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$500,000 Grant Fuels Digital Media Development for Experimental School

PBS will develop achievement-oriented content especially for the New York City Department of Education's School of One (So1) with the help of a $500,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. School of One is an experiment in personalizing education using multiple modalities of instruction, allowing students to learn at their own pace and according to their own respective strengths and weaknesses.

Using the funds the grant provides, PBS has launched the Digital Learning Object Academy (DLOA), an initiative through which media producers at PBS will work to develop new innovative and targeted digital media content geared to sixth-grade students. So1 will then implement the content throughout its program, which is the subject of a year-long independent research study aimed at measuring and evaluating the program's success according to a broad range of factors.

"Math education is critical to the future of our country," said Rob Lippincott, senior vice president of education for PBS, "and this generous grant allows PBS to continue using the power of educational digital media to boost teacher development, increase student engagement and ensure all children have the skills and opportunity to thrive in the 21st century."

DLOA launched in January with a three-day workshop that brought together curriculum, consumer products, and interactive design specialists with content producers to collaborate on the initial phases of innovation of the digital resources PBS aims to develop for So1. According to PBS, the hope is also that, in the long term, the content developed for the program will provide a valuable resource for math teachers and students nationwide looking for new and better ways to teach math, allowing students to optimize their individual learning experiences.

As individual materials prove effective in the So1 program, the content will be added to the PBS Digital Learning Library, a public media repository, with advanced search capabilities according to curriculum needs, offering videos, images, audio files, and interactive content aligned to specific state education standards.

"This kind of collaboration is exactly what our nation needs if we want to seriously upgrade our educational resources," said Joel Rose, CEO of School of One.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.