5 Reasons YOU Should Be a PBS Digital Innovator

We talked to some of the past PBS Digital Innovators to get the skinny on how being a part of this program truly improved their personal and professional lives.

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We have an easy, awesome 2017 resolution for you: Send in your application for the PBS Digital Innovators program. This exciting (and prestigious) program recognizes preK–12 teachers across the country who are classroom changemakers that incorporate digital media into their classrooms.

We talked to some of the past PBS Digital Innovators to get the skinny on how being a part of this program truly improved their personal and professional lives. We were blown away by the rewards they described. Read on for the top five reasons PBS Digital Innovators from past years think you should apply now.

1. You’ll travel to great places and meet awesome teachers. If you’re one of the 54 applicants selected (one from each U.S. state and territory), you’re in for some life-changing experiences. You’ll be hosted for a three-day, all-expenses-paid trip to San Antonio to participate in the PBS Digital Innovators Summit, as well as the ISTE Conference, in June.

2. You’ll get special training (and tech). Digital Innovators are invited to take part in ongoing professional development events and webinars. “I’m the only technology specialist in my building, and the professional development I get from my school system is very limited,” says Blair Mishleau from Washington, DC. “Being a Digital Innovator has given me access to endless PD from a very diverse set of folks from around the country.” Digital Innovators also get to take a free PBS TeacherLine course (e.g., Classroom Video Production or Leveraging Smart and Social Digital Media in the Classroom). The 54 Lead Digital Innovators will also score a subscription to PBS LearningMedia Custom for their school, which has exclusive content, like full-length programs from Ken Burns, Nature, NOVA and PBS Kids, which can’t be found anywhere else. Plus you’ll get to choose from three fun digital gifts for your classroom.


3. You’ll get bragging rights as “the coolest teacher.” Of course, the most important benefits are the ones that you will be able to bring back into your classrooms, schools and districts to improve your students’ education. As a Digital Innovator, you’ll have access to incredible digital resources that will engage and inspire your students in new ways. Watch how science teacher and former Digital Innovator Steve Beard is able to use his unique PBS LearningMedia tools with his students.

4. You’ll be recognized as the classroom changemaker in your district. Sharon Clark, a fourth grade ELA and social studies teacher at East Side Intermediate in Brownsville, Tennessee, says her involvement has led to serving an even greater leadership role in her department and school. “Now I am leading my school in Tech Tuesdays, in which I share with my fellow teachers new things I have learned.” Clark has also been invited to present at conferences outside of her district. Digital Innovators even have an opportunity to create personal relationships with local PBS stations, so they can elevate their voices in their communities to promote innovation and transformation in their schools. How’s that for recognition and fame?

5. You’ll be part of a collaborative community. “Taking risks and trying new strategies and tools can be isolating,” says Joe McCright, a PBS Digital Innovator from Iowa. “Connecting with like-minded educators is invigorating.” PBS Digital Innovators get to be part of a community of like-minded, thought-leaders—a collaborative group of educators who want to share strategies for using digital media to make themselves, and their peers, better teachers and to inspire a love of learning among their students. You may have the opportunity to hear firsthand how a teacher and her students in Arkansas use a 3-D printer to create prosthetic arms to help people in their community. Or maybe you’ll get to ask the top techie teacher in Colorado how to run a completely paperless classroom. “Being a member of this inspiring community has opened my eyes to the unlimited amount of educational resources available through PBS LearningMedia,” says Laura Busch, a Digital Innovator from Wisconsin. “Seeing how other outstanding educators around the country are using these resources in their classrooms has given me a whole new set of tools to use with teachers and students.”


You see? You have to apply for the PBS Digital Innovator program! The application involves uploading a three-minute “mini-presentation” video (you can use your smartphone; no camera crew necessary), answering a short personal essay question (250 words—hey, you’ve handed out longer assignments!), submitting a short bio with two photographs, and filling out an online form about you and your role. Here’s a guide to the whole process!

Take Sharon’s advice: “I would tell teachers thinking of applying not to allow fear to keep them from stepping out of their comfort zone. I did not apply to be a Digital Innovator until the last day, but when I received my acceptance, that was just the best moment! And it has been an even better adventure.”

Visit PBS Digital Innovators to learn more. Start preparing now for the application process.

Want to see more cool teaching ideas from PBS LearningMedia? Check out our list, 23 Amazing Free Teacher Resources on PBS LearningMedia.