Ed Tech Explainer
7 Questions About Discovery Education's Ready-To-Use Resources with SVP Lance Rougeux
What Teachers Need to Know About DE's New Educator Materials
- By Kristal Kuykendall
Keeping up with the thousands of ed tech solutions available to K–12 schools is challenging; startups and well-established providers alike are frequently announcing new features and integrations, expanding into new lanes, or contracting to focus on the areas in which they see the biggest impact for students.
THE Journal’s “7 Questions: Ed Tech Explainer” series gives ed tech leaders an opportunity to summarize their solution(s), explain how their product helps educators and schools, and give a quick overview for K–12 decision-makers — sort of an extended (but not too extended) elevator pitch.
For this installment of “7 Questions,” THE Journal visited with Discovery Education’s Lance Rougeux Senior Vice President of Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Engagement. Find more info on the new Ready-To-Use Resources at this DiscoveryEducation.com blog post.
THE Journal: What are Discovery Education’s Ready-To-Use Resources?
LANCE ROUGEUX: Discovery Education’s Ready-To-Use resources are rich collections of our most popular assets that have been assembled by our expert instructional design team into exciting, easy-to-use lessons, activities, and assignments for all disciplines, in every grade band. What really makes these useful to teachers is the fact that we’ve paired the trusted, high-quality media we’ve always been known for with simple-to-follow instructional strategies that make it easy for educators to integrate these resources into instruction “as is” or make their own edits before assigning or presenting them to students.
THE Journal: What was the impetus for the creation of these resources?
ROUGEUX: During the pandemic, we heard loud and clear from the educators we serve that many of the instructional challenges they’ve always dealt with had become more pronounced. First, they mentioned the acute lack of time in their day. The pandemic added even more roles to teachers’ plates, and our educators said they needed more support and inspiration in their limited instructional planning time.
Next, educators said they needed more engaging content and more help in making connections between the subject matter and their students’ individual experiences. In addition, they wanted to provide a greater level of interactivity in their lessons and offer students more opportunities to demonstrate personal agency.
Finally, educators told us they needed more options to differentiate instruction. The COVID era of education brought educators a host of new technologies and resources with which to differentiate instruction. However, access to more resources did not necessarily make it easier for the educator to differentiate instruction.
Because of these factors, we built our Ready-To-Use lessons and activities to leverage a variety of media assets including videos, audio clips, interactives, text passages, and more. These resources were paired with practical strategies and intentionally designed for use in a variety of settings, such as stations, whole group presentations, and individual student explorations. In addition, we built them in a way that provides students with a choice in how they demonstrate their understanding of a topic or concept and with the flexibility to be used in remote or in-person learning environments.
THE Journal: Were teachers involved in building these materials?
ROUGEUX: Absolutely! The magic of these resources is that they are inspired by educators’ direct feedback. In fact, many of the specific Ready-To-Use formats came from educators’ specific requests. We are constantly listening to what educators have to say about the instructional challenges they face and actively build our resources to relieve those issues.
THE Journal: How did you pick the topics when creating the Ready-To-Use Resources?
ROUGEUX: Like I said, educators’ requests are where we start our work. Then, we compare that feedback to years of data as to what teachers are searching for within our platform. We then compare that information to what we know educators are teaching in the classroom in specific grades at specific times of the year, and then we tailor our Ready-to-Use lessons and activities in a variety of formats to support the challenges teachers are looking to solve. Those formats could include new warm-up activities, or lessons to support learning recovery, or any other issue of importance to educators.
THE Journal: What has the educator response been to these materials — and have you made adjustments to these resources in response to educator feedback?
ROUGEUX: The response has been extraordinarily positive. We did some research back in April on what educators thought of the Ready-To-Use resources, and we were pleased to find that teachers appreciated them most because they help save planning time and can be used in a variety of ways from whole class presentations to single student assignments. Also, we found consistency across grade bands in what teachers want in the Ready-To-Use resources. For example, we found educators want more interactive content, more inspiration for fun lessons, and more ways to differentiate instruction. Those findings are being used to inform the next wave of these resources, so stay tuned.
THE Journal: What are the benefits for teachers using these resources in the classroom?
ROUGEUX: While the Ready-To-Use resources save educators time, support differentiation, and inject some fresh inspiration into instruction, ultimately, educators know they can trust the educational value of these materials and that they support good instructional practice.
THE Journal: How do these resources integrate into a school system’s existing instructional tech ecosystem?
ROUGEUX: One of the great things about these resources — and all resources from Discovery Education — is that they are incredibly flexible. Not only do we build multiple pathways within the Discovery Education platform to access these resources, but they all also integrate readily into schools’ LMSs, making them easy to share with students as well as with other educators.
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can
be reached at [email protected].