WASHINGTON – Discovery Education hopes to lift the dread surrounding the school fundraiser this fall by giving families the option of buying online homework support for their children, rather than selling wrapping paper, sweets or nuts to friends and relatives.
The Silver Spring-based company announced last week that when a family signs up for Cosmeo, Discovery Channel’s online homework help center, a fraction of subscription fees will go to the child’s school.
The program, called Learning Adds Up, allows schools to move “away from selling candy and wrapping paper” and offer educational enrichment, said Coni Rechner, vice president of Discovery Educator Network.
“It’s a fundraiser for the school, but it’s also a great way for students to use their computer other than IMing (Instant Messaging) or e-mailing,” said Liz Boone, a sixth-grade math teacher at Severna Park Middle School in Anne Arundel County.
Boone heard about the initiative on Discover Educator Network, an online meeting place for teachers, and decided to enlist her school.
The fundraiser is unlike others, she said, because “it’s a product for the kids.”
Cosmeo, which offers homework help in most subjects from math and science to English and health, consists of video clips, quizzes, educational games and links to external Web sites, such as the CIA World Factbook. Students can explore topics that are in line with the state curriculum and appropriate to their grade level.
Schools that use “unitedstreaming,” Discovery’s video clip library, find Cosmeo particularly helpful, Rechner said.
Boone likes that video streaming function, and with Cosmeo she hopes students will be able to watch similar videos at home.
Cosmeo also draws parents because they can control what their children see, and they can monitor progress on the site.
“It’s great for the parent because they feel they can participate,” said Shermaze Ingram, communications director at Discovery Education.
Cosmeo costs $9.95 a month or $99 a year. Subscribers receive five accounts: four for students and one for parents.
Commissions will be awarded on a sliding scale. A school can earn 15 percent per subscription per month if it sells 100 or fewer subscriptions, 20 percent if it sells between 101 and 200 subscriptions and 25 percent if it sells more than 200 subscriptions.
Other Maryland schools planning to participate include the Baltimore City Public School System and a number of private schools.
Boone said the fundraiser is still new at Severna Park and she isn’t sure how much money her school will raise. The money will be used to purchase new technology, she said.
“We’re just going to see how it goes.”