Feb 2, 2011

PBS research finds poor technology infrastructure in many classrooms

PBS's annual study of media technology used by teachers reveals an "insufficient capacity of computing devices and technology infrastructure to handle teachers’ Internet-dependent instructional activity," it announced today (Feb. 2). The national research by Grunwald Associates LLC also shows that kindergarten through 12th grade teachers spend 60 percent of their time using educational resources in the classroom that are either free or paid for by teachers themselves, due to school budget cuts. The nationwide, online survey reflects views of a representative sample of 1,401 full-time classroom teachers (1,204 K-12 public school teachers and 197 pre-K teachers in public and private schools) in August 2010. PBS has commissioned the study since 2002.

WTTW's "Grannies on Safari" and tour group land in Athens on State Department charter from Egypt

WTTW's Grannies on Safari hosts and the tour group they're leading just landed (3 p.m. Eastern Feb. 2) at the airport in Athens, Greece, on a U.S. State Department charter flight from Luxor, Egypt. Their spokesperson Maria Dugandzic-Pasic said Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson told her that the entire Luxor airport was full of  tourists frantic to leave. Because the travelers have no access to television or the Internet – and opted to stay on their tour boar on the Nile – they were not aware of the seriously deteriorating situation in the country as mobs demanding the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak begin to clash with pro-Mubarak crowds. The group arrived for their tour Jan. 26. Above, Fraser, left, and Johnson checked messages at the Luxor airport as they awaited news on their flight. Ten travelers are with them, including an 82-year-old. (Image: Courtesy Julio Martinez, Grannies on Safari)

Case studies detail uses of PBCore

There's a whole slew of case studies just posted on the PBCore site. What's that? The Public Broadcasting Metadata Dictionary Project.

MHz adds more live coverage of Egyptian revolution on Al Jazeera English

MHz Networks has extended Al Jazeera English's live coverage of the upheaval in Egypt, the Virginia-based pubTV distributor said Tuesday (Feb. 1). Al Jazeera English newscasts on MHz Worldview reach more than 35 million households nationwide. And viewers are finding other ways to watch Al Jazeera English, the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, KSMQ in southern Minnesota received donations Tuesday from viewers specifically pleased with the additional Al Jazeera English coverage on Worldview.

Group examining ways for creators and parents to define quality children's media

The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media gathered a group of experts Tuesday (Feb. 1) at the Erikson Institute in Chicago to begin building a framework for judging excellence in children’s digital media, reports the Early Education Initiative blog of the New America Foundation.

"Today children are gaining access to media that encourages – no, requires – some interaction on their part," writes Lisa Guernsey, director of the initiative and conference participant. "Couldn’t that interaction bring with it the potential for harnessing that media to enrich children's learning in many promising ways, in and out of school?"

The group is developing broad outlines for creators and parents trying to determine "how to define quality amid the burgeoning number of products, websites, shows, social media outlets, immersive games and apps that are designed to both engage and excite children’s learning," Guernsey said.

Some 30 experts were in on the discussion, including Angela Santomero, co-founder of Out of the Blue Enterprises, which produces SuperWhy! on PBS; and Alan Gershenfeld, founder of E-Line Media, a publisher of game-based learning products, and former chairman of the nonprofit Games for Change.

Search on for Weiss replacement at NPR, decision due in spring

NPR has hired the search firm of Spencer Stuart to identify candidates to replace Senior Vice President of News Ellen Weiss, NPR chief exec Vivian Schiller told staff in a memo Monday (Jan. 31). A search advisory committee also will consult with Schiller before her hiring decision, later this spring. Committee members include Steve Inskeep, senior host of Morning Edition; Joel Sucherman, program director for ARGO/Digital; and Sharahn Thomas, deputy director of news. Weiss resigned in January, (Current, Jan. 10) in the wake of her controversial firing of NPR correspondent Juan Williams and its subsequent political firestorm.

Texas Watchdog on the sale of Houston's KTRU

The Texas Watchdog combed through the paper trail on the sale of Rice University's KTRU to Houston's KUHF, and reported on broker's fees and efforts to keep the deal secret. The University of Houston, which has a $9.5 million deal to acquire Rice's student-operated KRTU pending at the FCC, signed a $200,000 contract to retain Public Radio Capital as its broker in June 2009, months after it had gone through a round of painful budget cuts, according to this report by the Watchdog's Steve Miller. Efforts to conceal the formative deal from public meeting notices of the University of Houston's Board of Regents may have violated Texas Open Meetings Act, he reports. Some 250 pages of documents related to the transaction are posted here.

Sale controversies prompt questions about Public Radio Capital

Public Radio Capitol's roles as broker and buyer in sale transactions that are pending in several markets are coming under increasing scrutiny by localism advocates and public radio insiders, who question whose interests are being served in the sales of Pittsburgh's WDUQ, Houston's KTRU, and the New Jersey Network. Keeping the Public in Public Radio, a blog that watchdogs public radio format changes and station sales, has published a round-up of recent posts that criticize PRC. It's headlined "College Radio and the Grim Reaper" and includes excerpts from blogs by public radio news veteran Michael Marcotte and Ernesto Aguilar, programmer at Pacifica's KPFT in Houston. Additional links: Current's reports on WDUQ, WNKU's signal expansion, and the complex and controversial transaction involving classical KDFC and free-form college radio KUSF in San Francisco.

Esquire magazine names NBR owner as "reengineer"

Mykalai Kontilai, who purchased Nightly Business Report in August 2010, is cited in the latest Esquire magazine as a "reengineer." More than 20 persons were identified as "men and women who have rebuilt, rethought, or happily dismantled their industries, their influences, and themselves." Kontilai, a former mixed-martial arts agent and educational video distributor, was noted for "snatching up the rights" to NBR and "pledging to reinvent the sleepy half-hour public news into the impossible and improbable – a must-see business report that will be syndicated in two hundred countries." Others on the list include President Obama, actor Alec Baldwin and NFL quarterback Michael Vick. Kontilai's acquisition of the show was big news in the pubcasting system, as reported by both Current and, subsequently, the New York Times.