Free digital tools from TVO to improve learning at your school

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We sat down with Karen Grose, TVO’s Vice President of Digital Learning, and member of ORION’s Board of Directors, to learn more about TVO’s transformation from educational broadcaster to innovative digital learning organization.

Q: Tell us a bit about TVO

TVO was created in 1970 as the technological extension of Ontario’s public education system. In the last five years, TVO has made a remarkable shift and has transformed from solely a TV station to a digital learning organization.

Today, TVO provides innovative learning experiences, supporting success for students and increasing citizen engagement for all Ontarians. We do this by focusing on our strengths: innovative educational products; in-depth current affairs; groundbreaking documentaries; and award-winning TVOKids resources. TVO’s learning content reaches millions of Ontarians in classrooms, online and on mobile devices.

Q: The government recently announced a Renewed Math Strategy. Could you tell us what this means for K-12 education?

In our day-to-day life and interconnected world, math matters. Strong math skills are crucial to helping young learners succeed in school as well as in the current global marketplace. Creating a skilled workforce, which will ultimately help strengthen Ontario’s economy and enable the province to compete on a global scale, is critical to our future success.

Yet in talking to students, teachers and parents, we have heard that math can trigger anxiety.  It can be hard to learn, and complex to teach. In this context, TVO saw an opportunity to harness our expertise at the intersection of curriculum, pedagogy and digital media to create tools and resources that help students build a solid foundation in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), and develop the global competencies they need to succeed today.

Q: How is TVO supporting K-12 math and global competencies?

This has been a really exciting time for our organization! TVO created mPower, a fun and innovative online game-based resource that builds problem-solving, critical thinking and math skills for learners in Kindergarten to Grade 6. As the popularity of online gaming among young Canadians continues to grow, it is a natural fit to leverage digital game-based learning to tap into kids’ enjoyment so that learning math is fun.

TVO also offers award-winning TVOKids content and innovative educational resources to support the development of math and global competencies. The popular TVOKids program, Annedroids, a series about a kid-genius scientist named Anne, was recently found to help increase self-esteem, foster interest in STEAM in girls, and reduce gender stereotypes. Another great example is TVO’s Homework Help – a free online math tutoring service with real-time one-on-one tutoring from Ontario-certified teachers available for Grade 7 -10 students. Homework Help also provides teachers with an array of tools to support teaching math to students during the instructional day.

Q: So how did TVO create mPower?

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Oh, it’s been so much fun! Starting in 2014, TVO built mPower from the ground up. mPower’s development is rooted in TVO’s a rigorous instructional design process that guides the creation of all of TVO’s high-quality educational content.

A multidisciplinary team worked to conceptualize, prototype, develop and continually iterate mPower. The team worked in partnership with Ontario’s amazing educators, who guided the development of mPower from its inception, giving TVO critical insight into students’ learning needs and the math challenges they currently face.

Throughout the process, educators and students themselves continued to help shape mPower’s iterations by providing valuable ideas, feedback, play-testing and in-school piloting.

We prototyped the application with over 2,000 K-2 students and educators in 2015. Our 3-6 prototype process just finished in December 2016 and included over 5,000 students and educators.

mPower is a first for TVO in terms of scale and complexity— from the organizational efforts that led to  its creation, to the evolving product. Today, with the insightful voices of students and educators informing its iterations, mPower is evolving to become a comprehensive, high-quality digital classroom resource that is already serving more than 25,000 students!

Ready to explore the tools and resources? K-2 educators can log in to browse TVO’s mPower resources, and upcoming content will soon be available for grades 3-6 as well. Click here to view the student log-in.