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APTS to Recognize WHRO for the Innovative use of Digital Technology through the Hampton Roads Virtual Learning Center

WASHINGTON— February 23, 2010 — The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) will recognize WHRO of Norfolk, Virginia with a 2010 EDGE Award for its innovative use of digital technology to promote student learning in partnership with 18 public school divisions in southeastern Virginia. The EDGE Awards are presented annually to public television stations that use digital technology, groundbreaking partnerships, and educational technologies to deliver innovative services to their communities.

"This year our EDGE Award recipients have a common theme—they use their broadcast and other resources to draw upon the energy and engagement around some of the most pressing issues affecting our country—jobs, education and health care," said Larry Sidman, President and CEO of APTS. "These projects show that stations are moving beyond traditional broadcast and are engaging their communities in new and innovative ways. Audiences are reached through over-the-air, online, and on-the-ground partnerships, impacting their communities in ways that really set them apart."

The Hampton Roads Virtual Learning Center is built upon a centralized eLearning Management System, through which WHRO maintains individual, locally branded virtual schools for each of the 18 public school divisions WHRO serves. These 18 virtual schools are co-located on a single set of servers residing at WHRO.  

Since 2007, WHRO has also developed core-curriculum, online student courses that are modular, instructor led, textbook-independent, media-rich and cover all of the Virginia Standards of Learning for the particular subject. Completed courses are delivered to each of the 18 divisions and can be further localized if desired. The cost savings is substantial. For example, it is much more efficient to create Algebra I once and let the divisions add additional local content if desired than to develop Algebra I 18 different times.  

"WHRO is very proud to receive the EDGE Award from APTS," said Bert Schmidt, President and CEO of WHRO. "The Hampton Roads Virtual Learning Center arose out of an unmet need in our educational community, as did WHRO itself nearly 50 years ago. The HRVLC online school is not only helping educators reach more students, it's also saving Virginia's schools and taxpayers significant sums of money."  

To date, WHRO has developed and delivered English 9, 10, 11, and 12; U.S./VA Government; Earth Science; Algebra I; and Financial Literacy. They are currently developing Biology, Geometry, Math Analysis, U.S. History, and Algebra II/Trigonometry and will deliver these courses by June 2010. An additional nine courses including Astronomy; Chemistry; World Geography; World History; Oceanography; Physics; and Health are slated for development and delivery over the next two years.  

In recognition of the impact the Virtual Learning Center is having, WHRO recently was awarded a $2.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Enhancing Education Through Technology grant to accelerate and complete the course development described above. The grant also includes significant funding for WHRO and a number of its partners to develop a variety of rich-media elements including mobile device applications, interactive Flash elements, podcasts, and audio/video segments for use in the courses.  

Sidman concluded: "The Hampton Roads Virtual Learning Center is laying the foundation for a variety of new, revenue generating, educational, digital services that are enhancing WHRO's local presence and value while meeting the needs of underserved communities."  

About APTS
The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization established in 1979. The mission of APTS is to conduct – in concert with member stations – advocacy, planning, research and communications activities in order to achieve strong and financially sound noncommercial television and advanced digital services for the American people. APTS provides consistent leadership and information that helps our members better accomplish their own missions and goals. APTS promotes the legislative and regulatory interests of noncommercial television stations at the national level through direct advocacy, and grasstops and grassroots campaigns designed to garner congressional support.


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