Seeking to extend its popular video-on-demand product into students’ homes, Discovery Education has announced a new subscription-based learning service, called COSMEO, for students to use outside of the classroom.

The new service is a collection of digital tools that includes math homework help, interactive learning games, and video clips culled from the company’s unitedstreaming product. Discovery intends the service to appeal to a new generation of learners already surfing the web and multitasking as they complete their homework at night.

“COSMEO is the first educational tool to teach today’s kids in the way they learn best. This online product meets them where they’re spending most of their time and is helping to define how they learn today,” said Judith McHale, Discovery’s president and chief executive officer.

“COSMEO also gives parents a terrific window into their kids’ education and the ability to participate in their progress at school like never before,” she said. “We sense families across the United States will find a real benefit in, for example, the WebMath section, which offers a full spectrum of math learning–from third-grade multiplication tables to advanced calculus–with easy-to-understand, step-by-step solutions.”

The online service includes 30,000 video clips that correlate with state curricula, Discovery said. Students can search by grade level, subject area, or keyword, and they can download clipart for use in reports and projects. The service also offers more than 15,000 interactive quizzes, puzzles, and brain games. A digital encyclopedia gives subscribers access to more than 27,000 research articles, and the collection is expanding, the company said.

“There is a huge disconnect from what students do inside the classroom and what they do outside,” said Jennifer Dorman, a ninth-grade social studies team leader from Holicong Middle School in Pennsylvania. “At home they chat online, download music–they live online. And this online universe is as real as their face-to-face environment in the classroom. COSMEO provides a [learning] resource that taps into their online world.”

McHale said the service is updated daily, and every piece of video, print resource, and photography is reviewed by curriculum developers to ensure that it adheres to the educational standards of all 50 states.

“The service is built on a very solid foundation,” said Steve Sidel, president of Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications. The service is an extension of Discovery’s unitedstreaming offering, an educational video on-demand service currently licensed to more than 70,000 K-12 buildings in the U.S.

“We have a very rich resource that includes WebMath, which on a standalone basis has tremendous value,” Sidel said. “It’s designed for the generation that has grown up online.”

COSMEO’s WebMath section walks students through math problems, whether they are studying addition, fractions, trigonometry, or calculus. WebMath also helps students solve real-world problems, such as how to figure out sale prices of store items and, yes, even the odds of winning the lottery.

The algebra section walks students through adding and subtracting complex numbers, adding and subtracting polynomials, and calculating and working with the power of i.

WebMath is intended to help children understand their homework and lessons, McHale said, and it also helps engage parents in the educational process. “The vocabulary of math has changed over the years, and parents find it increasingly difficult to understand what is going on in the classroom,” she said. “[WebMath] puts the parents much more in line with what’s going on.”

During a conference call between Discovery executives and members of the media, Sidel said the idea for COSMEO evolved out of requests from parents who wanted their children to have access to unitedstreaming’s online video library from home. He said the company spent the last year putting together focus groups and soft launches to fine-tune the product’s navigation and user interface. More than 70 percent of the families that tried the COSMEO trial ended up subscribing to the service, he said.

“My kids absolutely love COSMEO,” said Robin Henderson, a parent from North Carolina. “They can easily navigate the site, and since it was so interactive, it held their attention and was fun for them. And anytime something is educational and fun, and they want to learn–I love it, too.”

Discovery anticipates much of the interest in COSMEO will stem from the company’s current relationships with schools, as well as from local parent-teacher organizations.

A subscription to the web-based service is available for an introductory rate of $9.95 per month, or $99 per year, after a free 30-day trial, and the standard COSMEO subscription price is $12.95 per month, or $129 a year. The monthly subscription fee entitles a family to as many as four student accounts, the company said.



Discovery Education