Smartphone Street

16 Oct

This week, we are asked to reflect upon a quote from Postman: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”

When I first started thinking about this prompt, and reflecting on Joe, Kyla, Michael and Sam‘s presentation on AV technology, my mind instantly went to engagement, which is a hot topic in education right now. Like Adam and Scott mentioned in their blog posts this week, I also thought about the “utopia” that Sesame Street portrays of what learning is about. On Sesame Street everyone loves learning, loves each other, and are ultimately engaged and connecting to learning in the beautiful world around them. It’s fun!


There have been many educational TV shows that I remember watching over the years – sometimes in school, sometimes at home. Bill Nye the Science guy, Popular Mechanics for Kids, and Degrassi (the original of course!) were some of my favorite TV shows, that I definitely can say I learned a lot from. I still to this day incorporate Degrassi episodes into my Health & Wellness classes as they cover real life, teenage health issues in a captivating and honest way. Many of these shows – and other educational TV, do show school and learning as a positive thing, and “gives teachers the chance to stimulate each child’s learning process with a combination of pictures, sounds and attention grabbing media”, as described in our reading this week on the importance of AV technology.

But as I started to dive further into our prompt and think about “the grander implications of the current array of AV technologies, such as apps and interactive educational shows, when we think about the format of schooling? How do personalized devices and tools like YouTube (Khan Academy, Crash Course, etc) change the way we might think about school,” I realized that this is so much bigger than technology increasing engagement in our classrooms. Technology is actually changing what our classrooms are – and will be.

Is physically going to school going to remain important? Obviously my answer is yes it should, but to others this may be no longer be if they can get everything they need online, through smartphones, educational TV, etc. Apps like Google Classroom have made it easier for students to catch up when they miss school – but on the flipside, have also made it easier to miss. Opportunities for remote learning are definite pros of AV technology, and I can speak from experience how powerful my classes with Alec have been in which Zoom has been the technology that has brought us all together to learn, and contribute simultaneously from different places. But is the ability to learn remotely a pro for elementary and high school aged learners? Are more distance education programs going to pop up and begin to change the traditional way of school? And how about for students who struggle with transiency, social skills, or perhaps mental health or addiction issues – could these distance education programs supported through AV technology  help them further their education in a way traditional school currently may not be?

I’m not sure what exactly what the answers to these questions are, or what these implications mean. As I think about a push for BYOD – are we actually pushing for smartphones/the internet/apps to be our teachers? If my student is struggling to understand math the way I explain it, and I suggest they go on Khan Academy and they understand it better… how does that change the role of school in that student or family’s minds? How does that change the relationship between the student and teacher? Are teachers actually still needed face to face? Or at all?

I’ve shared this TED talk before in this past blog post, and I cannot stop watching it, or getting behind the ideas Rita Pierson presents. Relationships matter.


I truly feel that the relationships we build with students have far more impact on their learning than any engaging technology can have. We need to continue to build relationships with our students and technology – by purposeful, authentic, and genuine use that enhances the learning experience. Apps like SeeSaw, do a great job of building relationships and connections between home and school in an engaging way. In this ever-changing technological world, we need to strive to build these relationships as well as meaningfully teach students about what it means to be a good digital citizen. If you’ve ever read anything of mine, I know I sound like a broken record, but digital citizenship should be at the forefront of our smartphone using (and sometimes abusing) students.

I really like what Jana said in her post this week:

“In this digital age, changing the way we think about school means shifting our view of teaching and learning from something that takes place within four walls to something that extends beyond them.”

The technology at our students fingertips is powerful – we need to teach students to harness that power for good. The relationships that we create with students are even more powerful – it is these relationships that build the foundations for students to take a step beyond the four walls schooling traditionally presents.


3 Responses to “Smartphone Street”

  1. Melanie October 19, 2018 at 1:32 am #

    I was talking to one of my student’s moms the other day, during parent-teacher interviews. Her son, who is in 11th grade, is a very successful gymnast. He drive into the city 6 days a week for 3+ hour practices. She was telling me that all the kids in his gymnastics classes DO NOT go to school. They take their schooling online. Isn’t it crazy to think that they have that option? I agree with you that human interaction and physically attending school is so important.

  2. kylaortman October 23, 2018 at 1:58 am #

    Technology is actually changing what our classrooms are – and will be. This statement was bold. I couldn’t agree more. What will the future hold for teachers? Will there be a lot of online classes? How do we track engagement?

  3. courosa October 23, 2018 at 8:20 pm #

    I think your key question here “do schools change…” is really a good one. Some would argue that this new media is just the same wine in new skins and that the effects of Sesame Street, the list of others you mentioned (Go Degrassi), and contemporary programming like Crash Course really hasn’t affected schooling or learning as we know it. I’m not entirely there – I think your attention to Jana’s quote is consistent with my beliefs around what these media/internet extensions provide for learners (e.g., anytime, anywhere, anyone, etc.). Pierson’s work is great – I always loved her quote “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like” as it’s always been something I’ve contemplated in my own teaching and in being involved in Teacher Education. Is it achievable? Is it something we need to focus more on in Teacher Ed? Is it possible for all teachers? For all students? Relationships are key – but can we teach teachers how to create and sustain them?

    Great post – great depth and left me with lots of questions!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: