WKAR Partners with Michigan Public TV Stations and Educators to Create New Learning Service

Oct 21, 2020

Michigan Learning Channel to provide instructional content to support the work of teachers and parents through universally available platforms

EAST LANSING, MI; Wed. Oct. 21, 2020  – Michigan’s public television stations, in partnership with leading educators and community leaders, have announced the creation of the Michigan Learning Channel (MLC). The network will deliver instructional content programming to students, families and teachers, using a wide variety of media platforms, including a system of dedicated broadcast channels.

WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University will begin airing the station in early January 2021, providing curriculum-aligned instructional resources for students and teachers, beginning with Pre-K to 3rd grade content and quickly expanding to include grades 4 to 12. 

In WKAR's mid-Michigan viewing area, MLC will be available free on over-the-air broadcast channel 23.5. It will also be available as a digital livestream and posted for on demand viewing at MichiganLearning.org; as well as stored for on-demand viewing, ensuring accessibility to all students, educators and families in the state.

The instructional content will be aligned with Michigan’s educational standards and will follow widely accepted sequences for mastering skills throughout the school year, to make it as useful as possible for schools and students. Designed to support and enrich school learning, the lessons will be presented by a diverse group of educators, delivered as if the teacher was in a classroom setting.

When fully developed, the MLC will include a statewide network of new broadcast channels, dedicated to bringing this content into homes throughout Michigan, overcoming limitations in online access for rural and urban areas alike.

The concept has been endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) and the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA).

“As part of WKAR Family, we have worked with leaders in the field of education and with a diverse cross-section of parents and concerned citizens to develop a plan that meets the evolving needs of families and teachers,” said Susi Elkins, WKAR director of broadcasting and general manager. “Public television has a long history of developing age-appropriate educational content in partnership with those closest to the communities we serve.

“The Michigan Learning Channel takes this one step further. We will use our various platforms -- over the air, online and through social media – to increase access to educational programming and resources, at home, schools, daycare centers or wherever students may be. There is a crucial need for this service during the pandemic and into the future. Along with WKAR's leading role in developing NextGen TV, the new channel is another step toward developing new ways to use broadcast technology to further education in Michigan."

The broadcast channel will deliver lessons in scheduled 30- and 60-minute blocks for each grade level throughout the day, which will be repeated during the evenings and weekends. All content is offered at no cost to schools, families and caregivers. As new content is developed, it will be added to the Michigan Learning Channel platforms.

In addition to primary and secondary education, the Michigan Learning Channel plans to eventually add adult educational content, developed in collaboration with unions, community colleges and universities. These programs would support the completion of college and career certification programs to help fill high-need positions in the workforce.

The public television stations joining WKAR in this effort are Detroit Public Television, Delta College Public Media, WGVU Public Media from Grand Valley State University, WCMU Public Media from Central Michigan University and WNMU-TV from Northern Michigan University.

Initial funding for the Michigan Learning Channel is provided by awards totaling $3.5 million; 43 percent or $1,5 million of the budget is through a grant from the Michigan Department of Education supported by the Governors Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund Grant, part of the CARES Act. The remainder is through funding from the Michigan State Legislature. None of the financing is currently from non-governmental sources.

About WKAR Public Media
WKAR Public Media is Michigan's Capital Region source for award-winning original television and radio, and the best from PBS and NPR. WKAR is part of Michigan State University College of Communication Arts & Sciences and includes WKAR TV, WKAR Radio, wkar.org, WKAR Radio Reading Service, WKAR Family, and WKAR Ready to Learn.