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WKAR Launches Michigan Learning Channel

Teacher with sea otter lesson

Public television station learning service provides instructional content to support the work of teachers and parents through universally available platforms.

EAST LANSING, MI; Jan. 22, 2021 — WKAR Public Media has joined other Michigan public television stations in launching the Michigan Learning Channel (MLC), available statewide on a series of new dedicated broadcast channels. Developed in partnership with leading educators and community leaders, the network delivers instructional content and programming to students, parents and teachers.

In the WKAR television viewing area, the Michigan Learning Channel is broadcasting now over the air on channel 23.5. Antenna users may need to rescan to add the new channel. It is also available as a Live TV stream at MichiganLearning.org and select content is posted there for on-demand viewing. 

The Michigan Learning Channel seeks to ensure accessibility to all students, educators and families in the state.

“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’re using 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."

WKAR original content on the Michigan Learning Channel includes “Curious Crew,” airing multiple times each week; and the “WKAR Family” series of video shorts offering tips for parents, caregivers and educators. “WKAR Family” videos are produced by WKAR in collaboration with MSU College of Education and other MSU partners. Video shorts from MSU Extension Tollgate Farm and Education Center can also be seen on the channel.

The programming schedule is available to teachers and school administrators to explore possible integration with lesson plans at wkar.org/michiganlearning.  

The Michigan Learning Channel provides curriculum-aligned instructional resources for students and teachers, with Pre-K to Grade 12 programming Monday through Friday. Weekends feature a variety of programming in social studies and science, as well as documentaries with educational resources.

Much of this programming is produced specifically for the MLC, with the guidance of Michigan education experts and delivered by Michigan educators, and some programming comes from nationally respected producers of instructional content.

Future plans for the Michigan Learning Channel include adding more Michigan teachers providing content for primary and secondary education and eventually adding 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 Michigan Learning Channel concept has been endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA), the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA), the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA) and the Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM).

The MLC’s instructional content is aligned with Michigan’s educational standards and follows 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 are presented by a diverse group of educators, generally delivered as if the teacher is in a classroom setting.

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.

The Michigan Learning Channel does not seek to replace teachers. The service will work best for students and families if they are working with their teachers about the best way to use its content. In this way, the MLC can help engage parents more deeply in their children’s learning and encourage them to form strong partnerships with teachers and their local schools.

A report by The Education Trust – Midwest on the digital divide revealed that 35% of Michigan public school students have limited or no access to the internet from home. In some districts, the lack of internet access rises to as high as 55%, disproportionately borne by children of color and children in rural areas. In contrast, broadcast television reaches nearly every home in Michigan.

Even homes with good internet access may lack sufficient devices and/or bandwidth to accommodate parents working from home and multiple children seeking online instruction.  Such instruction delivered via television provides a nearly universal alternative.

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% 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.

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.

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