U.S. Department of Education Awards HITN $30 Million for Ready to Learn...

U.S. Department of Education Awards HITN $30 Million for Ready to Learn Initiative

Partnership with Callaway Digital Arts and Michael Cohen Group LLC Will Create Learning Apps, and Educational Media for Reading and Math Targeted at Closing Achievement Gap


NEW YORK, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) today announced that the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc. (HITN), in partnership with Callaway Digital Arts and the Michael Cohen Group LLC (MCG),was awarded a $30 million Ready to Learn grant for Project LAMP (Learning Apps Media Partnership). The project is an early childhood media-based education initiative.

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Project LAMP will create highly engaging, digital learning applications to build reading and math skills for children ages two through eight. The focus of the student-centered learning applications will have broad market appeal and educational impact, and will specifically target low-income children, English Language Learners (ELL), and their families.

“Our goal is to help close the achievement gap. As a former educator, I know it’s important to create quality content that helps childcare providers, parents, grandparents, and teachers prepare kids for kindergarten and reinforce reading and math through elementary school,” said HITN President and CEO Jose Luis Rodriguez. “Many kids are already reading and watching stories about Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends and Nova the Robot. Now they can interact, direct the story, and learn via a variety of platforms. I am also excited about producing a new product specifically for ELL. This will be student-centered learning and family support at its best.”

Project LAMP targets next-generation learners including children from low-income groups. The content will be largely available as an open educational resource and use a transmedia storytelling approach through books, iPAD/Touch Screen applications, mobile device and phone applications, console and hand held gaming applications, sing along DVDs and CDs, an interactive Website, and television. The USDE, in 2010, expanded the Ready to Learn grant program to include transmedia storytelling.

John Lee, President and CEO of Callaway Digital Arts, the company behind the digital content for Project LAMP said, “Similar to our best-selling iPAD application, Miss Spider’s Tea Party series by David Kirk, we will develop additional e-book applications that include rich, imaginative worlds brought to life through interactive artwork, engaging stories and educational games. We’re thrilled to be a part of the innovation being incentivized by the U.S. Department of Education. Long-term, our objective is to sustain the meaningful benefits of Project LAMP by building commercially viable content and products with the widest possible appeal.”

Project LAMP will leverage the existing characters of Callaway’s Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends (ages 2-5) and Nova the Robot (ages 5-8).It will also create a third new ELL property produced by HITN. Content in all three properties will align to the 2010 Common Core State Standards in Math and Reading and promote the essential skills defined by the National Early Literacy Panel and the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

An essential component of Project LAMP will be the ongoing use of research and evaluation. Dr. Michael Cohen, President of the Michael Cohen Group and one of the co-Principal Investigators of the project said, “As the project activities move forward, we foresee new forms of educational media being developed. As a result, new assessments will be required to provide the producers with useful information on children’s learning and comprehension. This is an exciting process for evaluators because research findings will aid in product development, determine if goals are met, and contribute to our general understanding of the role and impact of media in young children’s lives.” Cohen added, “Our plan is to evaluate the applications at different stages of development by testing with children, teachers, and parents. Research will help ensure that the curricula, design, and narrative are age-appropriate, appealing, and result in student learning.”

The 2010 Ready to Learn grants include outreach monies in addition to program funding. Project LAMP outreach activities will leverage wireless network technology, social media, and community-based organizations to engage children, parents, caregivers, and teachers in New York, Connecticut, and Texas the first year alone. Over the life of the grant, Project LAMP will partner for exchange of ideas, opinions, and results with: 1) persistently low achieving schools, 2) a media production program at an accredited postsecondary institution, and 3) a teacher preparation program at an accredited postsecondary institution focused on early childhood education.

The Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc. (HITN) was established in 1983 as a non-profit organization. HITN’s mission is to advance Hispanics by providing engaging educational entertainment that expands their horizons, and enables them to serve as an ever-growing engine of intellectual power and progress. HITN is a unique source of educational, cultural, news and public affairs programs delivered to the homes of Hispanics in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Callaway Digital Arts (CDA) is the premier, global, multimedia application publishing company specializing in the creation of unique and compelling interactive content for touch screen tablet and mobile devices. Using a strategic combination of design, production, advanced mobile technology and storytelling, the company produces the highest quality learning and how-to applications that have a lasting impression on audiences of all ages. For more information about CDA, visit www.callaway.com.

The Michael Cohen Group LLC (MCG) is an internationally recognized evaluation firm responsible for all formative research and summative testing for the project. MCG specializes in conducting research with children and youth, their teachers, and their families, addressing all the dimensions of young peoples’ lives — including education, entertainment, health and media — from various perspectives: students, family members, peers, consumers, and young citizens.

SOURCE Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc.

U.S. Department of Education Awards HITN $30 Million for Ready to Learn Initiative