Today, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) announced the purchase and rollout of a robust, integrated digital learning solution that will support teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the immediate future.
The solution, which includes the purchase of four Learning Management Systems, a Learning Object Repository, and a suite of standards-based digital learning resources from Discovery Education, will allow every student and educator access to high-quality, standards-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, and professional learning resources no matter their location or learning environment.
“The purchase of these three platforms and the seamless ability for every South Carolina teacher to access them and incorporate high quality content into their classroom instruction can be a game changer for our state,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “COVID-19 has presented enormous challenges to teaching and learning but this digital platform will help level the K-12 education playing field this school year and beyond.”
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software framework through which education content is delivered and managed. Students and educators are assigned licenses to access content and complete assignments. The SCDE allowed districts to choose from one of four LMS platforms – Canvas, Schoology, Blackboard, and Google Classroom. The student and staff licenses were fully funded by the state for the next three years.
A Learning Object Repository (LOR) acts as a digital library of educational content. The content can be seamlessly shared with the LMS and teachers can use LOR resources to develop lesson plans and find compelling content to help streamline activities and assignments for students. The SCDE chose SAFARI Montage as the state’s LOR provider with access for every teacher paid for through 2023. It comes stocked with the best educational video resources available today, including all of the original Bill Nye: The Science Guy episodes, the current PBS, BBC, A&E and National Geographic documentaries, plus video from hundreds of the finest educational video publishers for all grade levels and all subject areas. In addition, there are tens of thousands of free web resource links which have been curated to save teachers and students time. All resources are aligned with South Carolina College and Career Ready Standards. Every public school teacher and student in the state will use their school district password to gain access to the LOR.
“The South Carolina Department of Education is providing every school district with a state Learning Object Repository chock full of high-quality digital educational video resources to support teachers, students and parents at home and in school during these challenging educational times”, said Andrew Schlessinger, CEO and Co-Founder of SAFARI Montage. “This will go a long way to supporting educational equity throughout South Carolina by providing all public school students with easy access to the outstanding digital content they need for meaningful remote learning. All school districts will be able to customize the LOR for their own district to make sure many of their procured course digital resources are also accessible in one place.”
The SCDE has also partnered with Discovery Education, a Charlotte, N.C., based leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, to populate the LOR. All teachers and students in South Carolina public schools will receive access to Discovery Education Experience. Experience connects educators to a vast collection of compelling high-quality, standards-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, and professional learning resources. Together, these resources give educators everything they need to facilitate instruction in any learning environment and create lasting educational impact. To help district educators integrate their new digital resources into instruction in the coming school year, Discovery Education will provide South Carolina’s teachers dedicated professional learning. Through these interactive professional development sessions, participants will learn best practices for using their new digital resources to teach students both online and in the classroom in ways that will maximize the state’s investment in these digital resources, increase student engagement in instruction, and support students’ continued academic development.
“Discovery Education is honored to be selected by the South Carolina Department of Education to support the education of K-12 students statewide,” said Anna Strassner, Discovery Education Senior Manager of Education Partnerships. “With our headquarters in nearby Charlotte, many of us at Discovery Education call South Carolina home and send our children to the state’s excellent schools. We look forward to working in our own community to bring our powerful, engaging digital resources to teachers and students statewide.”
Funding for the three programs amounts to over $15.3 million over a three year period. Funding is being provided through appropriations made to the agency under the CARES Act.