Broadly Speaking

This month, we speak to Megan S. Hookey, managing director of Cable in the Classroom, a non-profit initiative funded by the cable television industry, that provides free access to commercial free programming and online support materials. She has been with the organization since 1990 and travels extensively, speaking with educators about cable’s education technology resources.

This month, we speak to Megan S. Hookey, managing director of Cable in the Classroom, a non-profit initiative funded by the cable television industry, that provides free access to commercial free programming and online support materials. She has been with the organization since 1990 and travels extensively, speaking with educators about cable’s education technology resources.

T.H.E.: What kinds of educational programs is Cable in the Classroom involved with?

Hookey: Cable in the Classroom programs cover virtually every subject area for K-12 students. The programs air commercial-free on networks like A&E, Nickelodeon, Discovery, CNN and The Weather Channel. Math and physics teachers might like ESPN2’s SportsFigures program, while a social studies teacher often depends on CNN Newsroom for current events. Many programs have extensive teacher support materials available on the Web. Discovery Channel, for instance, links each of its designated Cable in the Classroom programs to national standards and benchmarks, and also provides helpful vocabulary lists and study questions.

T.H.E.: Many perceive classroom cable programming as being a passive experience: students sit and watch a television program. What is being done to make cable programming an engaging, interactive learning tool?

Hookey: Cable in the Classroom is a delightfully simple concept built around the premise that teachers need to be able to manipulate any teaching tool to meet their students’ needs. Thus, Cable in the Classroom programs are intended to be videotaped so that teachers can stop, start and pause the video as they see fit. Suddenly, watching television in class is anything but passive when the teacher actively engages students to comment, research and write about what they’ve seen on the programs. Students start leaning forward in their chairs, listening closely and watching for details that will help make the subject matter come alive. Many teachers have also used Cable in the Classroom resources to help students become critical viewers and users of television and other media. As a result of this new media literacy, some students say that they never watch television the same. Also, many Cable in the Classroom member networks have Web sites that contain suggested student activities and related Web-sites for further research. A great starting point is our site: www.ciconline.org.

T.H.E.: How will changing delivery technologies impact Cable in the Classroom? Is the organization involved in the further development of this technology?

Hookey: Ten years ago the Internet didn’t exist for the typical teacher, and students used bookmarks in an entirely different manner! The cable industry continues to listen to the education community to learn how cable’s resources could positively impact classrooms. Teachers need resources they can use today. Thus, I am pleased that the Cable in the Classroom members will continue to provide free access to commercial-free programming, and now have pledged to provide schools with a free high-speed cable modem as well.

Cable’s ability to deliver rapid-fire Internet access will be a huge tool for teachers looking to integrate the Web in a practical manner. Teachers can’t afford to lose precious class time waiting for Web sites to open or download information. Educators can also expect to see even stronger online materials that complement the on-air offerings. The advent of the Internet and other technologies will also help the organization reach out to even more educators seeking professional development opportunities. Very shortly, Cable in the Classroom will be offering virtual workshops that will help teachers locate tools in a particular subject area or grade level. And, finally, we expect to see even greater enhancements to digital search engines and the possibility of archived libraries of program clips.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.

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