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KQED: Disrupting Public Media

This monthly series explores KQED's journey to transform into a 21st century public media organization through disruptive innovation. Working with KQED, researchers Elizabeth Bandy and Scott Burg will cover new strategies and lessons learned in real time across topics such as audience engagement and sophisticated data analytics, education restructuring and expansion, the spread of design thinking and innovation initiatives, developments in local and digital journalism, and the adoption of new technologies to support these efforts.
photo by Brad Flickinger, CC BY 2.0
KQED’s Proactive Education Strategy

KQED’s Education leadership entered 2015 with a directive from its Board of Directors to reimagine the role of public media organizations in formal education, as well as the role of their department within the organization. Tasked with this mandate, Executive Director, Education Robin Mencher explained how they drew their thinking back to the origins of Sesame Street:

We took this [mandate] as a challenge to ask, “What is a unique and forward-thinking role that public media can play in learning today that is on the scale of the radical shift that Joan Ganz Cooney made when she came up with the idea to use TV as a way to prepare low income children for kindergarten?”

With this framework, KQED’s Education team devised a strategic vision that would position them to thrive in an increasingly competitive education technology environment while meeting the rapidly evolving digital media needs of teachers and students.

Over the past year, KQED’s Education staff have been developing and implementing a new planning and production model aligned with their current strategic vision. According to Mencher, the model is based on the three components that make a great media learning experience for young people:
• engaging, relevant content that connects learning to the real world;
• youth participation experiences or activities; and
• instructional supports for educators to connect the content and youth participation to curriculum and instruction.

The three components work together to offer a well-rounded, supplemental learning experience.

The team’s determination to reimagine what public media education could be and how they could engage and affect today’s young learners represents a fundamental shift in how KQED Education defines their role in the market and in the organization. Historically, this department has operated in reaction to external forces — first to the content created by KQED’s production arms and then to changes in digital media, education technology and formal learning. With this new approach, education staff not only create their own content, they do so to serve their defined audience and goals.

While the KQED Education team is still in the process of developing participation-driven products and initiatives to fit their new model, they are also wrestling with the practical aspects of rapid expansion in the department. New roles and responsibilities, shifting internal relationships and a bevy of new staff members have placed stress on existing structures, workflows and management. Education’s leadership is also building infrastructure, developing new partnerships, and creating an internal evaluation framework to provide feedback as they implement their strategic plan.

Read more about how KQED Education's strategy has evolved.

Elizabeth Bandy | Bandy Consulting, LLC

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