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'Classroom' Has a New Mission Statement

Cable in the Classroom last Wednesday released a new strategic plan, which received unanimous support from both its board and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said executive director Peggy O'Brien.

The not-for-profit group's new mission statement — one more firmly rooted in education than it had been in the recent past — is the result of a six-month review that began shortly after O'Brien came aboard last summer.

CIC found that those in the cable industry viewed CIC as an educational outlet, but educators perceived it as a cable entity, the agency found.

"Our challenge was to find the places where we overlap," O'Brien said.

CIC also faces the challenge of staying top-of-mind among cable operators and programmers. There are plenty of other agendas vying for a share of their attention.

But O'Brien found that people at all levels of the industry — including CEOs — were eager to participate in the CIC review process.

"In spite of the economy, and in some ways in light of that, local systems having good relationships with their schools and communities becomes more important than ever," O'Brien said.

The economic downturn has not negatively affected CIC's working budget for the year, she said.

One of CIC's new goals is to highlight the industry's role as a provider of broadband access and content to educators.

"The educational potential for broadband is huge," O'Brien said. "What all learning theory tells us is that when people are engaged in interactive learning — and that includes live teaching as well as [online learning] — they learn better, and it provides better teaching to people who have different learning styles."

CIC hopes to produce one or two regional technology showcases each year by enlisting partners from the MSO, programming and educational communities. As a hypothetical example, O'Brien said CIC might host a research project in video and broadband media literacy, and share the results at a conference for educators.

As part of its new mission statement, the group will also place a greater emphasis on measuring its own success.

"We'll set goals and give ourselves a report card for every project we do in 2002," she said, adding that she wants the NCTA to hold CIC accountable as well.

By 2003 or 2004, CIC may be ready for an outside evaluator to examine all its programs, O'Brien added.

CIC plans to detail its strategic plans at upcoming industry events, including the Texas Cable Show, the National Show and the Cable Television Public Affairs Association Forum.