Discovery Education Experience can enhance online classroom activities with extras that not only enrich the learning experience but can add shades of gray to an otherwise black-and-white picture. Discovery Education allows for teaching of everything from math and science to social studies and health, with the use of videos, audio clips, podcasts, images, and premade lessons – adding more punch to the core curriculum.
The idea behind Discovery Education Experience (opens in new tab) is that an online curriculum is never enough, particularly for curious and motivated students and teachers. This pool of resources can create an effective learning system that makes teaching and learning from home more like an actual classroom.
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Discovery Education Experience: Getting Started
- Works with Google Classroom lists
- Single sign-on
- Works with PC, Mac, iOS, Android and Chromebook
Getting started is easy, with the ability to begin using Google Classroom (opens in new tab) student lists and exporting all results to the school’s gradebook software. The platform also offers single sign-on options for Canvas, Microsoft, and others.
Because Discovery Education Experience (DE.X) is web-based, it will operate on just about any internet-connected computer. In addition to PCs and Macs, kids (and teachers) stuck at home can work with Android phones and tablets, Chromebooks, or an iPhone or iPad. The response is generally good, with individual pages or resources only taking a second or two to load.
DE.X, however, lacks a video chat window for the teacher to answer individual questions or emphasize details. Educators will need to set up a separate video conference to stay connected with students.
Discovery Education Experience: Content
- Daily news
- Coding curriculum included
In addition to the service’s latest popular content and activities (called Trending), the interface has the ability to search by subject and state standard as well as update a class list or create a quiz. The organizational scheme is hierarchical, but at anytime you can return to the main page by clicking on the DE logo in the upper left.
While the service uses Discovery Network video and TV shows, such as “Mythbusters,” that’s just the start. DE has daily Reuters video news updates as well as PBS’ “Luna” and a slew of material from CheddarK-12.
DE.X's content library is deep with plenty of essays, videos, audio books, student activities, and worksheets in a variety of subjects. It is organized in eight core areas: Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, Health, Career Skills, Visual and Performing Arts, and World’s Languages. Each field opens a cornucopia of material that can augment instruction. For instance, the Coding resource section has more than 100 lessons and includes a code validation console to check on student projects.
On the downside, DE.X doesn’t include access to any of the company’s textbooks or ebooks. Those are available at an extra cost.
Happily, all of the service’s material is grade-grouped with K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 selections. The division can be a little crude at times, and the same material often appears in more than one age category. The result is that it sometimes is too basic for older children.
The resources are incredibly rich with no fewer than 100 items to help kids grasp the meaning of, use, and solve quadratic equations. This matches a school’s most experienced, devoted, and creative teachers. I used it to create a lesson page with several different approaches to this topic. That said, the site ironically lacks anything specific about science’s inverse square law.
Discovery Education Experience: Using DE Studio
- Create custom pages for class lessons
- Add quiz or discussion at the end
- Interactive chat window
On top of nosing around to find help, kids can be pointed to specific resources. DE.X’s Studio allows a teacher to creatively group together items from different categories to create a personalized lesson.
1. Start at the studio icon on the main page.
2. Click on "Let's Create" in the upper left corner and then "Start from Scratch," although you could use a pre-made template.
3. Fill in the blank slate with items by hitting the "+" sign at the bottom.
4. Add items from a search, preset materials, or even items from your computer, such as a field trip video.
5. Now add a headline, but my advice is to change the browser’s zoom level to 75 percent or lower to get it all in.
6. One last thing: Throw in a final discussion question for students to write a response.
The real power of DE.X’s software is that a teacher can allow students to create their own studio boards as collaborative class projects. They can have due dates, include discussions, and start with something the teacher has made or from square one.
The excuse "I lost my project" doesn’t work with DE.X. Everything is archived and nothing – not even a project in progress – is lost. The Studio software is still under development so the hope is that extra features are added along the way.
DE.X’s interactive chat window can help facilitate teacher-student communication that would previously have been started with a raised hand. On the downside, the interface lacks the ability to incorporate live video.
Discovery Education Experience: Teaching Strategies
- Professional Learning Service to help
- Live events
- Create assessments
The DE.X service is teacher-centric with a slew of instructional strategies, professional learning, lesson starters, and access to DE’s Educator Network, a group of 4.5-million teachers, many of whom share instructional advice.
In addition to replaying items, DE.X offers periodic live events. For instance, Earth Day events include virtual field trips, segments on recycling, and green schools. The material is archived for replay at any time so every day can be Earth Day.
After the teaching is done, students can be assessed through a custom test. To start, go to DE.X’s Assessment Builder in the middle of the main page.
1. Select "My Assessments" and decide whether to use school or district resources (if any exist). Make one from scratch by clicking on "Create Assessment."
2. Select "Practice Assessment" and then fill in the name and any instructions. You can randomize the order to lessen the chance students can text answers back and forth.
3. Now, hit "Save and Continue." You can now search the DE collection for items that fit your criteria. Pick and choose items for inclusion.
4. Scroll to the top of the page and "View Saved Items" and then "Preview" the test. If you are satisfied, click "Assign" and it will automatically be sent to the entire class.
Of special interest is DE.X’s COVID-19 coverage, which can go a long way in explaining to children why they can’t go to school and also provide the resources needed for a report on the pandemic.
In addition to premade studio segments on viruses and past outbreaks, the service offers resources on how viruses spread, vocabulary, and electron microscope images showing the coronavirus’ distinctive crown-like appearance. It also even offers a video on washing hands and advice on separating facts from propaganda and outright online lies.
Discovery Education Experience: Costs
- $4,000 per school
- Lower pricing per pupil for districts
- Free during COVID lockdown
For Discovery Education Experience, a school’s site license costs $4,000 per year for building-wide access for all students and teachers' use of resources. Of course, a district license would reduce the cost per student significantly.
During the pandemic, DE offered the full package for free to closed schools to augment online curriculum.
Should I Get Discovery Education Experience?
Discovery Education Experience may not be comprehensive enough to build an online teaching effort around, but it can enrich and supplement a curriculum plus fill in the gaps that have resulted from school closures.
DE.X has proved to be a valuable resource that will no doubt will continue to be used as schools transition to more online based learning.
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