Who We Are

Heading Image - Who We Are

Creating “Aha” Moments

What’s our reason for being? It’s the “Aha” moment—that thrill of insightful discovery a student feels when suddenly decimals, or map reading skills, or JavaScript commands, just… make sense.

Teachers and parents share the delight when “the light bulb goes on.” As do we. Everyone at SFL is dedicated to ensuring a steady flow of “Aha” moments that, in down-to-earth terms, foster exceptional teaching, learning, and career preparation. Our growing team of educators and technologists has helped enhance learning at every level for tens of thousands of students in the U.S. and abroad. 

Our Impact Main Image

Our Impact

We help teachers to thrive in their profession.

We help teachers to thrive in their profession.

Clifford Janey is a former superintendent of the Washington, D.C. public schools. Now a senior researcher at the Boston University School of Education, he reflects on The Source for Learning’s significance:

“After almost four decades of service, The Source for Learning (SFL) remains a steadfast resource for educators. It’s been a stabilizing influence, demonstrating the importance of civic education. And it’s reinforced relationships among schools, families, and the communities in which they reside. Today, growing numbers of teachers proudly make the case for curriculum enrichment with MySciLife, TeachersFirst, and other tools that SFL has developed.

The positive outcomes of this work have impressed me deeply. I could point to many examples, but I’ll focus on just one: teacher retention. Holding on to quality teachers is one of the most urgent challenges we face, because even the most talented young educators often require years to mature into effective practitioners. Along the way, the intense demands of the modern classroom can drive promising beginners out of the profession before they can reach their full potential.

Teacher with kids

 

The Source for Learning is a lifeline for young teachers. Trustworthy and comprehensive, it fosters conditions in which educators can learn to thrive as confident professionals. In that, The Source for Learning has no equal.”

—Clifford Janey, Ed.D. 

What better way to learn science than to role-play as a volcano, stars, or gravity? In rural Missouri, a science teacher energizes her students and herself with MySciLife to do exactly that.

MySciLife Kids in classroom

In rural Missouri, middle-school science teacher, Barb Philips-Bredlow, understood the lack of engagement her students had for learning science.

“Looking out the window, doodling, dozing off—the kids were just not engaged. I was frustrated, but I understood how they felt. As a student, I hated science myself. Too much reading out of textbooks. Nothing to draw me in.

I searched online for a way to appeal to someone like my younger self, and I discovered MySciLife. In a tiny school district without a lot of resources, it was a lifesaver—safe, free of charge, created by people who understand both pedagogy and technology at the highest levels.”

The Source for Learning’s MySciLife is a social learning environment in which each student role-plays a science topic such as a volcano, the sun, or the law of gravity, in a worldwide online community.

 

 

“After five years, I’m still thrilled with it. The social-media platform attracts kids into the STEM orbit, even if they’re hesitant about science. It transforms so-so readers and writers into great readers and writers. And, for students who haven’t seen much beyond their home town, it shines a light on the world. They see what other kids are achieving, and they raise their sights accordingly.   

“MySciLife really does get the blood moving in my science classes.” 

—Barb Philips-Bredlow 

Two dozen teachers searched in vain for a resource about maps. TeachersFirst developed one from scratch, for free, and it went global.

TF Screenshot

Educator, Boni Hamilton, is familiar with the challenge of how to best use technology in the classroom. She has come to rely on TeachersFirst, an aggregator of curriculum recommendations developed by the Source for Learning in 1997.

“I’ve written books on implementing instructional technology, but I started out as a technical coach supporting 24 K-5 teachers. I found I could save hours of searches by going right to this vast aggregator, TeachersFirst, and finding multiple solutions for many different teachers.

TeachersFirst taps into the parts of the teacher’s brain that know how individual kids learn, and how tech can be used wisely, so teachers and students can keep growing stronger together.

Every product there is reviewed by an actual teacher who describes how it would look in the classroom. That’s essential; while teachers know how to teach, and how to use technology in their personal lives, they don’t all instinctively know how tech and teaching fit together.

 

TeachersFirst Collage

 

TeachersFirst is more than ‘consumer reports.’ At one point, my teachers and I were seeking materials about weather maps. No luck. So—just another teacher reaching out through a website “contact” form—I asked TeachersFirst, “What do you have?

They replied right away, and not to recommend something off the shelf. TeachersFirst realized that other schools might need the resource we asked about. In time for the following school year, they developed Globetracker, just to address our need. Today, in US schools and around the world, it’s making geography, map, and weather skills more understandable–all because of one simple question." 

