50 Years of Sesame Street: The Word On the Street

By Katie Bertussi

Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop celebrated its 50th anniversary on February 4, 2019. While plenty has changed on one of the most well-known streets in America, this beloved series continues to enrich the lives of young children, and perhaps even its adult onlookers, as well. In recent years, Sesame Street established a new presence in the traditional classroom through new, emerging technologies becoming increasingly accessible in the traditional American classroom.

In 2016, Sesame Workshop announced a partnership with IBM, a leading software company, to produce a customizable vocabulary app tailored to each student’s individual learning needs. The recently piloted app harnesses Sesame Workshop’s well-researched curriculum and IBM’s computational and artificial intelligence technology, which together, produce perhaps the greatest learning experience possible for every child. Teachers at Gwinnett County Public Schools, one of the top-ranked Georgian school districts where the vocabulary app was piloted, reported five-year-old’s successfully integrating new words like “camouflage” and “arachnid” into their writing and speech. Reflecting on the evolution of children’s communication media, Jeffrey D. Dunn, the CEO of Sesame Workshop recalls how fifty years ago, Sesame Workshop harnessed “the ubiquitous presence of television to reach vulnerable children.” Accordingly, with their new IBM partnership, Sesame Workshop hopes to now expand their presence by “develop[ing] the next generation of tailored learning tools.”

Essentially, the opportunity to reach more children by means of new, emerging technology continues to fulfill Sesame Workshop’s mission—and essentially, that of all educational children’s programming—to “help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.” With HBO’s renewal for a 51st season, this beloved series will only continue to enrich the lives of the next generation of children, thereby bringing an even greater abundance of “sunny days” to streets around the world.

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