Rob Lippincott

Rob Lippincott

Senior Vice President of Education, PBS


Media engages learner interest.

Unless kids care, they aren’t really engaged. Unless they are engaged they don’t retain what they are learning. There are many ways to engage the attention, gain the allegiance and capture the focus of students, but nothing is as consistently effective as media, especially websites, videos and games. For educators, media is a powerful tool and provides a richer learning experience for students. As never before, it is time to unlock the power of digital media to accelerate and deepen learning.


Teachers matter.

Unless we make it a priority to recognize and reward teachers, and grow them as professionals, they will not sustain the energy and excitement at school every day which students so ardently crave. Teachers need to be given the time to reflect and grow—through professional development opportunities. And they need to be mentored by peers and guides—providing opportunities to see their own performance—in order to grow into excellent guides and coaches of learning.


Interactivity is key.

Learning is an essentially active pursuit. By participating, students construct and explore their own version of what they see and hear. Today, more teachers are embracing new technologies to foster learning in the classroom. When a game or activity demands learner input or response, it draws them in at a cognitively active and intellectually available state. Often, this type of learning environment is not achieved in a more traditional, less interactive and participatory classroom setting.


Failure is not an option—it’s a requirement.

Teachers understand and revere the value of risk and of failure, the need for practice, the reward for resilience and repeated effort resulting in overcoming obstacles. We simply don’t reward teachers, schools, curricula or reform movements this way. We do not track progress and improvement as carefully as we should. We don’t provide evaluative data as the feedback that can inspire, guide and drive greater performance. Instead, we look for “zero defects” as if we were manufacturing trucks. We reward high scores over iterative progress in the face of real feedback. We hold “a perfect score” in higher esteem than “demonstrated excellence”—one a phantom hope of giftedness, the other a natural result of sustained effort. Believe it or not, we need to embrace “Failure!”


School isn’t just PREPARATION for real life—it IS real life.

Kids become older and move from one classroom and school to another. At some point, it becomes clear that they need to move beyond “school” and engage in something everyone in their lives refers to as “real life.” It involves a concept known as a “job” and perhaps the prospect of a “family.” The role models, exemplars for all of this are principally their own “nuclear family” and the media. Too many kids believe that their own existence is lesser or somehow inferior to the world they perceive on TV and outside their homes. This means they are in a state of preparation-but-not-real existence. Nothing they do has any REAL meaning—it’s all “pre-season” or unreal. Whenever their lives actually brush with “reality”—someone is on TV or they meet a real celebrity or they experience the validation of accomplishing something that has a manifestation in their actual lives outside of school—they are exultant and transformed. They are FULLY engaged and there are REAL consequences to their own actions. THAT is the state they need to inhabit to fully mature and emerge.

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.


As Senior Vice President of Education at PBS, Rob Lippincott is responsible for the development and implementation of effective public media educational services for PBS, local public television stations, students, teachers, and parents. His tasks include strategic and operational planning, securing new financial resources and leveraging new technologies to expand PBS’ education services.

Before joining PBS, Mr. Lippincott served as Senior Vice President of Product Development for Discovery Education, the newest division of Discovery Communications, Inc., responsible for the digital video streaming, online and hard copy products developed for the home and school markets. Throughout his career, he has held a wide variety of leadership positions in schools and businesses, building and applying media and communications technology to education. He has been a classroom teacher, a member of the faculty of Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, and a pioneer in multimedia and internet design for K-12 audiences.

Mr. Lippincott holds a Bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in Literature and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology from Harvard University.