Globetracker

 

—Boni Hamilton 

Our Story Key image

Our Story

The legacy of a teacher who planted the right seed at the right time

In a simpler time than our own, today’s convergence of teaching and technology would have been hard to imagine.

But in the 1930s, one young man unknowingly set foot on a path leading to that intersection. A hard-working teacher had recognized his potential, then found a way to arrange a far better education than John Curtis could have hoped or paid for.

Later, he vowed to repay that teacher by applying what he’d learned to the challenges teaching professionals face.

Today, the assets that once provided instructional television carry digital content, and that enterprise is known as The Source for Learning, Inc. (SFL). The digital age has expanded SFL’s horizons, but its mission never changes.

Year

Technology Milestones

Source for Learning Milestones

1920s

 
John Curtis

Teenager John Curtis, the eventual founder of SFL, enters Lawrenceville Academy thanks to the efforts of a perceptive teacher who recognized his potential. He goes on to complete a degree in engineering from Yale.


He later vows to honor his former teacher by providing instructional content to teachers everywhere, free of charge. 

 

By 1970

Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS)

FCC reserves 31 channels for instructional use.

 

John Curtis, now retired, begins to investigate the potential for delivering instructional video through ITFS.

 

 

By 1983

Satellites
NASA’s CTS/Hermes satellite demonstrates the feasibility of satellite-based TV distribution.

Computers
Apple, Tandy, and Commodore build-it-yourself computers go on sale.

Video
RCA introduces VHS videocassette technology in the U.S.

 
NITV

John Curtis founds the Network for Instructional TV (NITV), predecessor of The Source for Learning.

 

1985

 

NITV launches a broadcast video service for underserved schools in its ITFS markets.

 

By 1996

Mobile Phones
Motorola introduces the flip phone.

World Wide Web
CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, puts the Worldwide Web software in the public domain. 

Streaming Internet
RealNetworks and Microsoft develop streaming media technology. Demand for bandwidth accelerates.

 
First use of internet

NITV demonstrates the first use of ITFS channels to deliver the internet to classrooms.

 

1998

 
TeachersFirst

NITV launches TeachersFirst, our groundbreaking online web service for K12 teachers.

 

2007

 

NITV develops PreschoolFirst–the first online, formative assessment for early childhood, including an extensive library of activities to support any curriculum.

 

By 2008

3G Service
Now cellphones can handle data as well as voice communication.

Web 2.0
Users and developers focus on dynamic content and social interaction.

EBS
Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) converts to Educational Broadband Service (EBS).

Smartphones
Apple introduces the iPhone.

 
SFL Logo

The Network for Instructional Television (NITV) adopts a new identity, The Source for Learning (SFL), reflecting its mission to keep pace with advancing technology. 

SFL’s analog frequencies convert to broadband digital transmission.

 

2010

4G LTE

Faster network speeds make delivering video and other media more efficient.

 

SFL collaborates with the National Head Start Association in a marketing partnership to provide resources for Head Start parents. 

SFL develops MySciLife—an online environment where middle-schoolers adopt science concepts as their social-media avatars—as a proposal for the MacArthur Foundation.

 

2011

Two-way Digital Technology

The FCC’s Educational Broadband Service (EBS) upgrades one-way broadcast licenses to two-way digital technology to improve sharing media resources. 

 
ISTE logo

SFL joins the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), an advocate for digital learning and equitable broadband access.

 

2013

 
MySciLife Logo

SFL moves MySciLife to a custom-designed platform that offers “kid safe” social interaction.

 

2015

 
OK2Ask Logo

SFL adds new topics to OK2Ask, its series of free, interactive online workshops for teachers.

 

2016

 
SFL EC Webinars

SFL's Early Education staff offer their first online webinars. Response is far greater than expected.

 
Our Reach Map

Our Reach

Empowering Educators While Bridging the Digital Divide

Use of SFL's online content by teachers, students, and families has grown steadily over the past fifteen years. In 2015, more than 1.2 million visitors viewed more than 6 million pages on SFL sites. The map shows the distribution of the 73 percent of those users who logged in from the U.S.A.

SFL Reach Map

In 2016, more than 2,000 attendees participated in SFL’s online professional learning webinars. And in the 22 local communities where we hold EBS licenses, SFL Broadband is uniquely positioned to offer targeted solutions to local challenges like meeting the needs of special needs students or itinerant teachers.

SFL Broadband Sites