Skip to content


static image

Elizabeth Hillman, Discovery Education
(240) 662-2664,

Stephen Wakefield, Discovery Education

— No-cost virtual and in-person event explores best practices around equity, personalized learning, formative assessment, culturally responsive classrooms, and student engagement —

Silver Spring, Md. (March 23, 2016) – On Saturday, April 16, Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12, primary, and secondary classrooms, will convene its annual Spring VirtCon. Classroom teachers and administrators worldwide are invited to participate in this free, day-long professional learning event featuring online and in-person opportunities for educators to explore essential topics in education leadership.

A continuation of the dialogue that began at Discovery Education’s Powerful Practices professional learning events, the Spring VirtCon will feature a variety of online workshops and engaging presentations from thought leaders on the topics of equity, personalized learning, formative assessment, culturally responsive classrooms, and student engagement in schools.

Among the scheduled keynote presenters are:

  • Rafranz Davis, Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning, Lufkin Independent School District, TX. Davis’ presentation will explore best practices for making media diversity and cultural responsiveness a priority in the classroom. During her remarks, she will share how technology, rich media choices and intentional thought can change the scope of belief in a school community.
  • Stephen Downes, Program Leader, Learning and Performance Support Systems, National Research Council Canada. In his presentation, Downes proposes an alternative to personalized learning called ‘personal learning.’ In personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning, and decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system by individual learners.
  • Dr. Cindy Moss, Senior Director of Global STEM Initiatives, Discovery Education. In this session, Dr. Moss will provide strategies and resources empowering educators to create STEM teaching and learning opportunities that engage all students. These strategies and resources are appropriate for K-12 classrooms, afterschool clubs, and summer camps.

Additional presentations during the Spring VirtCon will explore a variety of timely education topics including:

  • Formative Assessment Using Free Digital Tools, presented by Kati Searcey, Talented and Gifted Teacher/Professional Development Facilitator, Fulton County Schools, Ga.  During her session, Searcey will focus on digital tools that educators can use to efficiently and effectively assess their students during the learning process.
  • Connecting the Dots: Personalized and Project-Based Learning, presented by Marita Diffenbaugh, Professional Development Specialist, Idaho Digital Learning Academy, Boise, Idaho. Diffenbaugh’s presentation will help participants connect the dots between personalized, project-based, and relevant real-world learning. Attendees will leave the session with a model and resources they can use to inspire learners to start researching, curating and collaborating with each other.
  • Who is Engaged?, presented by Erica Phillips, Teacher, Halifax Regional School Board, Nova Scotia. In this session, Phillips will discuss why teachers must remember what it is like to try things that are new, be willing to take risks, and ask for help when it is needed.

Discovery Education is also encouraging educators to create local face-to-face events at which they can meet with their peers, participate in the online events and discuss and workshop the online presentations.   For more information about the 2016 Spring VirtCon, including details on registration, online and in person events, and hosting local events, visit–2016.cfm. Use the hashtag #SpringVirtCon to follow along with this event on Twitter.

“Last year’s Spring VirtCon introduced me to a variety of new strategies I’ve since integrated into my classroom instruction that have increased student engagement and supported academic growth,” said Elizabeth Benno, Digital Literacy Coach, Lovejoy Independent School District, Texas. “I encourage all educators to attend this year’s event.  No matter what level you teach or where your school is located, the Spring VirtCon will provide new insights into the critical issues facing school systems today, as well as innovative ideas for supporting the success of all learners.”

“Following the success of our Powerful Practices events, Discovery Education is pleased to continue the dialogue on equity and excellence in the classroom at the Spring VirtCon,” said Lance Rougeux, Discovery Education Vice President of Learning Communities. “I look forward to exploring the topics of personalized learning, formative assessment, culturally responsive classrooms, and student engagement, as well as delving into the innovative strategies educators can implement today to overcome these challenges, at this no cost, day long event.”

To learn more about Discovery Education’s professional learning opportunities as well as other initiatives and services, visit

About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 3 million educators and over 30 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, over 40 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at