Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project

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Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project demonstrated TV Guide 1961.jpg
Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project demonstrated
Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project demonstrated Closed-Circuit Education Television Project.jpg
Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project demonstrated

The Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project was the first closed-circuit television network in aiding elementary school teaching by the use of television programs. [1]



William M. Brish had an idea in 1956 to experiment with teaching the K-12 grades using instruction by live television and pre-recorded programs. [2] He was Superintendent of Schools for Washington County, Maryland, at the time. [2] The project was dubbed "Pioneering Experiment". [2] It was financed by the Electronic Industries Association and the Fund for the Advancement of Education of the Ford Foundation, (the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company was partly involved also in the financing). [3] It was a program costing two million dollars and was spread out over a five-year term (1956–1961). [4] The Ford Foundation Fund along with the Electronic Industries Association contributed some $200,000 a year to the project over the five-year period. [5] These two organizations gave almost $1,500,000 to the Project in the five years it was functional. [6]


The television related electronic equipment was provided free of charge by 75 manufacturers through the Electronic Industries Association. This equipment was valued at about $300,000. [7] Initially, in the summer of 1956 a coaxial cable system was set up and connected by Bell Telephone Company. [4] Eight schools in Washington County were the first elementary schools to use the closed-circuit television network in teaching students with instructional television. [1] [3] [8] The initial closed circuit system served about 6,000 pupils from eight elementary schools. All 45 public elementary schools in Washington County were connected to the closed circuit system by September 1963. [1] [8] Junior college students were selected to operate cameras and run the tutorial telecasts. [6] The project required over 125 miles of coaxial cable, which was strung by the Bell Telephone Company with the required associated equipment. [6]


The use of puppet shows on television proved to be popular with the elementary school students. The puppets showed health habits, story telling, and Christmas themes. [9]


The Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project received the 1958 award of the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation National Mass Media Award for experimenting with educational television in teaching elementary school students. [10]

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  1. 1 2 3 Kane, item 3069, p. 184 The first elementary schools to use closed circuit televisions in teaching were eight public schools in Washington County, MD, which began using a closed-circuit system in September 1956.
  2. 1 2 3 Keefer, Greg. "Dr. William M. Brish". Washington County school district. Webmaster Greg Keefer. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  3. 1 2 Keefer, Greg. "A Message From Superintendent Brish- 1963". Washington County school district. Webmaster Greg Keefer. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  4. 1 2 Keefer, Greg. "50 YEARS OF INSTRUCTIONAL TELEVISION IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, MARYLAND (A HISTORICAL TIMELINE – 1956 – 2006)". Washington County school district. Webmaster Greg Keefer. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  5. "Washington County Television Report" (PDF). ERIC Education Resources Information Center. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  6. 1 2 3 Brish, William M (1965). "Eight Years of Instructional Television in Washington County". Journal of the SMPTE. 74 (2): 161–6. doi:10.5594/J09278.
  7. Keefer, Greg. "WASHINGTON COUNTY CLOSED CIRCUIT TELEVISION REPORT - 1963". Washington County school district. Webmaster Greg Keefer. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  8. 1 2 Seattler 2004, p. 425.
  9. Board of Education 1959, p. 11.
  10. Board of Education 1959, p. 13.

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