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PBS to Provide Access to Ken Burns Films to Support Educators and Students with Distance Learning
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PBS LearningMedia to Include Full Films in “Ken Burns in the Classroom” Hub, to Supplement Educational Materials

Films will be Available Through June 30

April 20, 2020PBS LearningMedia, an online destination for educators and students that offers free access to thousands of resources from PBS stations and partners, will now include many of the award-winning films of Ken Burns and Florentine Films in their entirety, PBS announced today. Available on PBS LearningMedia’s “Ken Burns in the Classroom” hub beginning April 20 through June 30, the films will support teachers and students with distance learning for the remainder of this academic year.

The following films will be available in their entirety on Ken Burns in the Classroom, along with educational materials and guides to assist teachers:

April 20:
JAZZ (2001)
COLLEGE BEHIND BARS (executive produced by Burns, directed by Lynn Novick) (2019)

Throughout April:
THE WAR (2007)

A number of clips from other films by Burns are featured on PBS LearningMedia’s “Ken Burns in the Classroom” hub, including “Country Music,” “The Vietnam War,” “The Central Park Five,” “The West,” “Jackie Robinson,” “Lewis & Clark,” and “Prohibition.” The hub houses a full library of classroom-ready content – aligned to state and national standards – to help students further explore the complex historical events and issues illustrated in Ken Burns’s films. This includes hundreds of video clips, lesson plans, activity suggestions, discussion questions, handouts, and interactives to help educators integrate the films into their distance learning instruction. 

In addition to PBS LearningMedia materials, Ken Burns has launched UNUM, a site where students and others can explore the intersection of history and current events through various playlists of clips from Burns’s body of work.

“We have heard loud and clear that teachers are in need of full films to better engage students and to align with their teaching during this period of distance learning,” Ken Burns said. “We have worked closely with PBS to clear rights and package these films so they can be streamed and made accessible. We’ve also integrated them into the PBS LearningMedia ‘Ken Burns in the Classroom’ hub, which already has educational materials and guides in place to assist teachers.”

Additionally, local PBS stations across the country are working with school districts in their states to provide at-home learning broadcast schedules, which then align with resources from PBS LearningMedia, including “Ken Burns in the Classroom,” providing access to this content to families who may have limited or no access to broadband.

“We’re proud to work with Ken Burns to further support distance learning during this crucial time,” said Sara Schapiro, VP of Education, PBS. “We know how much teachers value these resources, more than 2.6 million of whom accessed PBS LearningMedia in March alone. They will be thrilled to have access to these outstanding documentaries in full, to continue supporting their students through the end of the school year.”

On April 29 at 7 p.m. ET, Burns will participate in a live discussion on PBS LearningMedia YouTube, where he’ll answer questions submitted by teachers.

Earlier in March, PBS announced that Burns’s 1994 film, BASEBALL, would stream for free on all PBS platforms. In addition, THE ROOSEVELTS is currently streaming and being broadcast on Thursday nights. AMERICAN HISTORY NIGHT WITH KEN BURNS will continue with THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA and THE WAR (they will also be available streaming and on PBS LearningMedia).

Additional resources to support distance learning are available on PBS LearningMedia, including “Tips for Distance Learning with PBS LearningMedia,” with a free training webinar, “PreK-12 Resources for Emergency Closings,” available in English and Spanish, and a series of webinars through which teachers from around the country are coming together to discuss how they’re using PBS American Portrait in their online classrooms.


About PBS
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV— including a 24/7 channel, online at, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

Joe Deplasco, DKC Public Relations,
Lubna Abuulbah, PBS,