Discovery Offers Information, Resources & Support

April 17, 2020: Volume 27, Number 8

With digital content and professional learning resources, and a reach that extends to 4.5 million students and 45 million students in 140 countries, Discovery Education (Charlotte, NC) sees itself as uniquely positioned to lead as schools transition to remote learning.

Discovery president for K-12 education Scott Kinney told EER that early on Discovery Education developed a three-tiered response to the COVID-19 crisis. The first step was the creation of the Viruses and Outbreak Channel within the company’s flagship Discovery Education Experience. It provides DE customers with ongoing updates on what the coronavirus is, information on how infectious diseases spread and guidelines for staying healthy.

The channel was developed because there was less information for children than there was for adults about what is happening and because of a need to sort through the truth of what is being reported online and in the media, Kinney said.

He said the new channel was well-received by partners who wanted to share it more broadly in their larger community. Discovery then invited its content partners to request a log-in to share the channel.

The third prong of Discovery’s response was to make Discovery Education resources free to closed schools through the remainder of the school year. Interested educators filled out an experience access request form. In two weeks in late March following the offer, 13,000 new schools were added to the Discovery Education Experience and 6 million students were brought on board.

The Discovery Education Experience, launched for the 2019-2020 school year, is the next generation of the company’s streaming service, with curated digital resources for all K-12 subject areas. It was developed to help teachers differentiate instruction and save time, while helping students better relate to and understand subject matter and give them real-world learning opportunities. A Studio suite of tools added embedded content creation and real-time collaboration features.

New Ways of Delivering Instruction

As Discovery expanded the delivery of its resources, Kinney said the company understood each use case is different. The company gathered experts and members of the Discovery Educator Network and set up a virtual learning resource center with grab-and-go content, lesson plans and virtual office hours when teachers with questions could connect with a Discovery expert.

Some districts are leveraging a videoconferencing platform to connect with students and deliver live instruction, but more are assigning pre-packaged content for students to work with on their own. Kinney said Discovery is looking constantly at how resources are being used and the types of assistance educators need.

Kinney said there is a range of how prepared educators are for virtual learning, from well-prepared to working toward, and Discovery is trying to meet them wherever they are. Even with more devices and better broadband than a few years earlier, there still are gaps that Discovery is trying to help bridge.

Business Continues

For the company, business continues in some parts of the U.S. with districts holding virtual board meetings and making plans to move professional development online. Districts in other parts of the country are hitting the pause button as they focus on the crisis moment. It is too early to see the impact on budgets with a lot of districts still in triage mode, Kinney said.

With many districts challenged in trying to reach their students, Kinney sees an opportunity for a future conversation around digital learning and equity.

Meanwhile the company continues to add resources for the current moment. On March 20, Discovery launched Daily DE, a suite of no-cost activities and resources from Discovery and like-minded organizations, built as a one-stop shop for families.

On March 30, Discovery and the Afterschool Alliance launched a new application for iOS products called Social Distancing Trainer. It brings educational information about social distancing to students and teachers through augmented reality and information from organizations, like the Centers for Disease Control.

In April, Discovery introduced Coding, a new digital service supporting coding education at the elementary and middle school levels. All current users of the Discovery Education Experience will have free access to coding through the end of the 2019-2020 school year so educators can provide remote learners with this additional experience.

Discovery had a “solid first year” in the California science adoption in 2019 and expects a good second year for its hybrid bundle strategy that provides print options for its digital-first techbooks, Kinney said.

 

 

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