LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Sept. 6, 2006) – The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and PBS TeacherLine® today launched Arkansas IDEAS, an online professional development resource for Arkansas educators designed to enhance teachers’ content knowledge and instructional skills.

IDEAS – Internet Delivered Education for Arkansas Schools – will be accessible to teachers throughout the state 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Recent Arkansas legislation requires that all certified employees of public schools complete 60 hours of approved professional development each year. Educators can count courses completed through IDEAS toward these requirements, and Arkansas Department of Education funding allows AETN to offer IDEAS to every school district free of charge.

“Arkansas teachers are shaping the future prosperity of our state and our nation through their impact on our students,” AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly said. “We are excited to have the opportunity to address the needs of teachers in the state through Arkansas IDEAS.

“This program is a culmination of the commitment to education from all those involved in making it possible following years of planning and building.”

Act 2318 of 2005 created the Arkansas Online Professional Development Initiative, a collaborative effort among AETN, Arkansas Department of Education and PBS TeacherLine to offer online programs, workshops and courses to preK-12 educators in the state. The goal of the initiative is to improve teacher quality as a means to increase student achievement.

Among those on hand to officially unveil the program today during a special event at the Arkansas Department of Education were: Arkansas Assistant Commissioner of Education Diana Julian, PBS Vice President of Education Mary Kadera, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Betty Pickett, Sen. Jim Argue, and Sen. Shane Broadway.

“[Teachers] not only teach as the experts in their core subjects, but also must design lessons to incorporate the ever-changing technological advances being made in our world today,” Gov. Huckabee said. “It is imperative that we help teachers succeed in this challenge by redesigning professional development.

“I am excited about the opportunities the Arkansas Online Professional Development Initiative will provide for teachers. Having access to high quality professional development virtually anywhere, anytime will assist teachers in meeting the challenges ahead.”

For the 2006-2007 school year, 4,000 course enrollments will be open beginning in October. Courses are scheduled for a manageable amount of time, typically six weeks, and have a specified start and end date, allowing educators to plan for and complete the courses.

“Arkansas IDEAS offers a comprehensive suite of programs to meet many professional training needs and to help educators be successful in their classrooms and in their careers,” AETN Education Director Kathleen Branton said.

AETN will offer more than 70 PBS TeacherLine courses as part of Arkansas IDEAS. These courses are based on research-supported teaching strategies and are aligned with the Arkansas curriculum framework as well as national standards. Courses will be available in core curriculum areas, educational technology and classroom management. Veteran teachers from Arkansas who have earned a master’s degree and have been trained in online course facilitation and community-building will lead participants through these courses. To date, AETN and PBS TeacherLine have trained 35 course facilitators.

“Because teachers have a tremendous passion for what they do, they continuously seek out ways to enhance their skill set and gain new knowledge,” Kadera said. “Educators turn to PBS TeacherLine as a trusted name in education to provide them with high-quality content.

“We applaud the efforts of Arkansas legislators and state education officials to expand the training opportunities available to educators, providing them with the flexibility to choose professional development resources that suit their needs.” Arkansas IDEAS also includes:

— Videostreaming, featuring more than 4,000 full-length videos, 40,000 video clips, 7,000 images, as well as writing prompts, teacher resources and clip art. Videostreaming allows educators to build lesson plans and classroom presentations.

— Arkansas Technology Institute Online, the Web-based partner to the traditional workshop sessions offered each summer at the AETN headquarters in Conway. ATI Online provides parallel training in computers, digital photography, editing, PowerPoint and Web design and is easily accessible from any computer terminal with Internet capability.

— AETN Scholar Channel, the first statewide television channel that delivers programming for the specific educational needs of school-age and adult learners. The service is available from any digital television.

— Communication networks, providing Arkansas educators access to message boards and the opportunity to share best practices. Educators across the state are able to communicate, share project ideas and help resolve classroom and professional issues.

“Our students’ future depends on our investment in teacher professional development as an integral part of state education initiatives,” said Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Ken James. “Arkansas IDEAS opens the door to increased teacher quality and satisfaction and improved student learning.

“The diligence and dedication of those involved in creating the online professional development portal shows our unwavering support for our teachers and their endeavor to make a difference in students’ lives.”

For more information on Arkansas IDEAS call 1-800-682-2386 or visit www.aetn.org.

Now celebrating 40 years of service to the state, the Arkansas Educational Television Network (www.aetn.org) provides lifelong learning opportunities, improves and enhances Arkansans’ lives and celebrates the unique culture of Arkansas through its programming. AETN’s five transmitters and numerous cable system connections give it statewide reach.

About PBS TeacherLine

PBS TeacherLine is committed to helping teachers acquire the skills they need to prepare students for a successful future. PBS TeacherLine provides high-quality, affordable professional development through facilitated, online courses, collaborative learning communities, and exemplary Internet-based resources. Currently, more than 90 courses across multiple subject areas are offered. Teachers can earn continuing education units, professional development points and graduate credits for course completion. The courses have been developed in conjunction with leading education organizations, including Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), Concord Consortium, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and International Society for Technology Education. Created in 2000, PBS TeacherLine is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for $6,046,811. This represents approximately 85 percent of the total program funding. The remaining 15 percent is funded through in-kind support from PBS and through program income. For more information, visit www.pbs.org/teacherline.

About PBS

PBS is a media enterprise that serves 354 public noncommercial television stations and reaches almost 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS’ premier kids’ TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents’ and teachers’ most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

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