Video and Tech Collaboration Yields Next Generation STEM Resource for Schools

Burbank, CA, August 19, 2009 — Chicago-based Defined Learning has teamed up with The Futures Channel, the leading producer of real-world video programs about careers and applications of math and science, to launch a new service for teachers focused specifically on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The two companies began discussions earlier this year to explore how Defined Learning could use its technology capabilities to give teachers not only access to engaging video, but also an array of features and resources that education professionals can use to enhance instruction. The result is a next generation content delivery platform providing schools with a unique, powerful and comprehensive STEM resource.

“The service is called Defined STEM,” said Johnjoe Farragher, President and CEO of Defined Learning. “Each Futures Channel video is accompanied by instant access to subject recommendations, lesson plans, related websites, teacher guides, state standards and a powerful cross-curricular search function. Integrating this content into existing lessons is critical. The students will gain perspective on how lessons learned today will help them not only in school but with their career choices as well. The teacher will have the content presented to them in a manner that will help inspire the class. The content will reside in a self-contained environment that will help the teacher, without impacting his or her workload or taking the teacher off task.”

The Futures Channel’s movies are known for taking students to worksites around the country to answer the age-old question, “Why do I need to learn this?” From wildlife biologists to space architects, skateboard designers to robotics specialists, music composers to graphic artists, Futures Channel “micro-documentaries” feature men and women who are using math and science in interesting careers.

“Futures Channel content has been created with all aspects of STEM in mind, not just math and science, Farragher said. “Through their programs, students meet a diverse range of engineers representing most of the many branches of engineering. And they see fascinating applications of advanced technologies – from improving racing bike performance to low temperature welding for next generation spacecraft.”

“In twenty years of working in education for public television and observing the evolving area of instructional media, Defined STEM presents a refreshingly smart product,” said Jeannie Campbell who reviews, licenses and schedules K-12 classroom programming for Iowa Public Television. “The high quality video content, clean and easy interface, connection to standards and contextual material make Defined STEM one of the most impressive digital services to date.”

The collaboration couldn’t be more timely. STEM education is on the front burner at the Federal, State and local levels because it directly impacts the country’s future workforce and America’s ability to compete as a technology leader in the global marketplace.

According to a report from the National Academy of Sciences, fewer than one-third of US 8th-grade students performed at or above a level called “proficient” in mathematics. “Proficiency” was considered the ability to exhibit competence with challenging subject matter. Moreover, about one fifth of the 4th graders and one third of the 8th graders lacked the competence to perform even basic mathematical computations.

The Academy also reported that US 15-year-olds ranked 27th out of 39 countries that participated in a 2003 administration of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) examination, which assessed students’ ability to apply mathematical concepts to real-world problems.

Johnjoe Farragher is a pioneer in the Ed-Tech sector. He created United Streaming, an educational video product which was acquired by Discovery in 2003. While at Discovery, he and his team built United Streaming into one of the largest video-on-demand products serving over 70,000 schools.

The Futures Channel was founded in 1999 with the goal of “using New Media technologies to create a channel between the scientists, engineers, explorers and visionaries who are shaping the future, and today’s learners who will one day succeed them.”


Joel Jacobson
Defined Learning



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