proficiency. While Sesame Street doesn't hold the same power it once did, as kids are perpetually inundated with information from TVs, laptops, netbooks, and smartphones. Levine seeks an answer to the following question:

Can the media multitasking generation that each of us is familiar with in our households and in our communities adopt what I would call a new set of what I would call "habits of mind" that will allow them to learn in a totally new way? Or are we destined to raise a generation of youngsters who are a mile wide and an inch deep? 

He discusses the benefits the digital world brings, specifically how it seamlessly connects people from different generations, allows for learning through games, and allows kids to shuttle between different devices.

See how Levine suggests we avoid a "mile wide and an inch deep"-generation.