Cable in the Classroom plans to help its members promote their educational technology initiatives through a "Take Your Parents to Cyberschool" campaign set to launch the week of Feb. 5.
The promotion encourages parents to accompany their school-age children on a tour of a specially created Web site, www.cyberschool.ciconline.org, which features online content from top cable programmers. The links to network sites are included in a cyberschool game tailored to different grade levels.
The National Association of Elementary School Principals has endorsed the site as a means to promote Internet literacy and safety.
Anyone who plays the interactive game is eligible to register for a chance to win prizes, including a personal computer and educational software.
"Technology is changing the classroom," CIC interim executive director Taffy Patton said. "The Cyberschool campaign was created to help cable systems reach consumers with a Web-savvy message."
The promotion doesn't just help operators show the capabilities of their broadband pipes, it also highlights the wealth of online content that cable networks provide to students, parents and teachers, she added.
"Parents should recognize that children learn in different ways today," CIC public affairs director Carol Vernon said.
In Connecticut, AT & T Broadband will run separate cyberschool events for its employees, local schools and the overall community, AT & T education coordinator Maria C. Wichlac said.
In conjunction with Black History Month, AT & T's direct sales staff will provide computer technology demonstrations in Hartford, Conn. They'll teach community members how to log on to the Internet and find the cyberschool Web site.
"We want to encourage people to use the same technology their kids are using in the schools," Wichlac said.
The operator will also stage online scavenger hunts at a local school, offering prizes from AT & T's programming sponsors to students who fill out a worksheet with information they find on the tour's Web sites. The MSO is running a similar scavenger hunt for employees and their children.
"Our goal is to educate our employees even more about Cable in the Classroom," Wichlac said.
CIC will provide its members with customizable brochures promoting Internet literacy that they can send to participating schools and families. Cable operators are encouraged to host special events during cyberschool week to allow families without PCs to take the online tours at local schools or libraries.
Participating cable operators can also find an online marketing kit to help them line up advertisers for the campaign, such as local toy stores, Vernon said.
In Minneapolis, Time Warner Cable will alert its subscribers about the cyberschool campaign through bill messages and a public-service announcement, as well as links from its own Web site.
National partners in the campaign include USA Weekend, which will feature the promotion in its Feb. 4 issue, as well as Motorola Broadband Communications Sector, Microsoft Corp.'s Encarta, The McGraw-Hill Cos. and big.chalk.com.
Once the weeklong cyberschool campaign is over, the Web site will be available via a link from Cable in the Classroom's site (www.ciconline.org).
CIC's biggest promotional pushes are traditionally slated for the back-to-school season. But Patton said she believes parents and teachers will once again be ready to focus on education when the holidays and the presidential inauguration are over.
"Cable in the Classroom is working very closely with the NCTA [National Cable Television Association] to craft messages that will resonate well with policy makers," Patton said. "Everyone in the United States can benefit from knowing that cable is ready to help schools, has been helping schools for 11 years and now, with broadband, is in a position to change classrooms."
Patton was named interim executive director late last month, when former managing director Megan Hookey left. A search committee is expected to announce a permanent replacement within the next few months.