Pennsylvania establishes first statewide Digital Learning Library

Penn State University is helping to create the content to be included in the DLL.
Penn State University is helping to create the content to be included in the DLL.

In a groundbreaking effort to give educators and students free access to standards-aligned digital media content, Pennsylvania has announced the launch of its Digital Learning Library (DLL), which aims to bring learning into the 21st century though interactive and customizable digital content.

Recently, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) formed an education technology initiative to create digital learning resource centers aligned with state standards and connected with student data systems. The goal was to help teachers find free, high-quality educational materials to help them address their students’ learning needs. (See “Free digital resource centers coming soon.”)

Now, thanks to a partnership with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Penn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU, an affiliate of PBS), Pennsylvania has created and launched the first of these state DLLs, providing thousands of digital assets to classrooms statewide.

“Digital media is transforming children’s lives, from the way they play to the way they learn,” said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS.

“Digital media allows for collaboration and interaction—it’s not just information that’s being fed to you. We must embrace technology in order to teach to today’s children. It is with this in mind that PBS is proud to partner with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and WPSU to provide the commonwealth of Pennsylvania [with] a standards-aligned DLL.”

The DLL originated two years ago as a way to harness the most relevant and high-quality curriculum materials produced by public TV stations to improve student achievement.

“A lot of focus today is placed on assessments,” said Gerald Zahorchak, Pennsylvania’s secretary of education. “But what really needs to be in place as well is a strong curricular framework.”

Zahorchak described the components that make up the Pennsylvania standards-aligned-system (SAS): clear standards, fair assessments, a curricular framework, instructional materials and resources, and interventions and safety nets.

“In order to have a great curricular framework, you have to have the best materials and resources, and that’s why we decided on this partnership,” said Zahorchak.

All assets in the DLL are aligned with state and local standards, and the collection hosts both nationally and locally created content. The content is offered exclusively through local public television stations, and assets include video, audio, images, games, and interactive content.

“We want to maximize the opportunity of the power of broadband,” said Rob Lippincott, senior vice president of education for PBS. “We think this is coming at a great time, [owing] to the recent announcement of the National Broadband Plan. We also wanted to help individualize instruction by providing multiple modalities of learning.”

According to Ted Krichels, general manager of WPSU, Penn State University is helping to create the content to be included in the DLL, thanks to the work of its Nobel Prize-winning faculty and its strength in research and education practice.

“Not only do we have expertise in the creation of digital media, but we also help to underscore the educational mission of local public broadcasting,” explained Krichels.

Krichels demonstrated two specific examples of the kinds of media teachers can expect to find in the DLL.

One was a video of a 3-D representation of a city’s underground water infrastructure. The other demonstration showed students, through expert interviews and satellite imagery, how geospatial technology can influence a person’s life.

How to use the DLL

The DLL, located here, lets educators search for digital assets by subject and by grade level.

After completing either a basic or advanced search, educators can find relevant digital content, as well as any posted lesson plans, instructional content, resources, or assessments.

Each asset includes a description, grade level, the length of the asset, the size of the media file, and the rights and credit information.

Meris Stansbury

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