Monday, September 24, 2001

PeachStar Partners with Council for the Arts

Art is the universal language, and it has proven to be a universal vehicle for teaching academic subjects across the curriculum. Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) have embarked on a new partnership to demonstrate that art can be used effectively to introduce and reinforce instruction in science, mathematics, language arts and social studies.

Partnership activities include the production of a 30-minute video that will be aired over PeachStar's statewide satellite network which reaches more than 2,400 public schools and other education sites in Georgia. The video, which will premiere in November, highlights art from the Georgia State Art Collection and includes interviews with several of the artists whose work appears in the collection. In addition, PeachStar has arranged for a corps of experienced classroom teachers to develop a supporting curriculum which will be available online this fall. Finally, early in 2002, GCA will tour the state with an exhibit featuring selected pieces from the collection.

Sunday, September 16, 2001

Summer School for Teachers - PeachStar's Teacher-In-Residence Program

This summer PeachStar kicked off its first ever Teacher-In-Residence Program. As part of this effort, teachers from all across Georgia came to the Georgia Public Broadcasting facility in Atlanta to learn new skills and work with PeachStar staff to develop support materials for use in Georgia classrooms.

The program, which ran for four weeks, was divided into four different segments, with each week focusing on a different subject area. Week One, entitled Workshop In A Box, taught teachers the important skill of integrating multimedia into PowerPoint presentations for use in the classroom. Week Two, entitled Art Across the Curriculum, focused on developing lesson plans that integrated art across subject areas. Week Three, entitled simply Count On It!, concentrated on developing support materials to supplement the original PeachStar elementary math series, Count On It! Finally, the program finished up with Week Four, entitled Georgia Studies/Georgia Stories: The Primary Connection. This group developed multimedia lesson plans that support the original PeachStar series Georgia Stories. These lesson plans draw on primary source material from the state archives and will eventually be posted on the Georgia Stories website.

As part of the Teacher-In-Residence program, participants have agreed to take the knowledge they have gained and work they have done over the summer back to school with them in the fall. Each participant will implement in the classroom the skills learned during his or her particular week, as well as giving a general presentation about the resources available through PeachStar. Letters will be sent to participants' schools shortly after the beginning of the school year to let principals know all about the work their teachers have done over the summer and about the important information they will be sharing with the school community.

We at PeachStar are very excited about the opportunity to work with Georgia educators to develop resources we feel confident will help them to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. We're not the only ones who are excited about the advances PeachStar is making in educational technology, though. Here is what some of the participants in our Teacher-In-Residence Program had to say about their experience:

Millicent Bess, Haven Elementary (Chatham Co) "I'd really like to thank PeachStar...for reading my mind. I've wanted to learn how to use multimedia in my classroom and I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn to do it...and not only to learn, but to be able to go back to my school and incite teachers about doing the same thing."

Catherine Tyler, Hawthorne Elementary (Clayton Co) "I think the hook is to get other teachers to not be intimidated and be overwhelmed, but to show them it's hard work in the beginning, but once you catch on to these concepts like video streaming and hyperlinks and putting them in a presentation, you you're not only an excellent classroom teacher, but you do have expertise in the area of technology. I feel ecstatic about the sense of accomplishment...that makes it worthwhile."

Sonya Boyd, Shaw High School (Muscogee Co) "Having been here this week has reinforced my impression that PeachStar remains a leader in technology for educators in really is a tremendous opportunity for all of us, whether we're classroom teachers or media specialists or guidance counselors. Whatever our position, we need to be taking advantage of this."

We thank all of our Teacher-In-Residence participants for all of their hard work and look forward to hearing their success stories throughout the coming year!

Thursday, September 6, 2001

Online Educational Media

In a revolutionary partnership designed to bring Internet-delivered, core curriculum-based video-on-demand to all public schools, colleges, and libraries statewide, Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and United Learning (UL) have announced an alliance that puts Georgia at the forefront of the movement to meet the U.S. Department of Education's National Educational Technology Goals. (United Learning is an Illinois-based company with whom GPB has had a long-standing relationship. GPB acquires educational content from UL for delivery to Georgia schools via GPB's statewide PeachStar Satellite Network.)

Combining GPB's educational programming and UL's new website, an extensive library of hundreds of hours of educational programming is now available online in GPB's broadcast area. The new partnership affects more than 2,500 buildings, including more than 1,900 PreK-12 public schools, 89,000 teachers, and 1.4 million students, starting immediately. The content was developed in compliance with Georgia's Quality Core Curriculum (QCC), which is the official statewide curriculum adopted by the State Board of Education for all Georgia public schools.

UL is launching a formal scientific evaluation of its site, to be completed in 2002. Free live demonstrations of the technology behind the GPB/UL partnership are available at

This partnership supports the long-range educational technology goals advocated by Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes and former Gov. Zell Miller. The venture also reflects the recommendations of the bi-partisan, congressional Web-Based Education Commission, in its report "The Power of The Internet for Learning" presented to both the President and Congress. Georgia U.S. Rep. Johnny Isakson served as vice-chair of the Commission.

Subscribers now have instant access to roughly 1,000 videos and more than 10,000 video clips in science, social studies, math, language arts, and guidance, as well as to extensive support materials for teachers and students. Video content may be downloaded directly to a teacher's or student's hard drive or streamed over the Internet. The entire library may be searched by keyword, grade level, subject, or specific QCC standard.

