The US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement has announced roughly US$102 million in grant money for its Ready to Learn media-based initiative.
Scoring approximately US$72 million are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS.
Designed to fund research and development of content to improve the math and literacy skills of children ages two to eight, especially those living in poverty, the Ready to Learn grant will allow CPB and PBS to eye and implement transmedia opportunities and innovations in partnership with local PBS stations, children’s producers, educational technologists, university and community partners and researchers. Among the partners are existing and new PBS Kids producers including Sesame Workshop, WGBH, Universal, The Jim Henson Company, Out of the Blue, TPT National Productions, Kratt Brothers, Cloud Kid, Portfolio Entertainment and Random House Children’s Entertainment.
The Ready to Learn grant is also supporting the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, in partnership with publisher Callaway Digital Arts and the Michael Cohen Group to the tune of US$30 million for Project LAMP (Learning Apps Media Partnership), an early childhood media-based education initiative.
Project LAMP will create digital learning applications to build reading and math skills for children ages two through eight. Similar to the PBS grant, the student-centered learning apps will specifically target low-income children, as well as English Language Learners (ELL) and their families. The content will be largely available as an open educational resource and will use a transmedia storytelling approach through books, iPAD/Touch Screen applications, mobile device and phone applications, console and handheld gaming applications, sing-along DVDs and CDs, an interactive website and television. The USDE, in 2010, expanded the Ready to Learn grant program to include transmedia storytelling.
For its part, kids publisher Callaway Digital Arts will develop additional eBook apps that include interactive artwork, content and educational games. The project LAMP will leverage the existing characters of Callaway’s Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends and Nova the Robot. It will also create a third new ELL property produced by HITN.
The 2010 Ready to Learn grants also include outreach that will leverage wireless network technology, social media, and community-based organizations to engage children, parents, caregivers, and teachers in New York, Connecticut and Texas.