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Increased Use of Digital Media in Education Gets Plug on Hill

A congressional hearing on Tuesday was a chance for a Discovery Communications executive to plug increased use of digital media in education.

The House Education and Labor Committee sought input on the evolution of digital media in the classroom, about ways that technology is improving education, and the futuristic ways in which children can (and in some ways already are) learning.

One of the panelists was Scott Kinney, a vice president at Discovery Education, who discussed how digital media and the Internet have become a dominant part of adolescent life, described how educators could exploit this development by using digital educational tools to improve education, and stressed the need for federal and state government support for incorporating digital media into the classroom. His testimony can be viewed here on YouTube.

Discovery Education, which was the only content company to have a representative testify, provides digital resources to schools and homes in all subject areas.

Citing statistical studies, Kinney told the panel that young people spend an average of 6 ½ hours a day, seven days a week, with various media, which he called the equivalent of a full work week. He also noted that 96% of all students engage in some form of social networking.

"Given [these statistics], the way our students prefer to consume information and interact with content today, it is no longer acceptable for us to ignore [these statistics] when we choose instructional material," he told the committee members.

Kinney emphasized that using digital educational tools can spark interest and enhance student learning. Digging deeper into the findings that Discovery Education took from the studies, he observed that no matter what school, grade level, or subject, student achievement increased when using interactive media technology productively. He stressed the importance of the effective application of educational tools and development resources for school districts.

Kinney displayed several of Discovery Education's programs that could be used in classrooms to improve learning.

Kinney stressed that the future of digital media in the classroom could not be possible without the support of the government. He showed examples of progressive states encouraging school districts to go outside the traditional walls of text-book learning, and encouraged continued support from the federal and state governments to incorporate digital content into education.

Kinney noted that since the start of formal educational systems, it has been customary to teach all the students in one way, but that because different children learn in different ways, this is not the best method to educate. With digital media, as Mr. Kinney showed, this no longer needs to be the case.

One program Kinney presented, an interactive glossary from the Discovery Education of Science, focuses on the type of learner a child is in the classroom. The program displays the same information in text, video, and still-images, with the goal of enabling each child to retain the information through the way he or she learns best.

Drawing on the statistics showing how technology is a large and growing part of teenage life, Kinney emphasized that educators could turn the new-age trend into a positive way to improve education as long as they have necessary support of the government.