Public Media and Expanded Learning — Natural Partners in Digital Learning

Seeking to use the latest digital learning tools to boost student engagement in your expanded learning program? Look no further than your local public media station. While public television has long provided high-quality programming for children (who didn’t grow up learning the ABCs with Sesame Street?), public media is entering a new age of providing learning experiences to children at home, on-the-go, and wherever they are. And the resources, games, and apps from public media are a perfect fit for the informal learning that takes place in after-school and summer settings.

Like expanded learning systems, public media seeks to provide exceptional learning Summer Adventureexperiences to children in low-income families to prepare them for school and beyond. In order to boost the math and literacy skills of children in low-income families, the CPB-PBS KIDS Ready To Learn initiative has created new shows (Odd Squad and Peg+Cat), and designed educational apps and games that incorporate popular PBS KIDS characters. This strategy—called transmedia—tells a single story across multiple platforms. For a young learner used to watching Curious George on their television at home, playing a game with George on a tablet in an after-school program makes learning more comfortable, fun, and engaging. Children also gain early, interactive exposure to the tools of the digital age. Research has found that this approach can have a powerful impact on learning for young students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Expanded learning programs that hope to target the neediest children can use public media content, games, and apps to reach them where they are. Interested in transmedia, but don’t know where to start? Ready To Learn developed the Afterschool and Summer Adventures resources, which are ready-to-use in after-school or summer programs. The curriculum is research tested to be fun for kids, easy to implement even for inexperienced educators, and proven to improve literacy and math skills in young learners. Digital learning doesn’t have to mean a tablet in every hand. It may look as simple as showing a video with PBS KIDS characters and following it up with a game based on the clip. Transmedia resources can also be a tool for parent engagement. Each Adventure offers a parent letter explaining what children are learning that week and how family members can continue the learning at home.

As more and more learning takes place on tablets and phones, transmedia content from Ready To Learn meets children where they are with high-quality, engaging learning experiences.

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