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New PBS resource could help advance digital learning

PBS LearningMedia contains digital content specifically created for use in the classroom.

The Public Broadcasting System and Boston-based PBS station WGBH are releasing a new digital media platform for pre-kindergarten through college, called PBS LearningMedia. The site will provide digital content tied to curriculum standards and will be available in both a free and premium format.

Rob Lippincott, senior vice president of education for PBS, said the system—expected to be announced June 27—has been in development since the emergence of WGBH’s Teachers’ Domain and PBS’ Digital Learning Library.

“LearningMedia is a merger of those two efforts to create a single national educational media platform for public media,” Lippincott said.

“What we’re looking at is not the Digital Learning Library and not Teachers’ Domain, but building on those collective resources for a new service that draws on the strength of both of those efforts and is meant to reach out to all stations throughout the system, and through those stations to a whole range of different kinds of partnerships in the system,” said Michelle Korf, senior executive for educational media with WGBH.

PBS LearningMedia will include content from more than 55 member stations, independent producers, and public institution partners. The site plans to launch with 12,000 digital learning objects, which include video clips, documents, games, images, and activities.

“Approximately 60 percent of the collection is made up of video clips,” said Lippincott. “All of these are purpose-built short pieces of video that have been produced or adapted for use in the classroom. These are not simply segments of television.”

The pieces are all aligned with the Common Core State Standards and created specifically for use with PBS LearningMedia.

“These are resources that have been vetted by educators, and unlike archives that are simply collections of resources that have been developed for other purposes, these have been keyed to specific teaching needs,” Korf said.

The network is meant to connect teachers to digital learning aids that are complementary to their curriculum.

“It is a supplemental product; it’s not designed to be the curriculum. It’s designed to be the media which drives and supports the curriculum,” Lippincott said.

“It’s also meant to be suggestive and not prescriptive,” Korf added. “Different states have different needs. … This is meant to support the whole range of curricular agendas at different state levels and to allow for a degree of localization and customization by teachers, by school districts, and by states.”

The free service allows educators to search for any keyword, standard, topic, or grade level and use the content they find in the classroom. The premium service, which adds a fee, allows for greater customization and enhanced features.

“It requires a little bit of extra bandwidth, it opens it to a much wider set of uses, and it allows teachers to use a lot more. Access to control of account and assessment data and analytics of what goes on in the system are the big difference … between the custom layer and the basic layer,” Lippincott said.

PBS LearningMedia officials plan to allow the system to be adaptive based on usage.

“We see this as a very dynamic model, and we see it evolving in response to the needs of teachers and students and also states,” Korf said.

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