By George Mauzy
Ohio University's WOUB, which provides radio and television public broadcasting services to the region, is one of 12 initial Public Broadcasting Service stations participating in the PBS Digital Learning Library.
The online library will consist of video, audio, images, games and interactive simulations for use in preK-12 classrooms, but it also will be free to the public. Officials expect the library will open in late fall or early winter.
According to Mark Brewer, chief content officer at WOUB, the PBS library came about after PBS stations across the nation were looking for a more effective way to share their educational programming and content with area schools and the community.
"This library is going to be a great educational resource for everyone, especially teachers," Brewer said. "The site, which is still being developed, already has more than 1,500 pieces of content on it. Eventually everything WOUB and the hundreds of other PBS stations have produced will be available on the site."
Brewer said the PBS library will provide a home for locally produced content such as programs about Ohio history and those produced as part of the state's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program (STEM) initiative.
"When Athens area visitors access the library through the WOUB Web site, they will see both national and local programming available," Brewer said.
Brewer said another benefit for teachers is that the video content offerings will be condensed to short programs that are user-friendly to classrooms -- not the 30- or 60-minute television programs that traditionally air on the stations. Brewer said that although the programs are shorter, the content will still meet national and state academic content standards.
He said the biggest challenge to the project so far has been tagging the content with the proper search terms so that the site is easy to navigate and users can find the materials they need.
WOUB is partnering on the project with Educational Technology for Southeastern Ohio (eTSEO), a public, nonprofit corporation that is governed by school administrators and funded by school districts in 18 Ohio counties and the eTech Ohio Commission. Once the site is ready for use, eTSEO will market it to area educators and show them how to effectively implement its resources into their lesson plans.
eTSEO Executive Director Fred Harner said his staff will host informational seminars around the region to show educators how to best use the PBS library some time this fall. He said his office also will develop online tutorials on how to best use the library.
"This library is a huge undertaking, but a synergistic one that will bring high-quality online educational content to educators," Harner said. "We are at a good stage in the maturation process in the region because we already have been offering media on-demand services to our educators."