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Discovering New Ways to Learn

November 9, 2012

For educators, few moments are more rewarding than seeing students suddenly light up in an “I get it!” revelation. Thanks to multimedia learning experiences now available via high-speed broadband networks, it’s a scene that’s becoming more common in classrooms – and in homes – around the U.S.

“Normally when I’m in class and I’m doing regular assignments, I might doze off a little. But when I’m using technology, I like to pay attention and learn how to do it.” That’s a candid quote from a fifth-grader in the Indianapolis public school system, captured on video by the education arm of one of the cable industry’s most recognized and trusted programming brands, Discovery Communications.

Discovery’s education arm, Discovery Education, is making significant impact in partnerships with schools across the U.S. as it works with educators and administrators to create rich learning programs that make use of interactive information technologies including video and broadband.

An example: As of the 2012 school year, more than 500,000 students in the U.S. had access to a new sort of learning tool: a “Techbook” provided by Discovery Education to enrich traditional learning the digital way with video images, interactive maps, animated graphics and multimedia resources that enliven subjects and arm teachers with new ways to impart lessons.

Among the benefits of pairing digital media with classroom curricula, “It gives kids a closer experience of something they might not otherwise be able to do,” says Bill Goodwyn, CEO for Discovery Education. “Some kids have never been to the ocean. Now, if they want to, they can be at the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.”

Taking advantage of extensive broadband IP networks that now crisscross the country, Discovery Education also has contributed extensive amounts of archived video, interactive learning modules and instructional materials about STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) to organizations including Connect2Compete, the national initiative dedicated to making broadband-enabled technology more accessible and affordable for families and students. The idea: to bring rich, immersive learning experiences to students in classrooms and at home in ways that have never before been possible. Discovery, along with Sesame Street Workshop and Learning Express, is among early content providers for the C2C program, which plans a 2013 debut for a public portal that will point users toward available educational content.

Why it matters
There’s growing evidence that the combination of digital media and education is capable of producing impressive results. In one example, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina recorded a 26 percent rise in average composite retest scores on the state’s end-of-year science exams following the integration of Discovery Education’s digital media resources and learning materials into the school district’s science program. Schools with the largest test score improvements were those with the deepest integration of Discovery Education’s resources. (Learn more about the results here.)

Thanks to widespread and growing broadband deployment – today 93% of U.S. homes can receive high-speed Internet service through a cable provider – the definition of the “classroom” is broadening. With content partners like Discovery Education that are dedicated to supporting new, enriched ways of learning, education’s broadband revolution is now officially under way – in the classroom and at home.