SCETV is more than ferrets

Mr. Ferret, RIPphoto © 2006 Sarah Marriage | more info (via: Wylio)
This past week I had the pleasure to give two presentations at the South Carolina Educational Television Spring Teacher Technology Workshop.  Teachers from across the Palmetto State come to Columbia to learn technology skills that will help them grow as educators and look for new ways to improve classroom instruction. For many teachers these workshops are the only way they are able to get any technology training. Some districts are so focused on giving priority to training that will help get test scores up. Other districts have spent lots of money on technology but failed to budget enough money for training or had to cut that part budget to save money. You have to applaud these teachers for taking their own time to better themselves. Unfortunately, more budget cuts at the state and even federal levels may may eliminate these workshops and the other valuable educational related services provided by SCETV. These are the things the majority of South Carolinians do not see. Unfortunately, when many people (and legislators) look at SCETV they only see Barney, Big Bird, and ferrets.

Ferrets? Barney, yes even if many adults want to do evil things to that unfailingly cherry dinosaur. What adult has not grown up learning how to count and recognize letters by watching Sesame Street? But ferrets? Yes, ferrets. A recent Facebook discussion I was privy to started when someone criticized SCETV of wasting taxpayer money because of a show about ferrets. The discussion became somewhat heated as those for and against SCETV weighed in on the topic. Here is a newsflash, the ferret program was not paid for by taxpayers. It was paid for by donors and foundations which includes individuals who may only give maybe $20 or corporations who may give millions. What the taxpayers pay for, according to an SCETV brochure, includes the network’s infrastructure such as towers, transmitters, buildings, and employees to make it all work. What the brochure did not mention is the many other things SCETV does that is not seen on regularly scheduled television and radio programing. So I thought I would mention a few of the SCETV programs do to help schools and teachers besides the technology workshops that most people outside of education did not know existed.

Teacher training: While I have already mentioned the technology workshops SCETV puts on twice a year, SCETV has two trainers who crisscross the state giving workshops to schools and various educational conferences. The dynamic duo of Debbie Jarrett and Donna Thompson work tirelessly to show teachers how to use the tools SCETV provides teachers to make instruction more informative and enjoyable for students. Debbie and Donna not only talk about SCETV services they also teach teachers how to use technology tools such as Microsoft Movie Maker, Photostory, podcasting, and other media creation tools to create digital storytelling projects. They are so good at their job, in a legendary tale, they went into a training session and did not know it was about the new Movie Maker Live but did not miss a beat as they showed how to make it work. For a private trainer to come and do the same thing it would cost $200 per hour or more.

ETV Streamline: This has to be one of the best things for teachers by far. This site has thousands of hours of free programing for teachers to copy and use in the classroom. Lesson plans with assessments can be created using the site and the programing is broken into clips so time is not wasted watching parts of a program that is not relative to a lesson. Students can access these clips for viewing at home and take online assessments. In my opinion this is a very underutilized tool in a teacher’s toolbox. If private companies provided this service they would charge each school thousands of dollars for this content. Actually, they may not want any copying of video due to piracy concerns.

Media Share: This is part of Streamline that is so good it deserves its own mention. Teachers and students can create and share online any media they create for viewing only by other Streamline members. This provides security for students if they produce audio or video projects for school. Teachers can select who can see the media such as school, district, state, or national. This is a great resource for sharing great teaching ideas or developing training materials that are school or district specific. There is YouTube and it has great content but do we really want to send students looking around there?

KnowItAll: A web portal for K-12 students, teachers, and parents to search the Internet safely. This includes appropriate videos, games, curriculum, assessment tools, websites recommended by the South Carolina Department of Education and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. There are other web portals out there but to make money they collect Internet surfing data to sell to marketers or do outright advertising. This SCETV site brings all of the SCETV Internet offerings for educators into one easy to remember place. All of the resources I mentioned above are only a click away and I only have to remember one website to visit. Definitely worth its weight in gold.

Discovery Educator Network: Here is a great example of public and private working together and depending on each other. DEN is a network of teachers who collaborate and share instructional ideas with each other about technology, media, and other practices used in the classroom. SCETV promotes its services and hosts events for DEN teachers to gather and share ideas face to face. There was such a meeting at the technology workshop where member teachers showed off their favorite technology gadgets, websites, or ideas in a fun “American Idol” type forum. I came away with some ideas to use in my class and items on my wish list. DEN also has the Star Educator program which is a network of teachers who conduct trainings at their school or district on using Streamline or other Discovery services. SCETV provides help and ideas to assist this special group of technology savvy teachers.

There are more services SCETV provides to educators and other groups as well such awareness of our natural resource but there is only so much time and space to list them all. If people would get past the ferrets and could see what SCETV does for the schools alone the taxpayers of South Carolina would see they are getting a bargain. Of course there is great programing on the channels too and it is not all about ferrets. Speaking of ferrets, I like ferrets and wished I had seen the program. My son had two ferrets and they provided our family many hours of entertainment as we watched them play around the house. Ferrets need love too and I am glad SCETV was there to provide it!