Professional development essential to integrating digital content

Building on its successful implementation of digital content services and growing the role of digital resources as a core instructional tool, administrators and educators in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are continuing their efforts to integrate digital media into curriculum with professional development and curriculum alignment services from Discovery Education.

In August 2009, district administrators rolled out Discovery Education streaming Plus, as well as Discovery Education Science and Discovery Education Health to educators across the 44-school system as part of an ongoing effort to engage students. This digital content, locally hosted on a Discovery Media Server within the district firewall, quickly became an integral resource used by both teachers and students district-wide.

A central component of the initial roll-out of Discovery Education’s digital content included 15 days of professional development. These training sessions, designed in consultation with Kenai administrators and led by Discovery Education’s professional development staff, taught educators the basics of integrating digital media with existing educational technologies and classroom activities.

“Our school system’s mission is to provide stimulating, integrated learning opportunities that develop creative, productive learners who demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to meet life’s challenges,” said Dr. Steve Atwater, superintendent of schools. “Our initial implementation of Discovery Education’s digital services was so successful in helping us meet that goal that we wanted to continue to improve our proficiency in using this resource and integrate it even further into instruction.”

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has increased its commitment to professional development, purchasing more than 130 additional professional development days over the next three years. These professional development days are designed to help educators leverage educational technologies and digital content to support several district initiatives including teaching elementary science with an emphasis on literacy, integrating STEM into middle school curriculum, and integrating English language arts lessons into current middle and high school social studies lessons.

“Our classrooms are dynamic environments that seek to engage every student, no matter their learning modality,” said Sean Dusek, assistant superintendent of instruction.

In addition to professional development services, Discovery Education’s curriculum alignment team also will analyze district curriculum documents related to key learning initiatives to determine the best digital assets, including video chapters, images, articles, audio, writing prompts, games, and interactives for each district standard. Once the content has been matched to the appropriate standard, those assets will be embedded directly into the district’s curricular documents.

“Our district is committed to empowering educators not only with flexible digital content that engages all types of students, but with the latest strategies and techniques to help us meet the goals of our science and literacy programs,” concluded Dusek.