In a move that could help extend students’ learning after school hours, the state of Indiana, Comcast Corp., and Discovery Education have teamed up to provide students with free on-demand digital resources that are aligned with state standards.

Discovery Education On Demand By Comcast is a first-in-the-nation service that will give Indiana families instant, at-home access to educational video clips, hands-on activities, interactive content, subject guides, puzzles, and homework help tools. Content is available at no additional cost to local Comcast Digital Cable customers on their cable TV service and to all Indiana parents and students online. (With free registration, persons outside of Indiana may access the content as well.)

Currently, more than 200 videos are available on demand through the service, and all "engage students in learning, and support and supplement the work of educators in classrooms across the state," said Stephen Wakefield, communications manager for Discovery Education. "These videos, aligned to state standards and organized by grade level and subject area, cover core academic disciplines including math, science, English/language arts, and social studies."

Content will be continually refreshed with new videos, and new content will be added online regularly as well, said Wakefield.

Discovery Education On Demand By Comcast was inspired by the personal experience of Scott Tenney, senior vice president of Comcast’s Indianapolis region. Nearly 20 years ago, Tenney and his wife were seeking tools to supplement the education of their son, who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and dyslexia. They found that Discovery’s educational content was a resource that engaged their son in learning and made a difference in his academic progress. 

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Motivated by this experience, Tenney and Comcast partnered with Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications, to make educationally relevant media available to Indiana parents and caregivers.

"Every parent wants to help [his or her] child succeed in school," said Tenney. "By combining the power of our two-way interactive fiber-optic network with the outstanding content from Discovery Education, Comcast is pleased to provide a service that helps parents partner with their child’s educator and further engage children in learning."

"A handful of states, such as California, Texas, and Indiana, are leading a migration away from traditional textbooks toward digital content," said Wakefield. "In Indiana, the state Board of Education recently made changes to [its] textbook adoption process, further embracing digital media."

The state education board voted a few months ago to issue a blanket waiver allowing state-accredited public and private schools to use a broad range of multimedia, computer, and internet resources to supplement or replace traditional textbooks.

Although the state textbook adoption process is still in place, Indiana schools have the freedom to choose the materials and resources they think are best suited to the instructional needs of their students. 

"While Indiana is among the states leading the shift to digital content into the classroom, Comcast’s Indianapolis region, in partnership with Discovery Education, also is leading the way in providing educational digital content to homes that parents can use to supplement the great work teachers across the state are doing each day," said Wakefield.

"This service benefits all students, because it provides engaging educational content that can be accessed at home, from a trusted source," he continued. "These forms of educational content truly connect to today’s students. Consuming, processing, and learning from media, in many forms simultaneously, is how today’s tech-savvy students function."

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, students consume media for more than six hours per day–eight when counting exposure to multiple forms of media at the same time.

"This constant interaction with media equates to a full-time job of learning through ‘untraditional’ means," said Wakefield. "Through the engaging media provided by Discovery Education On Demand By Comcast via both on-demand [cable] and the internet, students can continue learning with credible educational content."

Discovery Education and Comcast say they’ll soon begin a series of professional development events for educators throughout Indiana, designed to help them learn how to integrate digital media into their classroom activities.

Comcast Digital Cable customers in Comcast’s Indianapolis region, which includes Central and Northeast Indiana, can access Discovery Education On Demand By Comcast content through Comcast’s on-demand cable library by selecting "Get Local," then "Education." The content is available to Comcast Digital Cable customers at no extra cost, with the ability to pause, fast forward, and rewind selections.

Links:

Discovery Education On Demand By Comcast

Indiana Department of Education

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Igniting and Sustaining STEM Education resource center. As the workplace changes and becomes increasingly global, today’s students must be educated with a 21st-century mindset. Go to: Igniting and Sustaining STEM Education