PBS KIDS, as part of the Ready To Learn Initiative has partnered with Virtual Pre-K and Chicago Public Schools to create an interactive program involving parents and teachers to build the home school connection and reinforce math skills for Pre-K.
Blog: Taking the Transmedia Journey Within the Public Media Environment
By Rob Lippincott, Senior Vice President of Education, PBS
Cross-posted at GetIdeas.org
Since its inception more than 40 years ago, public media has worked with visionaries like Jim Henson, Joan Ganz Cooney, and Fred Rogers to use the power of television to help America’s children learn, especially children living in poverty. Over the last 20 years, we have demonstrated that if you apply the same principles to the design and production of content online, on mobile, at home, and in the classroom, you can use these technologies to engage and accelerate learning.
We are constantly examining how new technologies effect children, exploring new ways to leverage PBS KIDS characters as educational magnets, and how to co-opt and deploy new approaches to learning like transmedia within new technologies for anywhere, anytime learning in underserved communities.
The recent success of PBS KIDS’ cross-platform content in advancing children’s literacy learning has led us to discover, for example, that kids who interact with our math content across multiple platforms will learn more than those who just interact with our math content on one platform. Through a forward-looking grant from the U.S. Department of Education called Ready To Learn (RTL), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS are pioneering and testing this transmedia approach to learning. We are working with top producers of every kind of kids media along with technology experts, educators, and researchers to produce transmedia suites – collections of video clips, online games, mobile apps, and interactive whiteboard games that feature the same characters and all tie to the same curriculum framework – to help build early math skills of children ages 2-8, particularly from low-income communities. Public television stations and their partners are delivering this content on-air, on-line, and on-the ground to children throughout the nation.
Public media’s transmedia approach to learning looks at different inputs for kids. For example, usability testing has revealed that tablets and other touchscreen devices are more intuitive and appealing to young children than a clunky keyboard and mouse. In addition, we’re experimenting with game mechanics that use a computer’s microphone and webcam, and require children to clap or make gestures – to jump or use their hands to make moves in a game. We’re also conducting experiments with augmented reality, immersive world environments, and 3D-rendered collaborative play. It’s critical that we understand how these technologies work, and we are partnering with a tremendous set of technologists and producers like Professor Blair MacIntyre from Georgia Tech and Bill Shribman from WGBH in Boston to unleash the learning potential of each platform. At the same time, we know that a three year old needs a very different match of technology than a five year old, so everything we do is driven by age-appropriate skill and curriculum frameworks. We are working with child development experts to ensure that we pair the right technologies with the right skill sets for the right age groups, and we’ve developed a best practices guide to help PBS KIDS producers make the right matches when designing their transmedia content.
Empowering the adults in children’s lives to be knowledgeable transmedia mediators is the goal behind our Ready To Learn-funded partnerships with the Boston University School of Education (BU-SED), with Chicago Public Schools Virtual Pre-K and K (VPK) program, and with the Campaign for Grade Level Reading (CGLR). BU-SED is piloting and testing teaching modules to help preschool teachers successfully integrate media into their classrooms to enhance students’ learning, and VPK is creating resources to bridge learning at home and in school. CGLR is partnering with us to create a free bilingual mobile app for Android and IOS platforms that will be launching later this year. The mobile app will be designed to equip parents of children ages 0 to 5 with insights on the stages of their children’s growth and will feature a variety of ways to foster literacy and math development through intergenerational on-screen activities (for parents of children ages 2-4) and off-screen activities (for parents of children ages 0-2).
Assessing the impact of our transmedia content is key, and renowned third-party researchers including WestEd, EDC, and SRI International are conducting the formative and summative evaluations to test the efficacy of our approach in both formal and informal settings. In addition, public media is working with UCLA CRESST to prototype a progress tracking system that will feature a COPPA-compliant identify system, sophisticated data analysis tools, and reporting applications that equip parents and educators with the means to measure children’s progress across multiple platforms, in real time.
Our transmedia approach to learning requires all of us who work in this space to turn our attention to capacity-building in the field, including high-quality teacher professional development, family training, and a push for a national policy movement to equip America’s Title I elementary schools and early childcare centers in underserved communities with cutting-edge digital technology tools, so that our children, both in school and in out-of-school settings, are not left behind.
The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College today launched a unique online space that provides high quality digital media resources for early learning teachers, family child care providers, and families of young children birth to age five, free of charge.
The Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment™ – “Ele” for short—is located at www.yourele.org. The site includes:
•Activities--A library of more than 100 ebooks, digital games, videos, music, mobile apps, and other activities selected as quality resources that support learning and literacy development. Some activities help adults support children’s language and literacy skills; others are designed for use by adults with children.
•Let’s Talk--An online community where teachers, families, and others can ask questions, and connect and share with others who care about issues affecting young children.
•My Ele—By signing up for a free Ele account, users can organize the site’s resources around their own needs and interests, and then share them by creating Play!Lists. All resources include research-based suggestions and information on how and why to use Ele’s activities, under the headings, “Talk About It” and “Why This Is Important.”
Visitors meet Ele, an avatar that serves as the site’s friendly “guide.” Activities are easily searchable by age, educational setting, and media type; each activity includes accompanying user tips.
How can schools and community organizations help kids learn anytime, anywhere using digital media, mobile devices and online games?
Join the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (@cbass_national) for a lively Twitter conversation (#techafter3) on digital learning in class and beyond this Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. Share your experiences, learn best practices, and discuss how you can overcome challenges in using technology effectively in out-of-school time.
The chat will feature representatives from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS (@PBSteachers), the Coalition for Science After School (@SciAfterSchool), the Afterschool Alliance (@afterschool4all), and other educators who are actively using technology to expand learning for kids.
To join the chat and see what others are saying:
1. Go to tweetchat.com and search on the hashtag #techafter3.
2. You do not need a Twitter account to follow the chat, but you do need one to comment or ask questions.
3. To join the discussion, sign into TweetChat using your Twitter account and enter your tweets in the box at the top of the page. TweetChat automatically includes the hashtag #techafter3 for you.
Also, feel free to submit questions in advance, either by sending CBASS a message on Twitter or emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.