PBS Digital Classroom Pilot Evaluation Report

February 1, 2003

PBS designed its K-12 Digital Classroom Project to inform the development of next-generation digital educational services for K-12 education. Seven public television stations worked in partnership with one to three teachers within each of their local education communities, and together, stations and teachers sought to identify the unique issues and opportunities surrounding classroom use of high quality video and interactive content. Using a single curricular theme -- westward expansion and the expedition of Lewis and Clark -- 17 participating teachers integrated digital materials delivered across three different distribution platforms into their existing classroom practice from October to December 2002. They used materials they received via CD-ROM, the Internet, and digital TV broadcast (datacasting) to a server on their school's network, exploring the potential benefits and challenges that these three formats offered. Beginning with the popularity that videos have among K-12 educators, the primary goal of the pilot project was to learn more about how this analog resource could evolve into a viable digital form in the future. Signally PBS's hope to continue to use new technologies to move in new directions, the national broadcaster described the vision of the project in the following way: There is tremendous potential in using digital television and broadband technology to serve the needs of educators, through bundling video and related data; smart cataloguing and storage solutions; and advanced personalization and interactivity...To realize the true potential of these technologies, broadcasters and producers need a better understanding of how teachers are using video, how classroom technology is evolving and how this evolution could complement stations' transition to digital broadcast. Once we can answer these questions and identify which enhancements -- in terms of quality and formatting -- are most attractive and sustainable, we will be able to make our content most useful to them... Education initiatives are rarely a "one-size fits all" proposition; by completing this analysis, we hope to provide stations with baseline information each station can use to tailor distribution and services to the specific needs of educators in its broadcast area. With funding from grants from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the pilot project selected seven public television stations to participate: Educational Communications Board in Madison, WI, IdahoPTV, Kansas City Public Television, KLVX Communications Group in Las Vegas, NV, New Jersey Network, Utah Education Network and Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association, Inc. in conjunction with WHRO in Norfolk, VA. To understand better the potential of datacasting and the common themes that run throughout the K-12 Digital Classroom pilot project PBS commissioned CCT to conduct a formative evaluation. Our charge was to help identify the relative strengths and challenges of each of the three different formats involved in the pilot project in terms of usability, educational value, and support of teachers' professional practice. For this evaluation CCT used a variety of methodologies, such as site visits, interviews and classroom observations, to identify the potential of datacasting relative to CD-ROM and the Internet and the use of digital resources delivered via these three formats at the classroom level.

To learn about our findings, please download the complete report PDF.

This report has five sections:
I. Participant Profiles
II. Key Aspects of the Pilot Project
III. Characteristics of the Delivery Formats
IV. Conclusion and Recommendations
V. Appendices