BALOG COLUMN: Feathers fly, but SC ETV is rare bird
Public TV fans are apparently too polite to raise much of a fuss about Mitt Romney’s threat to end the so-called PBS subsidy.
There’s not a single remark about those comments from last week’s debate on SC ETV’s Facebook page, and the broadcaster’s communications director, Glenn Rawls, said that’s not too surprising.
“The folks who watch and listen to public broadcasting are fairly deliberate about letting these things pass,” Rawls said.
And as a recent Washington Times poll indicated, 55 percent of voters oppose cuts to public broadcasting.
Others can argue about whether Romney understands the power of public broadcasting, or how small a piece of the budget it actually gets. But there’s no denying the educational power of ETV.
Not every public broadcasting company has the kind of relationship with its education department that SC ETV does, said Dean Byrd, ETV’s director of education.
A lot of people may not even realize the tremendous resources that are just a mouse click away.
There are more than 10,000 videos and what ETV folks call “learning objects” housed on their sites. The videos alone have been viewed more than 3.2 million times. “It’s one of the highest video-on-demand uses per teacher of any state in the nation,” Rawls said.
If you’re not familiar with ETV’s offerings, visit some of its portal sites, like knowitall.org, which has information for students, teachers and parents too. If you ever wanted to tour the Catawba River or learn more about the periodic table, this is the place.
And if you or your kids want a better score on Angry Birds, you might want to check out the catapult section of The Hobby Shop, where you can explain to your kids the scientific principles behind using a catapult. And yes, the site explains the distinctions between a catapult and a trebuchet.
There’s also StreamlineSC. “That site is a repository of videos, video clips and audio, lesson plans of all kinds,” Byrd said. Teachers can search by curriculum standards, grade level and more. It’s also where teachers can stay current on their certification requirements.
Looking toward the future
“Education is really right on the cusp of being mammothly changed,” Byrd said. “Technology’s driving it.”
The folks there aren’t content to rest on their laurels, or video views, as it were. Being able to take students on a tour through Charleston’s historic Powder Magazine, whether they live in Greenville or Mount Pleasant, would be easy to do with a virtual textbook.
With more iPads in schools and more opportunities to engage students, it’s no wonder ETV is interested in virtual textbooks. That’s just one of numerous innovations that the education team at ETV is working on.
But don’t think for a second that ETV has abandoned its roots, its partnership with PBS. “I think the kids get a great benefit from characters they recognize, and that helps us move forward with South Carolina content as well,” Rawls said.
Folks ought to support public TV and not use cheap politics to ruffle feathers.
Reach Digital Editor Melanie Balog at 937-5565.