By Joy Loving, Station Products and Innovation
In the fall of 2011, seven stations were awarded the annual PBS KIDS GO! Grant. Each of these stations created modules for children that could be adapted by other PBS stations and filled a gap in content that is not currently represented by PBS. In this SPI blog series, we will introduce you to this year’s winners and their customizable products available to stations.
This week, we introduce you to Susan Barbeau, Community Engagement Associate at grant winning station KBTC in Tacoma, Washington. Susan was part of the KBTC team that created the PBS KIDS GO! Fun Finder. The Fun Finder is a kid-friendly tool that allows kids to find and schedule fun events in their community. Susan was happy to share about her experience in the competition.
What was the motivation behind the PBS KIDS GO! Fun Finder?
While online calendars are a popular tool for adults, when we surveyed the competitive landscape we couldn’t find any applications specifically designed for kids. The motivation behind the project was to create an innovative PBS product that could be used as an educational tool.
What do you hope to accomplish with the Fun Finder or what impact do you hope your module will have on the PBS KIDS audience?
The main goal of the PBS KIDS GO! Fun Finder was to create a calendar application, designed for kids age 6 – 10, which would allow them to keep track of their events and introduce them to events happening in their local community. The educational goal of the project was to develop an engaging interactive tool to help kids master the concept of time and time management. We also aimed to provide local PBS stations with a web based tool that encourages partnerships with local organizations dedicated to enriching the lives of children.
You were able to work with past GO! grant recipients including mentor station KSPS in Spokane, Washington, during this process. What was that like?
Working with other PBS stations on the mentee portion of the project was very rewarding. We were able to collaboratively create a single application, which will benefit the system as a whole. The process allowed us to get to know other stations across the country and build a product that better fit the needs of stations.
This competition required you to come up with a module that could be adapted by various PBS stations. How can stations customize this module for their site?
Stations have the ability to create their own customizable version of the PBS KIDS GO! Fun Finder with a unique URL (e.g. pbsfunfinder.com/KBTC). To set up their site, stations simply visit pbsfunfinder.com/admin and follow the instructions. The registration process allows stations to upload their station logo and link to their station website. Once registered, stations are given access to a local events manager where they are able to input local events happening in their community. The events input into the admin will pop up on a user’s calendar 14 days prior to the event.
What was the most enjoyable part of creating your module? What was the most challenging part?
The most enjoyable part of the project was BETA testing the application with kids and parents. Their feedback was invaluable when it came to implementing the final product. It was also a great way to get kids and families engaged with the stations.
Do you have any advice for stations working to improve their online PBS KIDS presence?
Our station has been successful with integrating our online KIDS presence into our strategic plan for Community Engagement. We view online tools as an extension of engagement activities and [these tools] make the kids web portal as local as possible. Our advice would be for stations to make similar connections to their education and outreach departments.
If you have any questions or comments for Susan or the KBTC team, please feel free to comment below.