GPB's efforts directly address National Educational Technology Goals issued by the United States Department of Education last year. These goals are:

* All students and teachers will have access to information technology in their classrooms, schools, communities, and homes.
* All teachers will use technology effectively to help students achieve high academic standards.
* All students will have technology and information literacy skills.
* Research and evaluation will improve the next generation of technology applications for teaching and learning.
* Digital content and networked applications will transform teaching and learning.

In addition to meeting broad national goals, GPB's initiative specifically addresses technology integration learning standards set forth in the QCC. Those standards mandate that all students in Georgia public schools will be able to master a myriad of information technology-related skills such as:

* Operating basic technology tools and applications
* Creating, modifying, and editing documents using word processing and desktop publishing tools
* Creating, managing, and utilizing information using database and spreadsheet tools and applications
* Using multimedia tools to express ideas
* Evaluating, selecting, and using telecommunication tools and online resources to communicate ideas that persuade, describe, inform, or involve
* Using a variety of telecommunication tools to communicate the results of research projects
* Using technology and telecommunications tools to locate, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, apply, and communicate information
* Using a variety of technology tools to solve problems

Realizing these goals and learning objectives will fundamentally change the way educational media is delivered and used by teachers and students in the classroom and beyond.

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Programming Acquisition

PeachStar and Georgia Teachers Join Forces

From March until May of 2001, PeachStar piloted our first ever Programming Acquisition Project, a joint effort between PeachStar staff and Georgia teachers to select educational programming that lines up with the state's Quality Core Curriculum. Additionally, selected programming had to meet the specific content needs of Georgia teachers, and offer well-rounded packages of support materials. Over the course of five weekends, different groups of teachers from all over the state came to the GPB facility in Atlanta to evaluate potential program offerings for the coming year; programming was evaluated according to a pre-set rubric that addressed such criteria as the compatibility of the materials with Georgia's curriculum framework and content needs. These evaluations then served as the foundation on which programming selection was made for the upcoming year.

We at PeachStar understand that no one is in a better position to determine the needs of teachers than teachers themselves; we also recognize that the needs of teachers differ vastly from one grade level to the next. That's why we separated the teachers into groups according to grade level (Elementary, Middle, and High). Each group reviewed video series geared toward the students in the specific age group they teach and determined if the programming met the particular needs of their grade level.

In addition to their program reviewing activities, teachers participated in focus groups while they were here at the GPB facility. PeachStar staff elicited feedback from teachers on such topics as the form and function of Pipeline Magazine, the Program Guide, and the PeachStar website. The thoughts teachers offered on these topics played a huge role in shaping the way we approached the design of these resources for the upcoming school year.

Based on the input offered by the more than 300 teachers who worked over the course of the Programming Acquisition Project, PeachStar was able this year to purchase enough quality programming to fill three channels; Channel 410, previously PeachStar's "main" channel, will be devoted entirely to Elementary programming. Channel 420 will cater to the programming needs of Middle and High School students, while Channel 430 will offer Professional Development, post-secondary, and adult learning courses all day every school day!

Now that the bulk of program selection and review is behind us, PeachStar intends to make programming acquisition an ongoing process that continues throughout the year, rather than a once yearly event. By treating acquisition as a continual process rather than a one-time event, we hope to distribute both the workload and the benefits across the school year. We look forward to continuing to draw on the input of the Georgia teachers we serve in making decisions about the kind of programming we should purchase for classroom use.

Saturday, September 1, 2001

A Letter from the Executive Director

Back to school is always an exciting time of year; this year, though, coming back to school will be even more exciting than ever. The staff of the Education Services Division of Georgia Public Broadcasting has spent the summer working hard with dedicated Georgia educators to expand on the resources we have to offer students and teachers in Georgia public schools.

Such efforts as the Programming Acquisition Project, which utilized Georgia teachers' expertise to select the programming to be purchased for the upcoming school year, and the Teacher-In-Residence Program, which brought teachers from across the state to Atlanta to work with our staff on developing multi-media support materials to accompany our video programming, have given me the opportunity to interact on a personal level with a large number of Georgia's educators. One of the big motivators behind the summer's work was our desire to demonstrate to Georgia teachers our willingness to listen to what they, the end users of our products and services, have to say and to incorporate their real-life experiences into our efforts to improve. I very much enjoyed the moments I was able to spend one-on-one with teachers and found the insights they offered regarding their needs as educators and the services we at GPB provide to Georgia's public schools to be invaluable. It was exciting to see so many teachers willing to spend their precious vacation time hard at work, assisting our staff with the great task of improving teaching and learning in Georgia classrooms through the use of educational technology.

Over the course of the coming school year, we will continue to work with Georgia teachers and to draw on their wisdom as we persevere in our goal to raise the bar of excellence in educational offerings extended to Georgia classrooms. Be sure to look for exciting new developments such as the posting of lesson plans on-line and PeachStar's partnership with United Learning to offer video streaming directly into Georgia classrooms.

I wish you a very successful school year for 2001-2002 and hope that our ongoing efforts to provide Georgia students and teachers with the highest level of educational resources will help you to make this school year one to remember.

Warm regards,

James M. Lyle,
Executive Director