Improving the Classroom Experience

By Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman

Unfortunately, today’s educators sometimes don’t have all the resources they need to engage their 21st century students. This is especially true in subjects outside of those considered to be “core,” such as English, arts, math and science. That’s why I believe the business community can play a role in supporting these educators in their important work by investing in the creation of free resources that can be used to augment existing curriculum. Edelman has recently been partnering with Discovery Education and like-minded organizations such as the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and the American Egg Board to do just that.

Discovery Education works in K-12 districts nationwide and over 50 percent of U.S. schools now use its subscription-based, standards-aligned digital textbooks and streaming media. In addition, the organization makes a wide variety of free digital resources and experiences, developed in partnership with Fortune 500 companies, foundations and associations, available at no-cost to 100 percent of the nation’s classrooms. These free educational materials are accessed online, on-demand by teachers, parents and students and support historically under-resourced disciplines such as environmental education, STEM, health & wellness, online safety, driver education, and more.

Bill Goodwyn, president and CEO of Discovery Education, visited our offices yesterday. He noted that there is a clear trend toward schools creating modern learning environments that utilize digital resources and educational technologies to better engage students in learning. According to Goodwyn, “We have to do a better job of capturing students’ attention in the classroom. Because young people are familiar with digital content and use it so often in their daily lives, it’s a fantastic medium through which to engage them in classroom instruction.” He pointed to the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina, whose transition to digital learning environments has resulted in student proficiency on state exams rising to second place within the state, as an example of the school system of the future.

Companies are also stepping up to help fill voids, making it possible for engaging digital content to exist in areas where there is no state funding. The American Egg Board has partnered with Discovery Education through Edelman on a program that helps educators bring the “farm-to-table” concept to life, modernizing perceptions of the farming industry. The program’s Virtual Field Trip series transports thousands of students every year to experience a real American farm and to interact with real farmers who feed our nation.

And there’s more: Intel Security’s Digital Safety Program: Think Before You Link (tools to teach kids about online safety), the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation Together Counts initiative, Alcoa Foundation’s support of manufacturing and workforce readiness, and 3M’s award-winning science and mentoring program for middle school students.

Some may feel that corporations have no place in the classroom. I take the opposite view. Business can play a role in the creation of digital learning environments, where engagement will be higher and learning will be accelerated. With graduation rates in certain demographic groups of under 50 percent in urban areas, it is essential that the private sector be involved in supporting our nation’s educators or else we will be stuck with a generation unable to compete in the future.