CNN Newsroom as a Classroom Tool
Television as a curricular tool is not new to the classroom; current events programming is an important part of many classes, from early elementary through high school. Turner Learning, a division of CNN, created a daily news program in the fall of 1989 called CNN Newsroom that is a 30-minute block of commercial-free news and features programming. It has been developed especially for school use and is provided to schools at no cost. Many of its unique characteristics make it easily adaptable to a variety of learning situations.
Turner Learning is one of the founding corporate members of the $420 million Cable in the Classroom initiative, offering over 540 hours of free, high-quality programming monthly to schools. Launched in August 1989, CNN Newsroom celebrates its 10th year in the classroom this school year. This project was created in response to the expressed needs of classroom teachers for information on domestic and international events that was current, visual and geared for the classroom. CNN, long a leader in broadcast cable news, was a natural fit for these needs.
CNN Newsroom is cablecast weekdays, 12 months a year on CNN from 4:30-5:00 AM/ET. Schools may record each day's program and use it at their convenience. The program is designed for teachers to select individual segments that complement their curricula. A free daily classroom guide to CNN Newsroom is available over the Internet. It has a multi-page guide including a program synopsis with running times, background information, questions and concepts for discussion, classroom and homework activities and cross-curricular suggestions.
CNN Newsroom also airs daily on CNN International for schools worldwide. Once a school registers with CNN, it is given the rights to all the materials to be used in any educational way that best serves the needs of the students and staff. The tapes become the property of the school and can be used again and again if desired. Over 75,000 teachers are enrolled as CNN Newsroom users, and the program is seen at more than 36,000 schools in the U.S.A., Canada and other locations throughout the world.
Current events are the main focus of the show, with three other segments rounding out each day's program. The four segments are: Today's News, Your Daily Desk, WorldView, and Newsroom Chronicle. One or more segments can be pulled out and used separately, if desired. The initial segment, Today's News, obviously covers current news events of the day; each of the other segments is further explained below.
Your Daily Desk concentrates on a particular subject area each day. The general topics of the special features are consistent, making planning easier for teachers who wish to use Newsroom for certain subjects. On Mondays the "Environmental Desk" is featured, which explores environmental issues from around the world. On Tuesdays topics such as medicine, nutrition, and fitness are covered on the "Health Desk." The "Business Desk" on Wednesdays examines what is happening in the economy, including retail trade, economic trends and commerce. Thursday's "Science Desk" explores a variety of areas related to science, from technology to archaeology to space travel. The "Editor's Desk" on Fridays focuses on the arts and on media trends.
The third segment of the half-hour program is called WorldView and provides cultural and historical perspective on world events. The fourth and final segment, Newsroom Chronicle, focuses on issues of particular importance to young people.
Available daily via the Internet are corresponding materials that supplement the program. By logging onto the site (http://www.turnerlearning.com/Newsroom), a teacher can get a variety of teaching suggestions and aids that apply directly to each day's programming. An exact to-the-minute program rundown is given, allowing a teacher to easily determine when the desired segments will appear in the show and how long each segment lasts. A science teacher may wish to use only the Daily Desks on Mondays and Thursdays, for example, and the lineup would allow him or her to determine the exact position of the segment on the videotape. Additional information on the Web includes study questions, related Internet links, and background information on all of the topics covered on each day's show. These materials are readily available early every morning. The materials from past shows are archived and are available any time they are needed.
Professional Development for Teachers
The University of Maryland University College's Professional Development Program-International provides the option of online graduate credit for those teachers participating in the use of Newsroom in their respective classrooms. The teachers, once registered, are given a password and Internet address where they can go and participate with other teachers around the world, sharing ideas and insights on the best uses of Newsroom. CNN/Turner Learning provides a link on its homepage for teachers who would like to see the course syllabus, readings and registration procedures. In this way, those interested can get all of the information regarding the course and therefore make a more informed decision regarding participation.
On a typical day, there is an introductory segment lasting 1 minute and 15 seconds, followed by Today's News, which lasts 5 minutes. After an overview of the most prominent current events of the day, the majority of this segment is devoted to one top story of the day. Your Daily Desk, the discipline-specific segment, is relatively short and lasts approximately 3 minutes. Worldview, the segment providing perspective on world events, lasts nearly 10 minutes. The final segment of each program, Newsroom Chronicle, typically lasts about 8 minutes. A little over a minute is allowed for the closing remarks and wrap-up. Remember, all of this content is free.
Dr. Emmans teaches educational technology courses at Central Washington University and curriculum courses for the University of Maryland's online master's degree programs. She has been a consultant for the educational division of Turner Learning, developing master's level courses that fit the use of CNN Newsroom in the classroom.
Dr. Byxbee has worked extensively to link educational endeavors of Turner Learning with University of Maryland's professional development programs in order to serve the in-service needs of teachers worldwide. He has been involved with overseas education at the graduate level for 20 years and is currently in charge of all professional development opportunities overseas for University of Maryland University College.
This article originally appeared in the 10/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.